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Towards a New Partial Theory of Symbolic Praxis

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Abstract:

“Towards a New Partial Theory of Symbolic Praxis” Alem Kebede, Professor of Sociology

My primary objective in this study is to add a new dimension to the social pragmatism of George Herbert Mead thereby suggesting a new partial theory of symbolic praxis. Mead has made an important contribution the theory of symbolic praxis aptly emphasizing the social making of emblematical objects. However, in spite of his significant contributions, Mead and his subsequent adherents have rarely addressed the issue of what happens to social objects once they assume an important place in the social order. I contend that the fate of social objects once they become part of a social landscape is much more dynamic than what is usually assumed. A new theory of symbolic praxis, I believe, should address two interrelated processes in the treatment of social objects, viz., thingification and signification. Both acts of thingification and signification are critical aspects of symbolically mediated social interactions. In thingification, an attempt is made to reduce a social object to the level of a “thing,” that which is socially non-consequential at best or socially distasteful at worst. Conversely, in signification an object is made socially important, worthy of one’s attention at least or reverence at most. Using historical data, an attempt will be made to accomplish three goals: demonstrate how acts of thingification and signification operate at various societal levels, elaborate the symbolic instruments utilized in their execution, and explain the duality of symbolic praxis, that the two processes imply one another.
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Name: Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.pacificsoc.org


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MLA Citation:

Kebede, Alemseghed. "Towards a New Partial Theory of Symbolic Praxis" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Marriott Downtown Waterfront, Portland, Oregon, Mar 27, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706029_index.html>

APA Citation:

Kebede, A. , 2014-03-27 "Towards a New Partial Theory of Symbolic Praxis" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Marriott Downtown Waterfront, Portland, Oregon <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706029_index.html

Publication Type: Formal research paper presentation
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: “Towards a New Partial Theory of Symbolic Praxis” Alem Kebede, Professor of Sociology

My primary objective in this study is to add a new dimension to the social pragmatism of George Herbert Mead thereby suggesting a new partial theory of symbolic praxis. Mead has made an important contribution the theory of symbolic praxis aptly emphasizing the social making of emblematical objects. However, in spite of his significant contributions, Mead and his subsequent adherents have rarely addressed the issue of what happens to social objects once they assume an important place in the social order. I contend that the fate of social objects once they become part of a social landscape is much more dynamic than what is usually assumed. A new theory of symbolic praxis, I believe, should address two interrelated processes in the treatment of social objects, viz., thingification and signification. Both acts of thingification and signification are critical aspects of symbolically mediated social interactions. In thingification, an attempt is made to reduce a social object to the level of a “thing,” that which is socially non-consequential at best or socially distasteful at worst. Conversely, in signification an object is made socially important, worthy of one’s attention at least or reverence at most. Using historical data, an attempt will be made to accomplish three goals: demonstrate how acts of thingification and signification operate at various societal levels, elaborate the symbolic instruments utilized in their execution, and explain the duality of symbolic praxis, that the two processes imply one another.


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