Credits, references, and bibliography
George Herbert Mead (see also)
Biographical Vignette: George Herbert Mead
"Mead drew on behaviorist theory to argue that behavior is based on a pattern of stimulus and response, but added that, in the case of human behavior, the mind intervenes between the stimulus and the response to provide for increasingly complex forms of action. In developing his ideas, Mead distinguished between the act and the gesture. The act refers to interactions with objects, whereas gesture refers to interactions with other people (or animals). Gestures are the movements that serve as stimuli to others. Both humans and animals employ gestures; however, it is only humans that employ significant gestures. These are gestures that involve thought before a response. For Mead, the most important kind of gesture is the significant symbol. This is the kind of significant gesture that elicits the same kind of response in others that it is trying to elicit. Language, a vocal gesture, is the most complex and important type of significant symbol for human beings."(1)
Basic insight: To understand the individual, we must first understand the group.
Key Concept: Definition of the Situation (W. I. Thomas-the way we define social situations shapes both our behavior within these situations and the consequences of our behavior).
The Act (people think before they act--the mind intervenes between stimulus and response)
Significant Symbols and Language
"In Mead’s theory, language is especially important to the development of the mind and the self. Mead defines the mind as a sort of conversation that people have with themselves. In turn, the self is a special kind of mental process in which a person is able to take oneself as an object. The ability to take oneself as an object develops in childhood through two key stages. In the play stage the child learns to play the role of someone else, and in the game stage the child learns to play the role of everyone involved in a game. The latter stage leads to the child’s ability to take the position of the generalized other, or to see itself from the perspective of a community. When self-development is complete, the child acquires the ability to distinguish between the I and the me."(1)
The Self (also)
I and Me
"These are two phases in the larger process of the self. The I is an immediate and unthinking response that is also the basis of individual personality. The me is the phase of self that sees itself from the perspective of community values and expectations. "(1)
Go to http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/DSS/Mead/MEADW3.HTML. (or, local copy)
Read the passage on the “Genesis of the Self” and answer the following questions:
a. The author notes that “a crucial landmark in the child's social development is made when, in showing a picture to someone facing him/her, the child will turn the picture away from herself/himself.” In Mead’s theory, why is this moment significant?
b. What is the important difference between games like hide-and-seek and baseball in the development of the self?
c. When is the self fully mature, and why are rules important to this maturity?
d. What, according to this passage, is the essence of self?(1)
Perdue, William D. 1986. Sociological Theory: Explanation, Paradigm, and Ideology. Palo Alto, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.
The Mead Project Inventory http://www.brocku.ca/MeadProject/inventory5.html (Phenomenal collection of work by Mead and those influenced by him)
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: George Herbert Mead http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/m/mead.htm (On-line encyclopedia entry, authored by George Cronk, provides insight on Mead's life as well as his theories and concepts).
Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~sss
The Pragmatism Cybrary: The Chicago School http://www.pragmatism.org/genealogy/Chicago.htm (This section places Mead's work within the context of pragmatic philosophy and links his ideas to others, including W. I. Thomas and Rober Ezra Park).
Qualitative Methods Workbook http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/qualmeth.html (by C. George Boeree: training site for qualitative researchers, phenomenological perspective, coupled with PO work and interviewing)
Credits, references, and bibliography
Much of this page comes from the "Instructor's Manual" to accompany Contemporary
Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics, Second Edition,
George Ritzer, Mcgraw-Hill, 2007. The Instructor's Manual was prepared by James
Murphy, University of Maryland, College Park and Todd Stillman, Fayetteville
State University. These quotes come from chapter 3.
2. Ritzer, George. 2007/2010/2013. Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics. 2nd/3rd/4th editions. St. Louis: McGraw-Hill
Unless otherwise noted,
all pages within the web site http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/ © 2013 by
Robert O. Keel.
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