Difference Between Symbolic Interactionism and Social Constructionism

When it comes to sociology, it can be described as a social science that aims at human social behavior, social relationship patterns, culture’s aspects, and social interaction linked with everyday life.

They mainly use critical analysis and empirical investigation methods. Mainly, to develop a knowledge body about social change and social order.

Sociology’s traditional focuses comprise law, deviance, social class, gender, sexuality, social stratification, etc. There are several sociological theories like conflict theory, objectivity, and subjectivity, structural functionalism, strain theory, etc.

In this article, the chief aim is on differentiating symbolic interactionism and social constructionism.

Symbolic Interactionism vs Social Constructionism 

The main difference between symbolic interactionism and social constructionism is that a society analysis through addressing the subjective definition that people give behaviors, events, and objects is described as symbolic interactionism. On the other hand, social constructionism generally states knowledge is a construct of society. 

Symbolic Interactionism vs Social Constructionism

Symbolic interactionism is also known as symbolic interaction perspective which is a major sociological theory’s framework. This perspective generally relies on the symbolic meaning that build and develop upon in the social interaction process by people.

The importance of symbolic interactionism can be seen in social psychological and micro-sociology.

Social constructionism has been instrumental in grounded theory modeling. In attempting to make the social world since the view of knowledge of social constructionist as contrary to created.

The origin of social constructionism is an attempt to become to terms with reality’s nature.

Comparison Table Between Symbolic Interactionism and Social Constructionism 

Parameters of ComparisonSymbolic Interactionism Social Constructionism 
FatherGeorge Herbert MeadThomas Luckman and Peter L. Berger
FocusMaking sense of social and self-rolesMaking sense of the structure and nature of social work
NatureMicro-level theoryMacro-level theory
BackgroundMass immigration to Chicago and Chicago school of thoughtThe social construction of reality
ExampleA bald eagle means America and freedom.Blue is for boys, while pink is for girls.

What is Symbolic Interactionism? 

Symbolic interactionism is a theory that is linked to sociology and develops from practical alludes and considerations to specific interaction and communication’s effect in people. Usually to make normal implications and images for correspondence and deduction with others.

Many symbolic interactionists believe in indeed the existence of physical reality by the social definition of an individual. That social definitions do evolve in relation or part to something real.

Thus, people fail to respond directly to this reality but rather to the reality’s social understanding.

The majority of research interactionists use qualitative research methods such as participant observation for studying social interaction’s aspects and selves of the individual.

They argue that close immersion and contact in the everyday participant’s activities is vital for understanding the action’s meaning.

Symbolic interactionism is criticized for being in the research methods overly impressionistic and unsystematic in their theories. The theory is not only one theory despite rather the framework for several distinctive theories.

Due to symbolic interactionism’s lack of testability, some theorists have a problem with it.

What is Social Constructionism? 

Social constructionism is a theory in communication theory, social ontology, and theory in sociology that proposes that there are certain fact kinds.

They rather than depend on reality, instead of depending on the shared thinking’s way and world’s representation that people’s group evolve collaboratively.

Social constructionism centers on the notion that meaning is evolved in coordination with others in comparison to separately by each individual.

This theory has often been characterized as a neo-Kantian or neo-Marxism theory in which social constructionism switches the transcendental subject.

Some of the social constructs are obvious like money or the currency’s concept in that people agreed to offer value/ importance. Meanwhile, others are controversial and debated hotly like the self-identities concept.

There is strong and weak social constructionism. Strong social constructionism generally undermines the science’s foundation as the theory and objectivity’s pursuit. Week social constructionism relies on brute facts related to physical particles or simply institutional facts.

Main Differences Between Symbolic Interactionism and Social Constructionism 

  1. The chief function of symbolic interactionism is to examine how humans use symbols mainly for communication/interaction with each other. On the contrary, social constructionism examines how humans construct theoretical principles and concepts, as a society.  
  2. When it comes to theory, symbolic interactionism comprises social action (product of interactions), social interaction (origin of the meaning) and humans act on meaning. On the other hand, symbolic constructionism comprises groups & people actively maintain & form their own perception of reality.  
  3. The advantage of symbolic interactionism is that it fails to pose one society while rather focusing on acts of individuals and what goes on between people. In contrast, the advantage of social constructionism is that it shows how the stance of social constructionists can be used for inquiry critically.  
  4. The disadvantage of symbolic interactionism is that we fail to choose action’s consequences and also underestimate the structure’s power. On the flip side, the disadvantage of promoting social constructionism is that we almost necessarily abandon the idea that truth exists.
  5. Symbolic interactionism and social constructionism are two sociological theories in which symbolic interactionism analysis a society through addressing the subjective definition that people give behaviors, events, and objects. Meanwhile, social constructionism generally states knowledge is a construct of society.


It can be concluded that symbolic interactionism social constructionism is two of the theories included in sociological. The focus of symbolic interactionism is mainly on making sense of social and self-roles.

On the contrary, making sense of the structure and nature of social work is the chief focus of social constructionism. In terms of nature, the micro-level theory is symbolic interactionism’s nature, whereas the nature of social constructionism is mainly macro-level theory.

When it comes to father, George Herbert Mead is the well-known father of symbolic interactionism. Meanwhile, Thomas Luckman and Peter L. Berger are two of the father of social constructionism.

The instance of symbolic interactionism is that “a bald eagle means America and freedom.” Mass immigration to Chicago and Chicago school of thought is the background of symbolic interactionism.

In contrast, the social construction of reality is the background of social constructionism.   


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=HVuognZFofoC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=symbolic+interactionism&ots=4oShI7CW5A&sig=MUflpkAguB1YBFpfJkRMr4GrByo
  2. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781315715421/social-constructionism-vivien-burr
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