By Sheldon Stryker
This book, originally published in 1980 and reprinted here with a new foreword from the author. The work succinctly and clearly developed a well-argued case for symbolic interaction as a perspective or theoretical framework to be judged by its capacity to lead to testable theories of human social behavior. It does so by linking long-standing sociological emphases on social structures as constraining the formation of and dissolution of networks of social interactions and the social selves that guide interactional behavior. It treats historical as well as contemporary figures and presents the authorís original and stimulating assessment of the merits, shortcomings and future of symbolic interactionism.
"Sheldon Stryker's Symbolic Interactionism not only reviews the key figures who founded this tradition, but more fundamentally, it also presents a formal theory. This theory still represents one of the most important statements within the symbolic interactionist tradition. In this theory, Stryker attempts to explain the dynamics of identity formation, particularly the salience of an identity, the consequences of identity for role performances, and the shifting commitments to a particular identity. Like all important theories, this one is timeless and continues to inform theory and research in the social sciences." Jonathan H. Turner, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of California, Riverside.
"This is the book that brought structural symbolic interaction theory to the attention of sociologists and social psychologists around the country and the world. While recognizing the key importance of meanings and definitions of the situation, Strykerís discussion of his eight postulates forms the basis for understanding how and why the self is always embedded in society. This book is a remarkable achievement." Peter J. Burke, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, Riverside, California.
"Stryker's classic monograph has never been surpassed as a clear, focused
exposition of his identity theory and of the agenda for structural symbolic
interactionists more generally as they aim for a general theory of self,
meaning and action. He brings interactionism to bear on central sociological
questions about how social positions become incorporated into the self and
shape our social interactions. This is a core statement of the historic
roots of symbolic interaction, from one of its major figures. Stryker
evaluates the field as it stood in 1980, and clearly states the structure of
his own version of interactionism. He shows how symbolic interactionist
thought can be used to develop a productive, empirical scientific study of
social behavior. As a powerful, forward-looking critique, appreciation and
theoretical agenda, this monograph is as useful today as it was when it was
originally published." Lynn Smith-Lovin, Duke University
Dr. Sheldon Stryker is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Indiana University, semi-retired in 2002 after 51 years on the faculty there. A career-long student of social psychology in general and symbolic interactionism in particular, he has received the Cooley-Mead Award for Lifetime Contributions to Social Psychology from the American Sociological Association Section on Social Psychology and the George Herbert Mead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. He remains an active contributor to the theoretical and research literature in social psychology.
He has been editor of the ASA's American Sociological Review, Sociometry (now Social Psychology Quarterly) and the Arnold and Carolyn Rose Monograph Series; and he has been a Social Science Research Council Fellow, a Fulbright Research Scholar, and a Fellow, Center for Advances Studies in the Behavioral Sciences.