Term Paper: Theoretical Treatments of Symbolic Interactionism

Pages: 4 (1405 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication - Journalism  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] nbclosangeles.com/on-air/as-seen-on/181950281.html

This story featured investigative reporter Ana Garcia, a young Latina women who is known from the NBC affiliate's expose series "Get Garcia," reviewing the trade in illegally trafficked animals which continues to plague the city. An attractive White women, Jill Bandemer, is presented with the subheading "Fashion District Shopper," and she goes on to describe her experience shopping on Maple Street and encountering vendors selling illegal rabbits. Hidden camera footage shows anonymous Latino men, holding cages rabbits and counting handfuls of cash, as they peddle their contraband to passersby on the street. An official from the Fashion District, a middle-aged White man named Kent Smith, is also presented as an authority figure on the issue. Finally, a young Latino man named Juan Mena is shown selling illegal animals, while Garcia reports that police believe Mena is the ringleader for underground animal sales in the Fashion District.

Ring of Charity Scammers Arrested in Santa Monica, by KCAL 9's Serene Branson (10:00pm Edition, December 2, 2012)


This story featured reporter Serene Branson, a young White woman, covering the story of fraudulent donation solicitations occurring at the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade. The alleged perpetrators, Rodney Muhammad, Derek Haskins, and Jerry White, are all middle-aged to older Black males who were only depicted via their prison-issued mugshots. Gary Rhoades, a middle-aged White male the Deputy City Attorney for Santa Monica, was interviewed to provide a governmental stance on the issue, while Desiree Solberg and Tracy Ware, two young White females, were also shown and accompanied by the subheading "Shopper," to speak of their anecdotal experiences with donation solicitors.

When one considers that Mena was shown in a black-and-white still image, with a stereotypical hat worn backwards and police tape stretched behind him, while a list of charges from his recent arrests is scrolled beside him, the connections between this choice of perspective and symbolic interactionism are clear. This scene is reminiscent of a point made by Dixon and Linz, who observed that negative stereotypes can be formed when out-group members are consistently associated with criminality and vice (2000). As it pertains to the theory of symbolic interactionism, this news report illustrates the premise that individual interpretation is subject to previous social interactions, meaning that even without explicit proof that Mr. Mena represents a criminal element, the majority of viewers will make that cognitive leap of association on a subconscious level. It is also especially interesting that a pair of police officers, both of whom were White males, were included in the background visuals of the second report. While these officers were not interviewed, and provided no additional context to the story, the news station's producers chose to include multiple shots of them during the narration. This rhetorical strategy echoed an assertion made by Dixon and Linz, which holds that crime reporting on television news programs represents the modernization of traditional theatre, depicting scenes in which a devil figure is cast out of society by a protective force (2000). This particular aspect of the news report echoed the Pygmalion effect of symbolic interactionism, which suggests that individuals will behave and act in accordance with the widely held societal view already ascribed to them. It has been consistently observed by "Lemert and subsequent labeling theorists argued that secondary deviance was largely a product of societal reaction & #8230; (and) drawing on the symbolic interactionist notion of the 'looking-glass self-concept,' the theory suggests that a stigmatized individual will come to view himself based upon what he believes other people think he is" (Maruna, et al., 2004). In other words, symbolic interactionism is a dual process, and just as individuals ascribe meaning to external occurrences based on their own experiences, the human mind is also capable of internalizing the negative perceptions of others and manifesting this self-image as behavior that aligns with the original stereotype.

Works Cited

Blumer, H. (1986). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. University of California


Dixon, T.L., & Linz, D. (2000). Overrepresentation and underrepresentation of African

Americans and Latinos as lawbreakers on television news. Journal of communication, 50(2), 131-154.

Maruna, S., Lebel, T.P., Mitchell, N., & Naples, M. (2004). Pygmalion in the reintegration process: Desistance from crime through the looking… [END OF PREVIEW]

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