Symbolic Interactionism Worksheet
It is important for sociology students to know the nature of symbolic interactionism and its functions. This assignment will help you understand this concept.
Read the case study prior to completing this worksheet. Cite two to four scholarly sources to support your answers:
Honor Killing Case Study
Robert Mendez, 17, lives in an eastern Los Angeles neighborhood with his mother, grandmother, little sister, and baby brother. His father died several years before in an industrial accident at the warehouse where he had worked for twenty years. The family receives a small pension and his social security. As a result, Robert’s mother has to work nights to support her family.
Robert attends the local Christian Church with his grandmother and siblings most Sundays, and he interprets the pastor’s message into English for his mother and grandmother. He also participates in customary Mexican festivities with his extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins throughout the year. Because he loves creating graffiti art, Robert has been picked up by the police but released with only warnings about the graffiti tagging.
When he was fourteen, Robert joined the local gang to which his older brother, Ricky, and several cousins belong. Ricky was killed by an opposing gang member. His brother’s death greatly affected Robert. Now Robert is the oldest and has the responsibility of taking care of his family.
As a result of his older brother’s killing, Robert is expected to seek vengeance as part of his gang’s rituals. To fail to enact this honor killing means that Robert fails to honor his older brother. He dropped out of high school due to the pressures of supporting his family by dealing drugs and working part time at a neighborhood tattoo shop. With the increase in gang shootings, the police presence in the neighborhood has increased.
Robert drinks alcohol to escape, hangs out with his gang more often, and continues to tag the neighborhood with his graffiti art. Constantly arguing with his mother about her disdain for his gang loyalty also negatively affects Robert. In desperation, his mother talks with church leaders and family members who urge her to seek help within the family only, but she also seeks help from local social services. Her pastor speaks with Robert about the planned honor killing. Robert told the pastor, “I have to do it, Pastor. I have to honor my brother.”
Local police have been alerted to the plan and send two officers to come talk to Robert. He denies everything. The police officers, former gang members, offer their assistance in getting Robert out of the gang, but he refuses their help. Robert explains to the officers that the gang is his family. Hanging with them gives him a sense of belonging to something important. At home, in school, or at church, he doesn’t feel important.
The police officers explain that the recent rise in neighborhood gang violence is due to ongoing revenge killings that need to stop. Robert ignores them.
Cite two to four scholarly sources to support your answers:
Explain whether or not this case study is an example of symbolic interactionism. Support your answer with evidence from the case study. (100-150 words)
Explain how the gang interprets “threats to honor” differently than other parts of society. (100 150 words)
Explain the influence of culture and subculture on Robert in the case study. Is this an example of how a culture is held together by Symbolic Interactionism? Explain. (200-250 words)