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The Spirit of Blumer's Method as a Guide to Sociological Discovery

Symbolic Interaction

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["\nHerbert Blumer did not offer textbook‐style instructions for how to do research. What he offered, in his classic 1969 essay “The Methodological Position of Symbolic Interactionism,” is a broad account of what research must entail to accord with symbolic interactionist premises that human social life depends on meanings, interpretation, and interaction. Blumer's essay also voices a spirit of research that is ardently empirical, sociological, and creative. It is this spirit, I argue, that holds great value for guiding sociological research toward fresh discoveries. I make this argument by reviewing what Blumer meant by exploration and inspection, and then drawing out five Blumerian principles of inquiry. By embracing these principles we can avoid the problems of inadvertent theorizing, unreflective mesearch, analytic foreclosure, excessive subjectivism, and aprocessuality. I also suggest how we can enhance the sociological value of Blumer's method by paying more attention to power, inequality, and our own institutional biases. Embracing the spirit of Blumer's method, I conclude, can help a new generation of symbolic interactionists do more imaginative and insightful work.\n", "Symbolic Interaction, Volume 43, Issue 4, Page 597-614, November 2020. "]