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Lecture

SOCIOL 2S06 Lecture Notes - The Presentation Of Self In Everyday Life, Erving Goffman, Herbert Blumer


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCIOL 2S06
Professor
David Young

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Tuesday, March 5th and Friday, March 8th, 2013
SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY
The Theoretical Ideas of Mead
a. Society and the individual
The whole (i.e. society) is prior to the part (i.e. individual)
In order to understand the individual we have to understand the whole
b. The Act
The most basic element in his analysis
He identified four interrelated stages in what he called “The Act”
o Both lower animals and human beings ACT
o Mead was interested in the similarities and differences in terms of
how human beings and lower animals act
IMPULSE
The actor experiences an immediate stimulation and
responds to that stimulation
o Example: HUNGER (you experience hunger
stimulation)
o The actor (human or animal) may respond
immediately and unthinkingly to that impulse
o While it is possible for both animal and
human to respond immediately, there is a
difference the human actor will THINK
about the appropriate response (i.e. when
should I eat? Should I wait until lunch? Ect.)
PERCEPTION
The actor searches for objects that relate to the
immediate stimulation
The actor (human or animal) will perceive objects
through the senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch)
to perceive objects that are connected
o Example: HUNGER
o Animal or human will perceive certain objects
as food that can satisfy hunger
MANIPULATION
The actor takes action with regard to objects
This stage marked an important difference b/w human
actor and animal actor
o Example: HUNGER
o The hungry animal actor will perceive a
mushroom (for example) and probably eat it
automatically
o The hungry human actor will perceive a
mushroom and then pause (a pause after
perception) and then manipulate the
mushroom and consider further actions:
o The hungry human actor may engage in
touching the mushroom, smelling it,
and then DECIDING whether or not it is
safe to eat

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Tuesday, March 5th and Friday, March 8th, 2013
SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY
The Theoretical Ideas of Mead
CONSUMMATION
The actor takes action that satisfies the initial
stimulation
I.e. The mushroom will get eaten (however the human
is far less likely to get sick b/c of them stopping and
pausing to think about their action)
c. The Social Act
The ACT involves ONLY ONE ACTOR
The SOCIAL ACT involves TWO OR MORE ACTORS
GESTURES
The MOST BASIC element in the social act
“Gestures are movements of the first organism which
act as specific stimuli calling forth the (socially)
appropriate responses of the second organism“
- MEAD
Both animal and human actors are capable of gestures
NON-SIGNIFICANT GESTURES
Involve unconscious actions
Actors either animal or human will engage in “a
conversation of gestures
o Animals respond instinctively to aggressive
actions on the part of other animals (i.e. one
animal sees another animal acting
aggressively, then they will respond to that
aggression in kind acting with each other on
the basis of these gestures)
o Humans respond unconsciously (i.e.: to the
moves of an opponent in a boxing match or a
fencing match)
o What one actor does will illicit a
response from the other actor w/o
really thinking
SIGNIFICANT GESTURES
Involve engaging in conscious thought before actions
Animal actors CAN NOT DO THIS but human actors
certainly can (animals respond in terms of instinct)
o VOCAL GESTURES
o Important aspect of significant gestures
involve the use of LANGUAGE (used
to express/vocalize ideas)
SIGNIFICANT SYMBOLS
Gestures become significant symbols when they have
the same meaning for both actors
o i.e. CAT the word “CAT” illicit the same
meaning/mental image in the actor who is
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