The Interventionist Perspective
The interaction perspective suggests no grand theories of society, since "Society "the state," and "social institutions" are conceptual abstractions, while only people and their interaction can be studied directly. Symbolic interventionists such as G. H. Mead (1863-1931) and C. H. Cooley (1846-1929) connect sale upon this interaction between individuals and groups. They note that people interminably through symbols which webdesigns, gestures, and most importantly, through written and spoken words. A word has no inherent meaning. It is simply a noise but it becomes a word when people reach agreement that this noise 'carries a special meaning. Thus "yes," "no," "go," "come," and thousands of other sounds became symbols as a meaning is attached to each. Although some meanings can be exchanged without words, as all lovers know, most meanings arc exchanged through spoken or written words. People do not respond to the world directly; they respond to meanings they impute to the things' and happenings around them: a traffic light, a lineup at a ticket window, a police officer's whistle and hand signal. An early sociologist, W. I. Thomas (1863--1947), coined the phrase, definition of the situation, noting that we can act sensibly only after we decide what kind of situation it is [Thomas, 1937, p. 9J. If a man approaches with right hand extended, we define this as a friendly greeting; if he approaches with clenched fists, we. define the situation differently. The person who miss defines situations and tries to run when he should make love, or vice verso, is a stock comic figure. But in real life, failure to define behavior situations correctly and make appropriate responses can have unhappy consequences.
As Berger and Luck man state in their Social Construction of Reality , society is an objective reality, in that people, groups, and institutions are real, regardless of our perceptions of them. But society is also a subjective reality, in that for each person, the other persons, groups, and institutions are whatever that person perceives them as owing, Whether most people are pretty nice or pretty nasty, whether the police are protectors or oppressors, whether corporations serve common interests or selfish interests-these are perceptions which persons for from their own experiences, and these perceptions become "the way it is" for persons holding them.