Herbert Blumer on the Interactional Order of the Democratic Society
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University of Warsaw
Publication date: 2012-03-30
Polish Sociological Review 2012;177(1):3–18
The article draws attention to the potential significance of Herbert Blumer’s heritage in the sociological analysis of the issues with which modern democracy has to deal. It aims to strengthen that current of interpretation pertaining to symbolic interactionism which opposes the widespread tendency to consider it as amicrosociological orientation. The article emphasizesmedium-range phenomena—in other words, mesosociological problems of organizations, interest groups and social movements. Blumer helped George H. Mead’s ideas, including the basic concept of the self, find a fuller application in sociology. To properly evaluate Blumer’s achievements, one should consider him as a researcher of the changes occurring in modern societies in general. He emphasized the existence of a constant process of defining and redefining social institutions, and thus, the role of civic agency—in other words, ultimately, of the reflexive self. In Blumer’s conceptions of symbolic interaction, joint action and negotiated order one may see an elaboration of the interactional order of the democratic society.