Symbolic Interaction Essay Research Paper Symbolic InteractionSociety

Symbolic Interaction Essay, Research Paper

Symbolic Interaction

Society is made up of interrelated parts, each of which are made up through the eyes of society as a whole. The everyday interactions of people are symbolic communication with one another. Symbolic interaction is shared with more than one person, meaning a group of people interacting with one another, using words, gestures or sounds.

Symbolic interactionists start with the assumption that culture, organizations, and social structures are created through your daily communication. As people grow and interact more with each other, patterns of interaction emerge, and indeed become the social lives we lead.

There can be no society without a group of individuals who routinely interact with one another to generate symbols that are shared, meaning as a group. Understanding human interaction we now know is the interpretation for the meaning of what goes on around you, symbolic communication. We learn the meanings that have been assigned to particular symbols. If a specific harmful behavior or belief has been learned, it can then be the same unlearned, because other behaviors and beliefs can be taught into its place, and work better when in smaller group settings. If you split the theory up into groups, start with the basic elements culture, values, and ideals this is what humans do to create and reinforce their social reality. Cultures are defined as traits like language that that are found in cultures. Values are taught and instilled and Ideals are generated through our thoughts that travel like light. Some of us use our religions, meaning as a way to define the events that occur in our lives, the supernatural is translated to be our religious beliefs to explain different events that occur. This is a united set of beliefs, nevertheless this perspective is now criticized and overlooked in today s world. One s religious beliefs are a historical and social structural context in their lives. To define symbolic interactionism as a whole it cannot be combined into one voice of explanation, but is made up as a combination of many categories of explanations of behaviors and is to be defined as a suggested that is shared.


Date: Friday, November 17, 2000

Time: 5:45 P.M.

Lovely Lady Nails

+ 19 people including owner Anne and 7 staff members who are all Vietnamese.

+ 5 ladies and 2 males

+ Customers: 4 Hispanic young ladies, 1 Hispanic lady with 2 children is waiting her turn. There are also 3 black ladies having their nails done with school age children and a friend waiting with them. 2 of the black ladies are sitting in pedicure chairs for feel good, look good feet!

While waiting for feet to soak, prospective White middle- aged female customer comes in but doesn t stay for long states that she will return at this time tomorrow. Very few people are interacting. One Hispanic female converses with her son who appears to be about 10 years old and has a little brother who looks to be 6 years old. One black lady who is almost finished has two middle school-aged kids and an adult friend waiting on her. The lady walks on a cane, is very sociable and talkative. She states that she has a bad back. Another customer (black female) arrives requesting for her feet and nails to be done. She is told that it will be a long wait, she then states that she will return later. In the meantime the black lady that was almost finished returns from washing her hands to have her nails polished. Notice that the 7-year-old boy has his hair frosted in the front. His mother who is having her nails done appears to work in the medical profession, her hair is pinned up and she is wearing a medical smock. The young lady getting a pedicure who appears to be in her middle twenties has her niece with her. The niece is the daughter of the black sister who has her nails and feet done here regularly with their mother. The young lady receiving a pedicure is having her birthday today states that she hasn t had her nails and feet done since her marriage in June because she just had a baby. Female customer (black) returning from earlier is now waiting to have her feet and nails done. Other black female walking with the cane and accompanied by 3 others has now finished drying her nails and bids everyone in the shop a safe weekend and says goodbye. There are a lot of passersby s, lot s of looking but they don t come in. Young Hispanic boys appear to be familiar with the shop and the area because they keep leaving and returning with food in their mouths and bags in their hands.

One of the staff members (female) goes to waiting customer but the customer has a preference, the Owner Anne, who is doing my pedicure and has another lady soaking nails waiting on her. So she was told that whoever else wanted Anne to do their nails had to wait. First Hispanic young lady finishes, surprisingly those 3 young ladies are acquainted but the whole time that they were sitting there they did not speak to each other at all! Now that two of them are done they start talking while the third is quietly looking at her nails as a male staff member is doing them. Every now and then the Hispanic young ladies engage in a conversation.

Another customer of Asian decent approximately 25-28 years old comes in stating that she needs a nail color change and that she is on her way out of town. Judging from conversation she is holding, she apparently is a regular. A female staff member (the same on who tried to assist the other customer) sits her down in a chair in front of her and begins to take care of her nails while starting up a conversation.

Most of the customers rarely converse with the staff servicing them. They either are closely watching their hands or feet, making requests, speaking to other customers, or talking on their cell phones. The staff doesn t seem to mind, they speak amongst each other in their own language. No customer appears to know their language nor do they seem to care!

Another customer arrives, he is a black nice looking petite man casually dressed. He doesn t say anything nor do any of the staff members who are quick to say, How may I help you? so I tell Anne (Owner) to ask the man, How may I help you? He states that he wants a pedicure and asks how much it will cost. But he says it jokingly and says that he is waiting on the black female who is waiting on Anne, while Anne is coloring my feet. Last Hispanic lady is finished but doesn t want to sit under the machine to dry nails. Her two girlfriends are waiting, so male staff person sprays her nails and says goodbye with an attitude. I can only assume that he wasn t tipped! I laughingly brought to Anne s attention. At the same time another customer comes in seemingly in a hurry, stating that she has broken a nail and doesn t care which staff member fixes it! The male staff member walks her over to his chair and begins. No conversation there! It s about 7:50 P.M. and my feet are fan drying. Stephanie (birthday girl) is now getting her nails done she is requesting decorations on both her feet and nails. Stephanie has watched me writing from the time I sat in the pedicure chair. She never really asked me what or whom I was writing about, but I could tell that she was a talker besides the earlier information she offered about herself. She used to work at Little Caesar s in K- Mart, she now works for Providian Credit Card Services as a customer representative. It is apparent that she is proud of herself. She is going out clubbing tonight with some of her co-workers who have birthdays in November. Her work team is called Divas! Stephanie did try to call her husband towards the end of the two hours that I was there but the phone battery was low, so she said, Oh well, he ll see me when he sees me. I politely asked her niece to come get my phone and allowed her to call her husband and new baby. She was grateful and said, Thank you!

Lovely Lady Nails averages at least one customer every five minutes requesting to have their nails, feet or eyebrows done. There appears to be a lot vanity as it should be, by the time a customer walks out of the shop he or she has been improved upon. Most customers are female, especially in the winter. In the summer men come in a lot for pedicures, now they come in every now and then for manicures. Women are definitely the dominant gender in the nail shop. I ve never seen nor experienced conflict, there is always symbolic interaction as well as structural functionalism. I would add feminist sociology.

Ages, races, cultures, economics, values, etc. of the customers vary, but the ends to the means are common, outward self- improvement.


Analysis & Generalizations

My analysis of Lovely Lady Nails is that it is a nail shop where mostly women go to improve and feel better about themselves (such as they do when they go to a salon). Lovely lady nails can also be a catch place . It appears by the way men walk outside always looking through the all glass front of the building that they are checking out the women being serviced inside. Some of the ladies actions and or reactions prove this to be true.

Although the majority of the persons being serviced appear to be between the ages of seventeen and forty-five, they are all of various cultures, ethnicities, sizes, shapes, as well as social economic status. There is no conflict in the shop rather there is a calm aura of functionalism. This makes attending the shop a pleasant experience.

One generalization that I formed while in the shop was that many of the customers being serviced didn t really have the extra income to have this service done and maintained. But they do it anyway and most likely sacrifice something else in their life to pay for these services. This is true for myself as well as most others I know and have talked to. Most of us are from the same culture and ethnicity and are employed but attending the nail shop is a want not a need. We do respect and recognize ourselves as attractive women who were brought up to believe in having a nice appearance inward and outward.

There are of course other persons being serviced that are truly on fixed incomes such as Cal Works or SSI. Appearance is a factor for them also, although non-affordable they too apparently sacrifice.

Another thing I notice is that there are a lot of nail shops in middle to poor class neighborhoods, and they stay in business!



Before actually beginning this project I was set on attending the courthouse and doing my observation there. Then difficulties came up making that choice less possible. So I decided to attend the Social Services office. Down there it was very slow, so I started talking to this employee who informed me that it was the middle of the month and most people have already received their benefits. Its busy time is between the first and the tenth. Then what I chose to be around became a factor. The factor is that I didn t want to be in a negative environment. So I chose the nail shop, somewhere I know and am familiar with and that the owner knows that I am a student.

For me any further observation I would definitely make my choices of places to go to, go along with my frame of mind.


Personal Feelings

I am proud of my work on this project. I believe any choice of observation was good for this project.

I often go places and observe people and their actions and behavior. For me this is natural. Yet as far as putting it on paper in a structured way has been an experience filled with anxiety. Being without the appropriate tools (such as a computer), was a part of y anxiety. I am blessed to have others in my life who are willing to assist me and for that I am grateful.

As far as this course goes it has been another great experience that I can add to the pages of my life.


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