The Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) is an international professional organization of scholars interested in the study of a wide range of social issues with an emphasis on identity, everyday practice, and language. Symbolic interactionism, the society’s theoretical foundation, is derived from American pragmatism and particularly from the work of George Herbert Mead, who argued that people’s selves are social products, but that these selves are also purposive and creative. Herbert Blumer, a former student and interpreter of Mead, coined the term ‘symbolic interactionism’ and put forward an influential summary of the perspective stating that:
- people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them, and
- these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified through interpretation.
Many sub-disciplines within the social sciences have been influenced by symbolic interactionism, including the sociology of emotions, deviance/criminology, collective behavior/social movements, feminist studies, sociological versions of social psychology, communications theory, semiotics, education, nursing, mass media, organizations, and the study of social problems. Similarly, numerous interactionist concepts have gained widespread usage, including the definition of the situation, emotion work, identity work, impression management, looking glass self, and total institution.