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Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.

Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.


Symbolic interaction theory views society as the conglomeration of all of the different ways that individual people interact with one another. The pioneers of this theory were Max Weber and George Herbert Mead, but the person to give this theory its name was Herbert Blumer, who summarized it like this: people tend to treat things according to the significance that those things have from their perspective. This significance comes through social interaction and can change over time as the interpretation of those things varies over time (Nelson). Blumer outlined three tenets of this theory:Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.


People assign significance based on interaction with others.

Interaction with others shapes the interpretation we give to the significance of these entities. (Blumer)

This contrasts with a behaviorist view of human interaction, because behaviorists only allow for one response for each stimulus, instead of allowing for some freedom of interpretation.

The area in which symbolism comes into the discussion has to do with the different roles that people play. There is an old Looney Tunes cartoon entitled “Bugs’ Bonnets,” in which Elmer Fudd is once again chasing Bugs Bunny through a forest. Above them, a van is crossing a bridge, and this van is carrying a load of hats. While going over the bridge, the van has its doors break open, spilling the contents down below. The hats briefly fall onto the two enemies’ heads, and as each hat changes, they quickly switch roles (police officer, General MacArthur, and so on, ultimately ending up as a bride and groom). Each of the hats in the cartoon has powerful associations, ranging from law and order to sports to relationships, and those associations have been built by symbolic repetition throughout the culture. The power of this cartoon comes from our symbolic interaction.Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.

When it comes to symbolic interaction and aging, a caregiver and the elderly person for whom he is caring can end up approaching their association in significantly different ways, particularly if senility or dementia has begun to set in. While in a healthy situation, the patient would realize that one of his most constant companions is a caregiver, with all of the emotional boundaries that exist in that relationship. However, once those boundaries start to blur, as mental faculties dwindle, the doctor or most constant caregiver takes on some of the functions of a spouse, or significant other (Beisecker). The doctor becomes the most consistent source of feedback, or interaction, that the patient receives; as a result, the patient develops emotional attachments toward the doctor that the doctor most likely does not reciprocate; while the doctor is the patient’s lifeline to the world, the patient does not represent anything nearly as significant to the doctor. In the setting of caregiving, this can lead to hurt feelings on the patient end, as the patient may not feel like the doctor is giving him or his condition enough attention. On the other end, the doctor may feel stress, as the patient may be placing heavier expectations than the doctor feels are appropriate for the situation. As dementia worsens, this can cause more and more stress for the patient.Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.

In Vespieri’s The City of Green Benches, Mr. Dawson experiences stress much like this. His intake form for adult day care showed that he was eighty-two years old, and had survived his wife. He also had no children or grandchildren; instead, he only had a niece as a relative. His conversation with the intake worker shows the disconnect between the expectations that he had for the situation and the expectations that the worker had.

For example, Mr. Dawson initially shows some discomfort with the idea of spending all of his time around what he considers “old” people. People his own age just “pale” on him (52). The outreach worker initially tries to engage Mr. Dawson on the subject, asking him what sort of people he considers “young.” In response, Mr. Dawson indicates that he would gladly hang out with people who were “up around fifty.” He goes into some detail about the reasons he likes to hang out with younger people, including the fact that his deceased wife was much younger, and apparently the outreach worker is running out of time to spend on his case, because he interrupts with a “technical question about his Medicaid coverage.” This knocks Mr. Dawson out of his reverie, but Mr. Dawson only lurches into a monologue about his eating habits. When this happens, the outreach worker answers him “wearily,” obviously just waiting for this elderly man to stop rambling and go away. The implication, of course, is that Mr. Dawson is an inconvenience for him, because he is an obstacle between the case worker and the completion of that case worker’s case load. To Mr. Dawson, the conversation is important, because it is about how he will be spending his days; to the outreach worker, Mr. Dawson is just one file in a box bristling with manila folders.Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.

Question 2

In many government entities in North America and the European Union, there is currently a major debate going on regarding the use of public funds. On one side of the argument are fiscal conservatives, who insist that national budget writers do more with less, because tax revenues are down, and instead of raising taxes or going into savings, or taking on further debt, they have urged major “austerity measures” to bring expenses in line with revenues. As one can imagine, this has caused discontent around the globe, whether it is the annoyed Greek populace, facing slashed government revenues in most areas of life, or the Occupy Wall Street movement and its other offshoots in America, which are targeting the gaps between rich and poor. One of the easiest places to cut spending is in social services for the elderly. They make a strikingly easy target for budget cuts – they don’t look as pitiful on camera as children do, for example. People become outraged when they hear about children going without health insurance or without food. If it happens to the elderly, though, there seems to be a different response. After all, shouldn’t the elderly have saved enough money to take care of themselves in retirement, even if they start suffering from dementia or other debilitating conditions? If they didn’t save enough, why should the government step in and take care of them?Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.

On the other side of the argument are advocates who speak out against abuses of the elderly. Many of these people have relatives who have taken over power of attorney, so that they can help their parents or uncles or aunts manage their money; however, many of these “helpful” relatives are really just helping themselves to the savings that their relatives socked away over time. As a result, the savings can end up being depleted dishonestly, before the elderly relative has stopped needing the money that he or she has saved. These younger family members can also consign their loved ones to low-cost nursing homes, where care is negligible, to keep the nest egg larger for the time when their relative passes away. They can even keep their elderly relatives at home with them, which is where some of the worst abuses take place.

This is a situation where two different groups of people look at the same situation from two different points of view, with two different agendas. On the one side are the fiscal conservatives, who tend to look at government as having a smaller role. Instead of it being the government’s job to take care of and provide for the elderly when they can no longer do so for themselves, it is each person’s job to save up enough money to take care of them. On the other side is the view that the government should serve as a safety net for society’s vulnerable members. Each side’s agenda colors its interpretation of events.

And so it is with researchers. If you are going to research anything, it is likely that your previous life experiences will shape your predicted outcomes and may even color the research methods you use, which will naturally drive you toward those outcomes in the first place. The essay “Theorists’ Lives” has a lot to say about this phenomenon, beginning with a discussion of the theories of Sigmund Freud. While many of Freud’s theories about psychoanalysis, including his ideas about the interpretation of dreams, were popular at their inception and remain popular today, his ideas were by no means the only ones out there when it came to consideration of the personality. However, he view of humanity as “conflicted, torn between yearnings for love and death, and besieged by unconscious impulses barely held in check by civilization” (Theorists’ Lives) matched – and still matches – the view that many people hold about humanity today. Because “his conceptions were consistent with the ways that many others saw themselvesthe theory survives” (Theorists’ Lives).

Freud’s theories were also consistent with his own upbringing. One of Freud’s most controversial and enduring theories was his notion of the Oedipal complex – namely, that a boy has an ambivalent relationship with his mother, that begins filially but then can move toward an unconscious form of desire. Freud’s own relationship with his mother fit the bill: he had a younger brother, Julius, who was born 11 months after Freud. This meant that young Sigmund went from having his mother’s full, undivided attention to having to share her very body with his new brother, as she went from nursing Sigmund to nursing Julius. When Julius died at eight months, Sigmund blamed himself, in part because of his jealousy about the attention Julius was receiving from their mother. Sigmund only felt love for his mother, and was never able to consciously acknowledge any anger or other negative feeling toward her, even though his brother had died in her care. Because Sigmund also felt ambivalent toward his father, who often expressed disappointment in his son, while his mother went along with his every whim, even getting rid of the family piano because his sister’s lessons on it created noise that disturbed him (“Theorists’ Lives”). As one might imagine, the family dynamic that grew out of situations like these was one that made the Oedipal complex a likely outcome – rather than dragging Greek tragedy into it, it might have been even better to call it the “Freud complex.” The fact remains that we tend to get the outcomes we want from the research that we do, because we go in with assumptions and desires for the results.Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.

Question 3

One of the unique features of the American education system is the notion that anyone can go to university and succeed. The community college system in that country is designed as a bridge between high school (or those who don’t quite finish in the traditional way and get a GED instead). Because their schooling system tries to bring everyone through high school graduation, and because not everyone is cut out to complete high school in the traditional way, the graduation rate in the United States trails that of other countries. In most of those other countries, though, not everyone even gets the chance to go on and study at university. Beginning in the middle school years, or even earlier, students in other countries undergo a series of tests designed to measure their aptitude. If they do well enough, then they are admitted into an academic track and allowed to pursue the dream of university. If they don’t, though, then they are shoved onto a vocational track, and end up going to a trade school beginning when they are 14 or 15 years old. They are ready to join the work force sooner, but a test that they take before they can shave determines their outcomes.Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.

Stage-based theories are similar in the restrictions that they place on researchers at just about every point in the human psychosocial development continuum. In some areas of study, they are helpful: in Erikson’s theory of development, for example, it is possible to track the emotional and psychological development of children as they move into adolescence and then full adulthood. The benefits of stage theory in this instance include the ability to identify the particular stage at which a young person is currently functioning and, based on that information, decide the best way to help that person to move on to the next stage. Tracking a student’s progress toward maturity can be instrumental in helping that student advance toward full adulthood and maturity.

However, when one is considering development after the student has become an adult, things change a little bit. Consider Levinson’s theories about mid-life transition for men. Basing his assessment of his patients’ lives on their “life structure” – particularly of the way in which his patients have (or have not) decided to engage with the problems of the world. Levinson’s notion of “life structure” includes the “socio-cultural world and its impact in the individual, the self, and the self’s decision to engage in participation in the world.” (Coleman & O’Hanlon).

When one enters adulthood, though, one should have reached the fulfillment, or at least gotten close to the fulfillment, of the developmental theories out there. While turning 18, or 25, or 30, should be a major milestone, it also means that you are getting closer and closer to the person who you were meant to be. The next set of stages that you go through will likely have precious little to do with your biological or emotional development. Instead, the next set of stages that you endure will have to with the experiences that happen to you, and the response you choose to those experiences. Also, for those patients who begin to experience dementia, confusion, or other psychotic diseases that are part of the slow loss of memory and knowledge that accompanies old age, identifying a specific stage becomes more problematic – and more subjective. If we think about Mr. Dawson, back in Question 1, how difficult would it be to assign a particular developmental stage to him? Of what use would that assignment be? Given the mercurial nature of his mental state, he might jump from one developmental stage to the next, even in the same conversation. A developmental psychologist might well be just as confused as Mr. Dawson’s intake worker was, because it would be just about impossible to assign him to a particular stage. At times he appears lucid, telling the worker about things he has done recently and about his own age. At times he appears even better than lucid, as he poignantly describes the way he and his wife lived such a long life together. At other times, though, he appears just as petulant and strong-willed as a child, breaking down into tears and abandoning the maturity that had sustained him just minutes before.Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.

When considering aging, thinking about developmental stages represents an unhelpful use of time, ultimately. Instead of assigning patients to a cookie-cutter stage-based therapy, practitioners need to take the time to get to know each patient, so that they can build an optimal treatment plan. That treatment plan is the one that will help students get better emotionally and physically – and psychologically as well. Patients who feel like their doctors have taken the time to know them generally do much better than those who feel like their practitioners don’t care about them (as we discussed in Question 1 as well). Considering patients case by case may take more time and resources, but also could result in greatly enhanced services provided.Objects Based On The Significance That Those Entities Hold Essay.

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