Symbolic Interactionist Perspective


Symbolic InteractionistPerspectiveNameInstitutionDateSymbolic InteractionistPerspective: Social Inequality

Socialinequality has been a major concern in almost all parts of the world.Many people, especially media professions have tried to talk aboutsocial inequality. Mostly, this has been accomplished by throughconducting interviews with high profile personnel who deal directlywith social inequality either directly or indirectly.

This paper reviews a TV clip by Oprah Winfrey (EUROPEAN RACISM: OprahWinfrey – Old Racists &quotJUST HAVE TO DIE&quot To Further RacialProgress!). This episode was created on 17Nov 2013 and aired on BBC. Oprah has been a famous TVpresenter who is known for her elaborate discussions on themesrelated to racism and social inequality.

The episode is mostly on the discussion of issues related to racismin Europe. We see Oprah in the studio with some personalities whoshare their experiences with racists and racism. As the episodeopens, some Black people can be seen and from the look of theirlooks, it is easy to conclude that they are not happy. This heightensthe theme of the episode on the proliferation of racism and theimpacts it inflicts on the victims.

As they discuss, all people involved use non-verbal communication toexpress their opinions and emotions. In the episode, Oprah hasinvited a guest who has been involved in the fight against racism.The entire show includes heated discussions where extensive use ofnon-verbal communication is involved. The video takes 4 min and 42seconds. The video begins by introducing the topic of discussion. Itcan be observed that Oprah is in close-up, and her face appearssomber, and this adds to the gravity of the discussion. She seemsauthoritative and disturbed, especially as she discusses with hervisitor. She used open gestures and extensive uses hands as thediscussion progresses.

In the beginning and occasionally as the video continues, somepeople, majorly representatives of the different racial community canbe seen. They sit randomly and seem to create one community. In myopinion, I feel that the community seems to be separated from oneanother. As such, it can be observed that those who are segregatedappear unhappy, reserved and abandoned. Majorly, these are theminority. It is easy to tell that the minority have been disserted.As Oprah explains, some photos can be seen. For instance, this manappears to watch his friends, most likely the other superior race, dotheir own things without involving him. The only comfort is taking alot of beer. Such a picture heightens the theme of the video on howbad racism is and the effects it has on victims.

Oprah is dressed in the red accent that can be interpreted in variousways based on the context of the video. First, the topic at handseems to be official and serious, and second, the red accent cannotbe interpreted to any pure color.

Oprah punctuates almost everything she says using her hands. Hergestures are clear enough to understand that the presentation at handis quite critical, and the mood is somber. People are seen in thebackground, and Oprah goes and interacts with them freely. Forinstance, there is a scene where she even kisses a man who is ablack. This strongly portrays the need to intermingle with oneanother and share good moments with them. Such an outlook is verysymbolic since she is a prototypical character. She can be seen toconcentrate on everything she says as she appears too serious.

The personnel she had invited seem also to be disturbed by the issueof racism. He listens carefully to Oprah, and his response can begotten from his facial expression. He appears uneasy and pissed offby racism. This implies that Oprah involved her intervieweethroughout. She seems to have explained something that really touchedher interviewee. What can be expected from his facial expression is ahearty response regarding the issue of racism.

The camera moves to three men and one lady. These people appear tothe minority. Oprah joins them as they share their meal. She seems toengage them in a talk. One guy seems to be happy enjoying himself andeven engages in a dance. As Oprah initiates a conversation with them,they appear unhappy.

Their use of hand gestures and facial expression is enough to portraythat whatever is happening to them in terms of racial segregation isunappealing to them. Use of facial expression and hands can help inidentifying people’s attitude (Knapp &amp Hall, 2009).

From the analysis of the video, it can be concluded that people takethe issue very seriously and to them, racism is not something to makeone laugh. People normally can express themselves through nonverbalcues. The expression of different characters in the video, especiallythe way they look at each other, indicates that the interests andconcerns regarding racism are perceived different. This isparticularly seen through the defensive and closed gestures as theother person is talking.

Some people may feel shy to express their opinions in public whileother like Oprah are talented orators and can easily dissuade orpersuade people by speaking her mind openly. Blumer (2006) noted thathuman beings normally change their behavior towards something basedon the meaning that that thing has on them. As people express theirpoint of view, they can modify the common meaning to fit theiropinion through the use of both verbal and non-verbal signs. Thisencompasses principles if symbolic interactionism. The analysis ofpeople mimics and gestures can enhance understanding of some of thecontentious issues.

The analysis of the nonverbalcommunication has portrayed a comprehensive picture of the issuesaffecting the societies currently. The episode was just a drop in anocean regarding racism and the related issues where each person canexpress his/her opinion on the issue. For instance, the opinion ofOprah was that &quotOldRacists &quotJUST HAVE TO DIE&quot To Further Racial Progress!”


Blumer, H. (1986, June 1). SymbolicInteractionism Theory. Retrieved April24, 2015, from Communication Studies. University of California :

Knapp, M. L., &amp Hall, J. A. (2009). Nonverbalcommunication in human interaction. .Boston: Cengage Learning.

Michael, H. (2013, November 17). EUROPEANRACISM: &quotJUST HAVE TO DIE&quot To Further Racial Progress!Retrieved April 25, 2015, from Oprah Winfrey – Old Racists :