The Symbolic-Interaction Approach to sociology might be flawed.
Despite the fact that the Symbolic-Interaction Approach to sociology seems to be flawed in its approach because it does not take into account enough macro-level forces; the approach still holds a great deal of merit and is used to study different aspects of sociology (Macionis, 2011). In a large Chinese study of suicides among women, this approach was used to model the research and provided intriguing results.
The Symbolic-Interaction theory views society “as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals” (Macionis, 2011). In this way, ones experiences with other people form the basis of what people perceive to be true and how they should behave in accordance with their perceptions of reality. Using this perspective, researchers studied suicide rates among Chinese women seeking to if Chinese religion, superstition, and perceived gender inequality impacted the degree to which suicide was attempted (Zhang & Xu, 2007).
The research was designed using a four page interview which was administered to individuals who attempted suicide. The research used a multiple variable regression model in order to determine the levels of individual superstition, religiosity, and gender inequality beliefs against the severity of the suicide attempts (Zhang & Xu, 2007). In line with the symbolic-interaction perspective, women who attempted suicide had positive correlations with gender inequality beliefs. The more severe the suicide attempt the greater the degree of belief in gender inequality (Zhang & Xu, 2007). Researchers also found that women who were religious and superstitious had positive correlations with gender inequality. The more devout in these beliefs the more like it was that a woman would experience thinking that reflected gender inequality; thus increasing suicide rates. The researchers believe that these women had formed thoughts of inequality and low self-esteem based on their cultural interactions and the values and norms they had been taught (Zhang & Xu, 2007).
While the Symbolic-Interaction Approach to sociology might be flawed, it does have merit in that research shows that the way that individuals learn and perceive their world directly impacts their behavior. This research also shows that the theory might be incomplete. More study of the perspective is needed to fully develop the theory.
Macionis, J. J. (2011). Society: The basics (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Zhang, J., & Xu, H. (2007). The effects of religion, superstition, and perceived gender inequality on the degree of suicide intent: a study of serious attempters in China. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 55(3), 185–197.
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