Communication Theory Had Seen Him Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

To him, his approach was perfectly acceptable, while my place in the social group was such that I did not associate with strange people like him.

Some examples of applied symbolic interaction are creating reality, naming, and self-fulfilling prophecy. According to Erving Goffman, social interaction is like a dramaturgical performance where we are all actors, and all constantly negotiating with everyone else to publicly define our identity and the nature of the situation. "the impression of reality fostered by a performance is a delicate, fragile thing that can be shattered by minor mishaps." (62)

Baal has actually identified himself as that mishap which shatters the impression of reality. He rather specifically chooses to ignore the definitions that other people are trying to achieve, which is part of why he dresses so strangely and takes on an odd demeanor. Because he did cooperate with me or my associates to sustain the definition of reality with which we are comfortable, Baal and I were unable to communicate effectively. Name-calling can actually force a person to view themselves in a warped way, according to symbolic interaction, and this also contributed to our inability to communicate with one another. Baal had a great deal of experience being called epithets such as "punk" and "fairy," and in a most real way his view of self was shaped by those names. He actually came to identify himself with these terms, hence the spiked hair and costume wings. Self-fulfilling prophecy also played a part, as I made the decision long before actually meeting him that Baal would hit on me if I ever met him in person; when we did meet, his actions seemed to obviously indicate, in my mind, that I had been correct.

Altman and Taylor's Social Penetration Theory explains how relational closeness develops. They describe people as being like onions, with the outermost layer being our href='' rel="follow">public self that is accessible to anyone, our semi-private attitudes that are revealed to only some people sitting beneath the surface, and our most private selves being at the inner core. In order to become close to someone, one must make one's self vulnerable and allow others beneath the surface. Upon my meeting with Baal, I put up every guard I could to keep myself from being vulnerable or sharing any information with him, which according to this theory will limit or prevent closeness, and in our case created a misunderstanding. Closeness, and therefore the ability to truly communicate, "depends on the cost-benefit analysis that each man performs as he considers the possibility of a closer relationship....If the perceived mutual benefits outweigh the costs of greater vulnerability, the process of social penetration will proceed." (136) I could not see any potential benefits for me in associating with Baal, so I closed myself off to him. For Baal, there was the potential benefit of having a tudor to help with his work, which is why he chose to approach me. Altman and Taylor say that we base our decision to open up with another person based on the perceived benefit-minus-cost outcome. "Early in a relationship, we tend to see physical appearance, similar backgrounds, and mutual agreements as benefits... Disagreement and deviance from the norm are negatives." (137) on the surface, Baal and I are completely different, and it is not until a deeper relationship has been established that diversity such as that can be appreciated rather than averted. In the social exchange theory, the comparison level (CL) is the way in which relational satisfaction is measured, and the comparison level of alternatives (CLalt) measures relational stability. Compared to my usual interactions, the way in which Baal approached me did not meet my standards of appropriateness or politeness, and I perceived that I would have far better outcomes not having a relationship with him than I would in having one, which is why I shunned…

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