Mead: the I and the Me

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¡§Mead was to claim that ¡¥human behaviour could not be reduced to biological or physiological states¡¦. Evaluate this claim with reference to Mead¡¦s concepts of the ¡¥I¡¦ and the ¡¥me¡¦.¡¨

This essay aims to evaluate the claim made by George Herbert Mead, that ¡¥human behaviour could not be reduced to biological or physiological states. I will make this evaluation using mead¡¦s concepts of the ¡¥¡¥I¡¦¡¦ and the ¡¥¡¥me¡¦¡¦. I will begin the essay by writing an overview of Meads works, citing the influences of his sociology, moving on to explicitly denote his notion of ¡§social behaviourism¡¨ and the emphasis of the self and the mind within his works.

George Herbert Mead (1863 ¡V 1931), a pragmatist philosopher, sociologist and social psychologist, steeped in the Chicago school of sociology, with his influence today recognised as ¡§symbolic interactionism¡¨. Mead called his approach "social behaviourism." Drawing on Dewey and Charles Cooley, Mead stressed "the conscious mind and the self-awareness and self-regulation of social actors" (i.e., the individual who performs an action). Mead saw the Self as emerging from the social interaction of humans in which the individual takes on the role of the "other" and internalises the attitudes he perceives in both real and imagined others. The interaction of an individual¡¦s self-conception ("I") and the generalized, perceived view that others have of the individual ("Me") is central to Mead¡¦s sociological viewpoint. Mead asserted that by continually "reflecting on ourselves as others see us we become competent in the production and display of social symbols" (Jary, 1996, P402). Mead also believed that, while human nature is part of evolution and nature, the "importance of language and symbolic communication as an aspect of this evolution is such as to free human action from natural determinism¡¨ .

Taking a step back now I will look explicitly at Meads concept of the ¡§I¡¨ and the ¡§me¡¨. Mead drew greatly upon...
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