A concept first developed by William Isaac Thomas and Florian Znaniecki in The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918–20), and now central to symbolic interactionism. It is the idea that people's actions are shaped more by the subjective meaning given to their situation than by the purely objective aspects of the situation. Individuals construct the meaning of a situation on the basis of their experiences, needs, and wishes, and also on the basis of the customs and beliefs of their social group. Most significantly the concept was used to formulate an early version of the self-fulfilling prophecy: Thomas and Znaniecki argued that when people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences for all concerned.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.