CfP – Special Issue – “Celebrating and Interrogating the Blumerian Legacy” #sssi #SymbolicInteraction

Special Issue Call For Papers

Jacqueline Low and Gary Bowden (Eds.)

Celebrating and Interrogating the Blumerian Legacy


Deadline to Submit Papers: September 30, 2019


As we mark the 50th  Anniversary of the publication of Blumer’s (1969) pivotal work Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method, it is timely to address debates and critical claims central to the status and future of Blumerian interactionism with a special issue of Symbolic Interaction. We envision a mix of papers which both commemorate and critically assess Blumer himself, or Blumerian theory and methodology, as well as substantive papers that add to, or provide a corrective for, Blumerian interactionism.


Among the debates worthy of reassessment is Prus’ (1996:75) assertion, that Blumer “deserves … to be acknowledged as the single most important social theorist of the twentieth century” and Maines’ (2001)  claim  that  symbolic  interactionism  is  at  risk  of  being  subsumed  by  those  who  do  not acknowledge the perspective while still using its concepts and practices.


Ripe for debate as well is Abbott’s (1997) argument that Blumer’s emphasis on the symbolic, intersubjective side of the Chicago approach led him to underappreciate the importance of time, space and context. Similarly, papers might address the Iowa School (Couch 1986); Stryker’s (1980), and other’s claims that Blumerian interactionism is astructural, or Best’s (2006:5) conclusion that Blumer is a “tragic figure” who excelled at criticism and theory but conducted weak empirical research.


Papers might also address whether Blumer was the progenitor of an active and ongoing scholarly tradition that continues to grow theoretically and methodologically. Is the perspective thriving in some ways? Or has symbolic interactionism been reduced to the formulaic application of a set of standardized theoretical and methodological practices? Do interactionists still suffer from “analytic interruptus,” the failure of research to lead to fully developed concepts and theories (Lofland 1970:42-43)? In particular, we invite papers for this special issue on the following topics:

  • Intellectual biographies of Blumer
  • Blumer’s impact on symbolic interactionist theory
  • Blumer’s contribution to symbolic interactionist methodology
  • Sensitizing concepts
  • Generic social processes
  • “Formal” sociology
  • The charge against Blumerian interactionism of astructural bias
  • The current status of the Blumerian legacy for sociology as a whole
  • The future of Blumerian interactionism
  • Substantive research that extends or corrects Blumerian interactionism
  • The integrating of other theoretical approaches into the Blumerian tradition
  • Other related topics proposed by authors


Please submit all papers through the journal’s online portal:


Cover letters should mention that the submission is intended for the special issue commemorating the anniversary of Blumer’s (1969) book.  For more information, contact the special issue editors Jacqueline Low at and Gary Bowden at, or the editor-in-chief at

About Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction - Blog

The Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) is an international professional organization of scholars interested in the study of a wide range of social issues with an emphasis on identity, everyday practice, and language.
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