SOC 233 October 19, 2011
Mead’s: Significant Other
Significant Other: Describes people whose opinions of us alter our own self-perceptions.
These opinions matter most to us in developing perceptions of self.
eg) A teacher’s opinion of self will not be as heavily swayed when opinions come from class, as
opposed to his/her immediate family, who have a greater influence on his/her development of
Note - Mead distinguishes them from those who are only seen as non-specific composite (i.e., the
generalized other) and do not have the same impact.
Looking Glass Self: Reflection of self that comes back to you based upon the judgment of others.
Mirrored image of ourselves through perception of others.
We are directly molded through opinions or judgments others make of ourselves.
3 Stages We Create Identity:
1. Imagine how we appear to others – How you look to others.
2. Imagine judgment of that appearance – How you are being judged.
3. Develop our self through the judgments of others – Developing self through judgment of others.
Example of Cooley’s Looking Glass Self Note – As you interact with different people, images can shift.
eg) If you piss off your parents, you might not have an angelic halo above your head.
Sociologists interested in how people deal with negative judgments and how it affects
development of self.
Note – Only possible through judgments; INTERACTIONS.
We can try to resist negative images, but generally, the dominant images prevail.
ie) If negative judgments are predominant, those are the ones that will appear most frequently.
What Have We Learned So Far…
1. Looking at active role of individuals; how selves are formed.
eg) Cooley’s Looking Glass Self, Mead’s “I” and “Me,” and “Generalized Other.”
2. Importance of meaning and interpretation in everyday social situations.
eg) Blumer and Mead.
3. Social construction of social events.
ie) Established, hidden rules that indicate how we are supposed to behave in certain situations.
eg) Facing forward in an elevator instead of staring at the floor numbers move as you go up or
Note – Number 3 indicates that we have a shared meaning of how to behave.
Sociologists (Symbolic Interactionists) are interested in looking at how these ground rules
Stigma: How we create images which discredit sense of self.
Asylums: Total institutions in which you are expected to surrender identity and take on the collective
whole of this institution.
Dramaturgy and Everyday Life
Dramaturgy: Takes the dramatic situation of actors and actresses on stage and applies this theatrical
representation to everyday lives of men and women.
Looks at how individuals in their everyday lives, present themselves to others.
Focus is on impression management.
People present a script on how they would like to appear; positive images to avoid
embarrassment, shame and negative