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Mead and Self

by: Jocelyn Rossell

Mead and Self Sociology 3488

Jocelyn Rossell
GPA 3.325

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Notes from Brandy- Mead, Self-Interaction, Self Development, and symbolism
Introduction to Sociological Theory
Paul Malackany
Class Notes
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jocelyn Rossell on Tuesday November 17, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 3488 at Ohio State University taught by Paul Malackany in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociological Theory in Sociology at Ohio State University.


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Date Created: 11/17/15
George Herbert Mead • Sees the self as an acting organism, not a passive receptacle that receives and responds to stimulus while functionalists see the self as internalization of social structure and culture • In Mead’s view, the actor interprets the situation he/she is involved in • the process of self-interaction in which the actor is pointing out things to himself/herself is the basis of Mead’s social psychology • the self is active and creative • interactionists reject functionalists view of the individual as shaped by social and psychological forces • mead stresses people’s ability to form and guide their own conduct • people act on their own environment and create the objects that people it. • Things or stimuli exist prior to and independent of the individual and objects which exist only in relation to acts • Things are converted to objects through the acts of individuals • The individual acts on the object, before it is acted upon, it is a thing o Tomato is food, when thrown, it is a weapon o Beer bottle is a container until it is thrown when it becomes a weapon 8. Self-interaction • How can we analyze behavior that is unstructured and not affected by previously established conventions? • Paradigms are universally recognized scientific achievements that provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners • Change to paradigms meets resistance • Discovery goes against the idea of science which is not aimed at novelties of fact or theory • People try to explain away unusual findings to show they really do not disprove the current paradigm. • A discovery that creates awareness of an anomaly continues until it can be used to fit into the current paradigm So why are new discoveries allowed to replace old discoveries? • The discoverer has to convince himself/herself that the discovery actually exists and is not an anomaly. The convincing occurs through self-interaction • The internal conversations are the means by which human beings take into account and organize themselves for action. • Self-interaction is also the basis for role-taking. Communication is a process by which each person takes the role of the other, this would be impossible without self-interaction. • Role-taking emphasizes putting one’s self in another’s place • Think about times when you talked to yourself about how to handle a new situation o You think about how to approach it. o Should you confront someone or not. 1 o If yes, how to do it. o You are rehearsing for future actions and organizing yourself for an internal conversation. The more you prepare for the situation, the more you take the role of the other. 9. Development of self • The three stages by which the self develops are the play, the game, and the generalized other • The preplay stage is made up of meaningless, imitative acts • Meanings are the objects of thought, they arise in experience through the individual stimulating himself to take the attitude of the other in his/her reaction to the object • When individuals share interpretations, an act is meaningful to them • Meaning is the joining of different attitudes and the use of symbols that have the same import for all concerned • In the preplay state, play is meaningless because the child lacks the ability to take the attitude of the other. This ability gradually evolves as the child develops a self. • The play stage, which appears later in childhood, is the stage when the child can put himself/herself in the position of another person but cannot relate the roles of the other players. Children in this stage act out others’ parts in simple role-taking that involve only one or two roles and participants. At the play stage, the child has only one alternative role in mind at a time. • At the game stage, several players act together. The player must anticipate the attitudes and roles of the other players. • The generalized other includes the organized attitudes of the whole community 10. Symbolic meaning • The meaning of symbol to Mead is derived from gesture which is not only the first element of an act but also a sign for the whole act. • The gesture, the first component of the act, is enough for the onlooker to understand the rest of the act. Reaching for a pack of cigarettes Child who is abused sees an adult pull back an arm and cringes. • The gesture is a symbol because it brings to mind the meaning of the entire act and signals the onlooker to begin to prepare for it 2


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