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Manford Kuhn

(1911—1963)


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(1911–63)

A leading symbolic interactionist, who developed a more quantitative strand of interactionism, and argued that the methodology of the Chicago School was too vague to permit scientific precision. Kuhn and his colleagues attempted to give operational definitions to such concepts as ‘social act’ and ‘the self’. The most familiar of his research instruments was the so-called Twenty Statements Test, which asked people to list twenty responses to the question ‘Who Am I?’, as a basis for a more objective study of the self.

Kuhn's distinctive ‘Iowa School’ of symbolic interactionism is often contrasted with the more humanistic approach of Herbert Blumer and his colleagues at Chicago. The methodological pluralism of the School is illustrated in the work of Norman K. Denzin. Trained in the Iowa School, Denzin has subsequently undertaken research in the areas of childhood, emotions, alcoholism, life-histories, and film, using a variety of quantitative and qualitative techniques and advocating the research methodology of triangulation (see The Research Act: A Theoretical Introduction to Sociological Methods, 1978, and Sociological Methods: A Sourcebook, 1978). Most recently Denzin has described his work as Interpretive Interactionism (1990).

Subjects: Sociology.


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