George H. Mead Key Concepts
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. 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...
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