Real Social Theory in a Virtual Social Age

By Douglas McConatha, Michael J. Lynch, Leigh S. Shaffer and John Leville.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Is it possible that the tenets of one of the most revered and cited theories in social science requires modification to adjust to the new forms of social practice brought about by the digital information age? The objects of some social theories many have undergone such significant changes that a modified, ancillary or perhaps retooled theory is now warranted. However, such changes may not necessarily be the same as impacts on a particular social theory, leaving the tenets of the theory intact and basically sound even though the objects of the theory have undergone significant changes. The authors argue, however, that the objects of traditional Symbolic Interactionism indeed have changed due in part to virtual media and the rise of the digital world, noting that contemporary Symbolic Interactionism is unable to fully articulate or explain human behavior apparent in these emergent phenomena. Symbolic Interactionism has for some time, beginning arguably with G.H. Mead’s 1922 A Behavioristic Account of the Significant Symbol, been seen as one of the paramount theoretical perspectives in sociology. However, recent digital age phenomena may contribute to an alternate understanding of human interaction in postmodern and post material society. New constructs like, hyper symbol, hypervirtual telecopresence, and pervasive digital reality are discussed in relation to the above questions and some directions are suggested.

Keywords: Digital Reality, Symbolic Interactionism, Virtual World

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.299-304. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 549.860KB).

Douglas McConatha

Professor of Sociology, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, USA

Douglas McConatha is a professor of Sociology and an entrepreneur who has developed programs and organizations that use the tools of the Internet to explore human potential. He has started three Internet businesses and currently consults with select international organizations. In 2007 he received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award for his contributions to digital learning at his University.

Michael J. Lynch

Drexel University, West Chester, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Dr. Leigh S. Shaffer

Professor of Sociology, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

John Leville

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Professor of Sociology

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