Throughout the year we have examined the ways in which society controls, constrains, and influences us as individuals. Society impacts us this way by creating a system in which rules, laws, or norms shape the individual. We have seen how these rules made can effectively control the individual, and in turn create more individuals that fit society’s standards. By doing this society must be manipulating individual’s behavior. George Herbert Mead was the leading sociologist to inquire about this phenomenon.
It is through his concept of Self that we see the relationship between societal pressure and individual behavior formation. In Mead’s book Mind, Self, and Society the relationship between Self and society is examined. The Self for Mead is an individual’s self-consciousness. In order for an individual to create the Self the must be able to examine their selves objectively and subjectively.
Objective thinking is examining oneself through others perspectives, while subjective thinking is examining oneself through ones own mind. represented in the word “self,” which is a reflexive, and indicates that which can be both subject and object… and in the past has been distinguished as conscious, a term which indicates an experience of, one’s self. ” (Mead, 2008, 333).
This quote by Mead indicates that humans can examine their lives through others points of view, and they do so through their consciousness. Consciousness for Mead is the ability to think about what others are thinking is the basis for how individuals are shaped by society.
Theories Of Symbolic Interactionism, Exchange Theory And Rational Choice Theory This essay will address actions of individuals and the contribution individual actions make to the social structure, how society flows to the actor via the Me and is constructed or reconstructed by the I, giving the I a place in creating society. I will further analyze the theories and explore the impact of norms and ...
This is because by examining ourselves through others we can change/create ourselves in accordance that is suitable for our surroundings. Two other import themes for Mead that influence the Self are language, and social experiences. Languages are the universal symbols that individuals use to communicate, and social experiences are events individuals encounter that are a byproduct of societal norms, rules, and values. For Mead language is an essential tool for socializing individuals. not communitcation in the sense of the cluck of the hen to chickens… but communication in the sense of significant symbols, communication which is directed not only to others but also to the individual himself… that we have behavior in which the individuals become objects to themselves. ” (Mead, 2008, 334).
This quote explains the process in which an individual uses communication through language and symbols in order to create their Self. It is through the symbols that we learn in society that allows us to prevent an ineffable definition of Self.
People learn from these social experiences, gestures, and indicators which allow them to create their own Self, and act accordingly when presented with similar social experiences. These two themes for Mead are almost one in the same. For without language social experiences would not be possible, and without social experiences language would not be necessary. They are both reliant on one another in the process of shaping an individuals form of Self. The last concepts of Mead’s Self are that of play, the game, and the generalized other.
These are stages in which individuals start to develop their sense of Self. The play stage is the ability to assume only one individual at a time. In the play stage a child is developing his objective views of other individuals. An example of this is a girl playing mom. The girl in a sense imitates what she has seen from experiences of what mothers do, and recreates this through play. The game stage is different from the play stage because it takes on the role of multiple individuals at the same time. This can be seen through recreational sports play.
Within everyday life people believe themselves to be constantly changing. In actuality, the changes that one believes to have are but minor changes. A person's personality is usually set at an early age in childhood. A social psychologist named George Herbert Mead understood society through socialization stems he called social behaviorism. Mead and another psychologist by the name of John B. ...
In a sport the individual knows what he/she must do, but at the same time understands that other teammates are playing their own role in order to accomplish their goal. Mead gives an example of the act of throwing a ball, and that the other will reciprocate the action by catching the ball. This process of game stage is an important in the development of the individuals Self. In this stage they learn that actions by others warrant an according and proper response.
The generalized other is one of the most important concepts of Self that Mead addresses. It is in the form of the generalized other that the social process influences the behavior of the individuals involved in it and carrying it on that… for it is in this form the social process or community enters as a determining factor into the individual’s thinking. ” (Mead, 2008, 340).
Mead is explaining that through the individual’s objective thinking of the group, and that group’s attitude toward them. It is through this that the individual is able to internalize the group’s attitudes about themselves, and in turn shape their behavior/Self to suit the group.
Mead’s concept of Self is his most important contribution to the field of sociology. It not only changed the way people think about how individuals are shaped by society, but also spun off an entirely different sociological approach to studying people. For Mead the Self is a creation of society’s social facts. These facts which are comprised of norms, rules, and laws illustrate to the individual the proper way to behave in society. It is through our own consciousness that we collect these social facts, and create our own Self in accordance to these facts.