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Introduction Since 2013, the city of Doha has been organizing and hosting the Ajyal Film Festival which was inspired by the Giffoni film festival in Italy, with the purpose of focusing on and empowering the youth through the cinema. In this event, selected films are displayed but it is the youth who act as judges and jury. Ajyal Film Festival, however, has been held in tandem with the Geekdom Exhibition which is a community engagement exhibition that focuses on pop culture themes covering film, video games, music, art, TV series and creative art. Combining the two events was intended to enrich the Ajyal Film Festival as a social and community-based experience, to expand the targeted audience, and to encourage interaction among audiences characterized by different demographics and psychographics. In 2016, Geekdom attracted over 9,000 visitors over five days. In 2017, the number was significantly higher despite the blockade on Qatar. The purpose of this paper is to critically analyze the Geekdom event by applying Joseph Rossman’s principles of symbolic interaction theory. The objective of this analysis is to evaluate the event and its effectiveness in delivering its goals, and to identify any potentials for improvement in the future. Literature Review Symbolic interaction is one of the earliest theories on sociology, originally developed by the American philosopher George Mead who proposed that the mind and ego are the product of society. Much of Mead’s ideas were later developed by his student Herbert Blumer who actually developed the theory and coined the term symbolic interaction (Aksan, 2009). According to Blumer (1980), people interact to meaning which is attributed to objects and events, defining meaning as a physical attachment imposed by humans on those objects and events. In other words as Andersen, Taylor and Logio (2015) explain, according to this theory people behave not according to objective facts but according to how they believe. Hence, people behave based on the subjective meanings they attribute to other individuals, behaviors and objects rather than according to what may be objectively true. In fact, the entire human society is constructed through this process of interpretation, while taking into consideration the assumption that meaning is not constant, but rather, constantly changing through social interaction. According to social interaction theory, people interpret behaviors and then form social bonds or relationships accordingly based on their subjective understanding and definition of a situation. For example, although most young people are fully aware of the dangers of smoking, they still smoke because they interpret the behavior of smoking as something cool that is associated with a positive attribute image or interpretation (Andersen, Taylor & Logio, 2015). Understanding and evaluating an event or a situation, therefore, was not just a matter of assessing facts, numbers and data, but rather, a process of interpreting the interaction of meanings and symbols associated with the event. According to Blumer (1979), in assessing any situation or event, “one must see that activities of the collectivity as being formed through a process of designation and interpretation.” In short, symbolic interactionism according to Andersen and Taylor (2008) is essentially focused on face-to-face contact, and on understanding how people define situations to understand what motivates and drives their behavior. Society, according to this theory, simply exists in the imagination of people. Moreover, as Shneider (2010) argues, symbolic interactionism also proposes that individuals develop a sense of the individual self through interacting with others. Hence, it is the interaction among individuals in society and the manner in which they interpret others that they eventually reach a definition of their own selves. Blumer (1979) proposed a process based on three core principles in symbolic interaction, namely meaning, language and thought. In the meaning process, people behave toward others and react to them according to the assumptions and meanings they attribute to them. At the same time, language defines and reinforces symbols, making interaction understandable according to the names that individuals attribute to objects, concepts or actions. The thought process, on the other hand, is how individuals interpret the meanings of symbols, interactions, and situations and how the unknown can be understood or conceptualized based on known or previous knowledge. The symbolic interaction theory does not only provide a framework to understand how individuals interact in society, but according to McCall and Becker (1990, p.9) it also explains how groups and subgroups become their own worlds within society, based on common and shared interests, tasks, meanings and symbols. They propose symbolic interaction as an appropriate framework to understand and analyze subgroups or events or any context in which “people are connected through their joint involvement in a task or event of a repetitive kind. Whenever social events happen routinely, we can expect to find a world.”Likewise, Gordon (1997) argues that symbolic interaction is a powerful platform for the understanding and analyses of certain functions and professions such as event management, public relations, and leisure since the activities within these professions constitute active and repeated processes of participation in the social construction of meaning. This view is also shared among sociologists and practitioners with an interest in the world of arts. For example, Sargent (2010) argues that although art movements may be seen as the product of individual innovation and creativity, in reality, they are to a great extent shaped by social processes and meaningful interaction. Similarly, Schneider (2010) argues that the world of music is a world where individual artists develop a sense of the self and their identity through interacting with others who in turn attribute identities to them. Joseph Rossman was among the scholars who proposed an analytical framework for events based on symbolic interactionism (Berridge, 2003). The framework constitutes of six elements, namely interacting people, relationships, rules, objects, physical setting and animation. Each of these elements or dimensions can be used by practitioners when designing and executing an event, or when analyzing and evaluating an event. According to Rossman’s model (Rossman & Schlatter, 1989), interacting people do not only include the participants and guests, but the other stakeholders who may contribute to the event or may be affected by it, and these must be taken into consideration during the design as well as during the evaluation. Relationships, in turn, constitutes of the nature of relationships as a result of the interactions resulting from the event and its various aspects. Rules, on the other hand, represent the rituals, regulations, and norms that are incorporated in the event to direct or guide the behaviors of participants and others who are part of the event. In contrast, the physical setting of the event relates to how the space is designed, divided, and allocated to serve the purposes of the event. Objects, likewise, constitute of the physical and abstract items that are used to fill the setting and which are intended to aid interaction and to contribute to the creation of meanings and symbols, and these may include the lights, props, decoration, and any other items used by the organizers. Finally, animation refers to the movement of people from the moment they start interacting with the event until the end, and it may be seen as a form of choreography that is designed by the organizers for the participants, with the ultimate goal of developing the desired experience that contributes to creating the intended or desired meanings and symbols (Berridge, 2003).

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