A Symbolic Interactionist Analysis of the Montgomery Bus Boycott: Society as a Communicative Process
Whiting, Stephanie Misaki
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the Montgomery bus boycott: the antecedent conditions surrounding the participants, the actualization of the pretest activities, the efforts to sustain unity despite the actions of hostile authorities and the resultant successful litigation. This effort seeks a better understanding of how protest movements are shaped through social interaction and in turn, how movements are involved in the social definition of reality. The study of communication has amplified my vision cf people in society and given me the keys to a framework which would allow such an analysis. As a theory of communication, symbolic interactionism looks at both the individual and society as emergent products of symbolically mediated acts. In symbolic interactionism meanings are central; they are formed through defining activities as people interact and communicate. This transaction involves a formative interpretive process that continually defines reality; that is, reality is socially defined. Our shared perspectives are the product of communication, a process that is ongoing and emergent and more importantly, a process that enables coordination of action, what Blumer terms "joint action."