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Social Interaction, Culture, and Historical Studies

Social Interaction, Culture, and Historical Studies

(p.16) 2 Social Interaction, Culture, and Historical Studies
Symbolic Interaction and Cultural Studies
John R. Hall
University of Chicago Press

Interpretive sociology, symbolic interactionism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and ethnomethodology taken together represent the social interaction perspective. The social interaction perspective brings to the fore problems that might be sidestepped in a more objectivist framework. In order to sketch a consistent approach to cultural history, this chapter consolidates the insights of the social interaction perspective around key problems of historiography. It considers four central problems of cultural history that need to be addressed. First, definitions of culture, series, and sequence as key concepts offer an initial basis for specifying an interactionist model of cultural history. Second, there is a need to clarify the nature of the historical object (sometimes called the “historical individual”) and how it is constituted in historical analysis. Finally, the chapter examines the nature both of sociological explanation and of historical explanation, and the roles they might play in the study of cultural history. The chapter thus uses the social interaction perspective as a tool for clarifying analysis of culture, as well as the boundaries and working relationships between history and sociology.

Keywords:   social interaction, culture, historiography, sociology, cultural history, sociological explanation, historical explanation, symbolic interactionism, historical object

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