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symbol

Definition of Symbol

(noun) Anything that represents something else.

Examples of Symbol

Symbol Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: sym·bol

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈsɪmbəl/
  • British English – /ˈsɪmbəl/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: symbols
  • Also called symbolic representation.
  • Types: status symbol

Related Quotations

  • Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behaviour, acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e., historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached valuesculture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other as conditioning elements of further action” (Kroeber and Kluckhohn 1952:181).
  • “Culture could not exist without symbols because there would be no shared meanings among people” (Kendall 2006:48).
  • “[Culture is] a ‘tool kit’ of symbols, stories, rituals, and world-views, which people may use in varying configurations to solve different kinds of problems” (Swidler 1986:273).
  • “Symbols are instrumental in helping people derive meaning from social interactions. In social encounters, each person’s interpretation or definition of a given situation becomes a subjective reality from that person’s viewpoint. We often assume that what we consider ‘reality’ is shared by others; however, this assumption is often incorrect” (Kendall 2006:20).

Related Videos

Additional Information

Related Terms


References

Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kroeber, Alfred L., and Clyde Kluckhohn. 1952. Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology.

Swidler, Ann. 1986. “Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies.” American Sociological Review 51(2):273–86. doi:10.2307/2095521.

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Cite the Definition of Symbol

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “symbol.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved November 22, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/symbol/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

symbol. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/symbol/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “symbol.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed November 22, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/symbol/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“symbol.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 22 Nov. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/symbol/>.