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This paper aims to analyze the article by Ross Matsueda (1992) which focuses on the theory of symbolic interactionism, and provides elaborated analysis in support of the method. In this analysis, several goals are to be achieved: to describe the main purpose of the article and its key question, to observe data and methods, which were used, and to state principal conclusions and limitations of the research.
Article’s Main Purpose
One of the principal questions in social studies is how informal groups control the behavior of their members (Matsueda, 1992). There are different approaches that explain the correlation between the self-concept of an individual and their deviant behavior. However, few attempts were made to examine social deviance from the interactionist perspective as the researchers primarily tend to focus on global self-esteem. Therefore, Matsueda (1992) aims to apply the symbolic interactionist theory to the relations of the self and delinquency, and, further, to subject the method to an empirical test.
Key Question Addressed
As it was mentioned before, most research and theory revolves around the studying of global self-esteem’s influence. However, Matsueda (1992) observes that recent empirical research in this field produced questionable results because some of the researchers found the support of self-enhancement principle and others did not. Therefore, the author attempts to dwell upon the application of symbolic interactionism to the problem of juvenile delinquency. The primary questions that Matsueda (1992) aims to answer is whether or not the theory mentioned above can be used to explain the deviant behavior, and how this method is supported by the empirical research.
Data and Methods Used
Further, it is critical to observe data and methods, which were used in support of the theory. The author states that exploring relationships between parental appraisals, reflected appraisals, and delinquency requires data that measures perceptual socio-psychological concepts (Matsueda, 1992). Data, which meets these requirements, is the national probability sample that was collected by Delbert S. Elliot as a part of the National Youth Survey. The sample was formed by randomly selecting 7 998 households, from which 1 725 youth agreed to participate (Matsueda, 1992). To employ this data for his research, Matsueda (1992) specifies the measurement models of youth-reflected appraisals, and then he integrates them into a coherent structural model, which describes the causes and consequences of those appraisals.
Summarizing his research, Matsueda (1992) states that six principal findings support the employment of the social interactionist theory. In general, these results suggest that the self, viewed by the interactionists as the reflection of external appraisals, is the cause and consequence of delinquent behavior (Miller, 2016). Additionally, Matsueda (1992) mentions that another important concept, which is provided by the theory, is the role-taking. When an individual is perceived as a rule violator, it enhances their delinquent behavior. The author states that social deviance is a circular process, in which labeling youths as troubled by parents causes more dissociation and delinquency.
However, several limitations to the research under analysis could be traced. Primarily, the results of the study could fail to apply to delinquency measures other than the index, which is used by the author (Matsueda, 1992). Secondly, there is a potential threat to the validity of causal inferences because the rule violator could serve as a proxy for the varieties of prior deviance, rather than a reflected appraisal (Matsueda, 1992). Thirdly, the sample size of the research was only applicable for the estimation of the principal components of the author’s model. However, the study under analysis is of critical importance since it provides the empirical support for the symbolic interactionist theory.
Matsueda, R. L. (1992). Reflected appraisals, parental labeling, and delinquency: Specifying a symbolic interactionist theory. American Journal of Sociology, 97(6), 1577-1611.
Miller, B. J. (2016). Emotional and neurological responses to the persistence of identity non-verification. Web.