Interactionist Theory

Associated with Mead, Dewey, Blumer, and other sociology theorists, symbolic interactionism or labeling theory "emphasizes that humans invest the world with meaning, meanings that evolve through interaction and are continuously interpreted and reinterpreted" (Coleman 2003, 181). In other words, the world of meaning and society is created by us through our interactions with others. For example, in societies where cars exist, people understand the meaning of a red light or that it is risky to cross the street when the light is green, while those from societies without cars would not understand their meaning. Collectively, society is a product of our capacity to think and express our thoughts through symbols. Our culture, our society, and our "self" is a product of our own mind. Cultures develop through shared sets of symbols or labels that provide meaning for their inhabitants. Without such a shared sense of meaning, it would be difficult and virtually impossible to interact with others.

Within the interactionist perspective, those who interact do so by adopting roles that equate to labels a



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