According to symbolic interaction theory, it is only through social interaction that people learns and understand specific self concepts as well as larger social structural concepts. In this regard, societies influence human behaviour through societal values and norms. The main contributors of symbolic interactionism are Mead and Bulmer (Lindsey 1998, p. 2).
According to Herbert Bulmer, symbolic interactionism theory entails interaction process in the creation of meaning to an individual. Bulmer work was influenced by the work of John Dewey and Mead. In his study, Bulmer based his theory on three basic principles (thought, language, and meaning). These common principles facilitated his conclusion on the development of person’s self and interaction based on the entire community (Stryker 2000, p. 45). The symbolic interactionism theory by Bulmer offers a base to comprehend the establishment of meaning to societal objects and activities. The theory has creative meaning. It also has free will in which human being can change meaning to objects at any time. Individuals are free to search for their own meaning to objects and it uses ethnology to get meaning (Stryker 2000, p. 45).
According to the principle of meaning, human beings take action in reference to people connotation on their action. The society has the responsibility of giving meanings to people actions and objects. In regard to this, symbolic interactionism theory holds that, the meaning attached to an object or action determines human behaviour in any social setting. As stated by Bulmer, language gives meaning to symbols. Human beings negotiate meaning of symbols through language. Naming of objects in any society is based on the existing knowledge and experiences. Human beings identify meanings, naming, and develop disclosure through engagement in communication activities. Thought on the other hand helps in the interpretation of symbols