George Herbert Mead.docx

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15 Apr 2012

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George Herbert Mead (American)
Born in 1863-1931. He was a puritan. His father was a professor. He studied philosophy and became a
teacher of Sociology (Social Psychology). His followers created the school of thought called Symbolic
The Act
-It was an attempt to see how the way we think of ourselves is developed in connection with our
interaction with others. The dominant school of thought of that time was Behaviourism. * Science
restricts itself to what is observable.
Behaviourism All we can observe is peoples actions and how they respond to stimuli.
Mead denies the behaviourist perspective. “How can we observe the mind?”
What is an act?
Mead divided an action into 4 parts.
1) Impulse A need that needs to be satisfied. Something happening between you and the
2) Perception Look around and search from the environment what is adequate for your impulse
3) Manipulation This is when you adjust what you need to meet your needs
4) Consumption You finally react to the stimuli. This helps humans adapt to environment.
There is always a dynamic relationship between you and your situation.
1) Gestures Movements of the first organism which act as specific stimuli calling for specific
appropriate responses from the other organism.
2) Conversation of gestures There is a communication of interactions. This usually happens with
no thought in between.
3) Significant gestures/significant symbols A gesture must have a higher level of sophistication. It
must be known by everyone. There is a level of anticipation of what will happen after.
Evolutionary this happened with language and sound.
This is all significant because
1) It allows everyone to adjust to one another
2) It allows us to have a mind
3) It allows us to develop a self
Mead: Thinking an internalized conversation. The same as talking to other people.
You learn a lot about yourself by the way people respond to you.
How do you get the ability to recognize the self?
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