We give a representation of the classical theory of multiplicative arithmetic functions (MF)in the ring of symmetric polynomials. The basis of the ring of symmetric polynomials that we use is the isobaric basis, a basis especially sensitive to the combinatorics of partitions of the integers. The representing elements are recursive sequences of Schur polynomials evaluated at subrings of the complex numbers. The multiplicative arithmetic functions are units in the Dirichlet ring of arithmetic functions, and their properties can be described locally, that is, at each prime number $p$. Our representation is, hence, a local representation. One such representing sequence is the sequence of generalized Fibonacci polynomials. In general the sequences consist of Schur-hook polynomials. This representation enables us to clarify and generalize classical results, e.g., the Busche-Ramanujan identity, as well as to give a richer structural description of the convolution group of multiplicative functions. It is a consequence of the representation that the MF's can be defined in a natural way on the negative powers of the prime $p$.