Social Interaction: Useful notes on Social Interactions!
Man is a social-cultural being and society is both natural and necessary for man. It is difficult for men to live in isolation. They always live in various groups and associations.
As members of these groups, they act and behave in a certain manner. The behaviour of each individual is affected by the behaviour of others. This interaction is the essence of social life. Behaviour systems grow out of interaction.
Without interaction there would be no social or group life. Mere physical proximity of individuals does not unite them into a group or social unit. It is only when they mix with one another—play or talk together to realize a common end or even compete or conflict with one another, that associative life exists.
Thus interaction is the basic ingredient of social relationships. Society is rooted in inter-action. Green defines social interaction as “the mutual influences that individuals and groups have on one another in their attempts to solve problems and in their striving towards goals.
“According to Dawson and Gettys, “Social interaction is a process whereby men interpenetrate the minds of each other.” In the words of Gist, “Social interaction is the reciprocal influence human beings exert on each other through inter-stimulation and response.”
According to Eldredge and Merril “Social interaction is the general process whereby two or more persons are in meaningful contact as a result of which their behaviour is modified, however slightly.”Thus social interaction refers to the entire range of social relationships, wherein there is reciprocal stimulation and response between individuals. An aggregate of individuals becomes a society not because each individual possesses ‘its content’ which actuates him, but because there is a reciprocal influence direct or indirect.
Social interaction produces some definite influence upon social relations that exist among human beings. It establishes mental relations among persons. It is the reciprocal influence mutually exerted by human beings through their stimulation and mutual response. According to Park and Burgess social interaction is of a dual nature, of persons with persons and of groups with groups.
The two essential conditions of social interaction are – (1) Social Contact and (2) Communication. Social contact differs from physical or bodily contact. Social contact can be established through the medium of radio, letters, telephones and other media of communication even between people who are separated by thousands of miles. Of course, social contact is strengthened by physical contact. According to Gillin and Gillin “Social contact is the first phase of interaction.”
Social contacts can be positive as well as negative. They are positive when they lead to benevolence, cooperation, mutual understanding and assimilation. They are negative if they create hatred, jealousy and conflict.
Social contacts are established through the medium of some sense organ. An object causes communication within that sense organ. Hence, the means of communication are essential adjuncts of social contact. Such means are language, script, gestures, symbols, radio, telephone, post and telegraph services, newspapers etc. Human interaction is essentially communicative interaction.