Symbolic Interactionism

V. J. Del Casino, D. Thien

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Symbolic interactionism as a social theoretical framework starts from the presupposition that our social world is constructed through the mundane acts of everyday social interaction. Through the repetitive act of interaction, individuals as actors in relation to social groups constitute symbolic and shared meanings. Importantly, symbolic interactionism does not deny the unique; it is directly concerned with how distinctive meanings are adapted and interpreted through social practice. Methodologically, symbolic interactions are generally investigated through various qualitative approaches, such as ethnography or participant observation. Geographers' interest in symbolic interactions developed in parallel to their growing interest in humanistic philosophies, as well as cultural and social theory. Post-positivist geographies, in particular, have been influenced by social interactionist approaches, which continue to investigate the complex relationships between individuals and societies, peoples and places. More generally, geography's interest in symbolic interactions stems from the larger concern with symbolic social practices, particularly as the 'symbolic' informs understandings of and meanings found in various social spaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780080449104
ISBN (Print)9780080449111
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Ethnomethodology/ethnomethodological geographies
  • Feminist geography
  • Humanistic geography
  • Interpretative geographies
  • Participant observation
  • Post-positivism
  • Post-structuralist geography
  • Qualitative research
  • Social and cultural geography
  • Structuralism
  • Symbolic landscape
  • Symbolic space
  • Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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