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2S06 Lecture 35.docx

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McMaster University
David Young

Fox 1 Lecture 37 SOCIOL 2S06 Thursday February 27, 2014   The Social Act: Non-Significant Gestures Involve unconscious actions Either animal actors or human actors will engage in what Mead called a “conversation of gestures” Eg. Animals respond instinctively to aggressive action on the part of other animals – so that is unconscious Eg. Humans respond unconsciously to the moves of their opponents in a boxing match or fight Significant Gestures Involves engaging in conscious thought before action Unlike animal actors, human actors have the ability to employ these significant gestures Eg. Human beings use language – verbal gestures in order to communicate with each other, and when we use language we use conscious thought as we think what we want to say Significant Symbols Gestures become significant symbols when they have the same meaning for both actors Eg. The word cat is a significant symbol – that word elicits the same mental image in everyone (we share the meaning of those three letters) because we share these symbols – we have the basis for symbolic interaction – our interaction is based on these symbols that we share with each other  Mind: Mead did not see the mind as a thing – such as a brain Mead saw the mind as involving an “inner conversation with one’s self” that becomes possible with the development of the self  Self: What is the Self? Mead saw this concept as involving the ability to take oneself as both a subject and an object We are able to see ourselves from our own point of view (as a subject), but we are also able to see our self from the point of view of others (an object) Fox 2 Lecture 37 An animal does not have a self and human infants do not have a self either when they are first born But Mead argues that the self develops in human beings through social activities and social relationships The Self and Role-Taking According to Mead, the general mechanism for the development of the self is the human ability to “take the role of the other” Through social experience, human beings acquire the ability to consciously or unconsciously put themselves in the place of others Once this happens, people can switch from a subjective point of view and become objects to themselves Development of the Self Saw the self as developing during childhood More specifically, it emerges in childhood as we progress through several stages (identifies several stages) The Preparatory Stage  human infants and very young children simply imitate (the people around them – their family) without understanding what they are doing Eg. Might wave when Dad says goodbye to them and also waves but will not understand what it means (don’t understand the meaning of this symbol is goodbye) As they grow older, children become better at understanding symbols and using symbols to interact with others They are learning the symbols associated with their culture – this varies
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