Essay on Symbolic interactionism concept



Essay on Symbolic interactionism concept boldly explains my experience in India as a young person especially when it comes to greetings and body language.

When I was 16, I got a chance to visit my Aunt who lived in India at the time. I was excited and more than willing to visit her in a foreign country, she worked with a community based organization, and I was happy I was going to see new places and experience a new culture. I packed my bags bade my family goodbye and on alighting at Cochin international airport my Aunt was there to pick me and my first impression of India was color. Everything seemed to be bright colored from the clothing to decorations to temples. It was impressive and I kept looking out of the window on the ride to where my aunt lived with her husband. We soon left the city behind and soon we we’re in rural territory.

My aunt and uncle must be good people because they were able to leave their luxury home back at home to live in a rural place like this to help the suffering community. This place sure had friendly   but was far from urbanization and westernization. In the few weeks I was there, I had to learn fast the basics in human interaction like greeting. I learnt that the standard greeting was to put my hands together, bow slightly and say ‘Namaste’. I learnt that I could not shake hands with anyone. I learnt that men could not touch women even in greeting but men could shake hands when they met or were leaving. On one occasion while touring the market and held shopping bags with my right hand l attempted to pay for my items with my free hand but I couldn’t understand why my retailer could not accept my money. I went home and told my aunt the story to which she responded that passing anything to anyone in India required to use the right hand, the left one was considered unclean. Following this incident, she gave me a few rules to live by. I was supposed to maintain an arm’s length space when I met someone, I was not supposed to touch anyone’s head for any reason and not point people with my foot. To point people I was supposed to use my thumb or my whole arm.Essay on Symbolic interactionism concept

Symbolic interactionism concept was largely developed from Max Weber’s statement that individuals act according to their interpretation to the meaning of their world. Symbolic interactionism looks at the subjective meaning that people attach to objects, behavior, or events.  It is a micro perspective meaning that people gain from social interactions and how people interpret an action. My experience in India taught me that it’s easy to adopt social order especially when people learn to read symbols or actions, there meaning and how to apply them. Through the concept I was able to integrate with the community better by learning that they valued personal space thus the reason I could not stand too close, I learnt that they considered the left hand unclean and learnt to be conscious to always use my right hand. I learnt that simple Western gestures like waving goodbye to them was an insult that meant go away. A shake of the head ‘no’ for them was ‘yes’. Almost everything I learnt there was different from what was considered okay back home. The people of India had attached special meaning to gestures of the hand and body language and that is what ruled their daily life and outsiders have to learn that in order to co-exist peacefully.Essay on Symbolic interactionism concept

My main argument that one needs to learn their environment and attach importance to what they consider important and sacred to what they consider sacred to avoid complications or insult to your host community. Symbolic interactionism emphasizes on social meaning plus the understanding that individuals derive from their social interactions. I would have been a total failure at socializing and would not have made any friends in India had I ignored what they held dear. Understanding roles and fitting into them is essential especially when visiting new areas and because humans are social beings, it will always important to respect others and fit in. My experience fits perfectly the saying that ‘when you go to Rome, behave like the Romans do.’