Mead Study Questions
PLAY, THE GAME, AND THE GENERALIZED OTHER
What is Mead’s question?
The personalities of children/ primitive people partake, the roles they
play, and in so far control the development of their own personality.
The buildup of character through the game.
What does Mead mean by “play”?
In play, children/primitive people takes on different roles and acts them out.
The individual stimulates him/herself t the response which he is calling out
in the other person, and then acts in some degree in response to that
He is calling out the generalized other
Play is free-flowing and precedes the game.
What does Mead mean by “game”?
The game is more structured and is governed by rules, as is social behavior
The child must know what everyone is going to do in order to carry out
his/her own actions
Organized social relationship to each other that build up the character of the
The very introduction of organization from the outside
What does Mead mean by “Organized self”?
It is the organization of attitudes which are common to the group
Personality is possible only through community, and selves can only exist in
definite relationships to other selves.
What is the difference between the game and play?
“play” undertaken by one child has no ruels
“games” have rules but differ as to the number of players, two ppl game is
simple role-taking where as multiple ppl games require taking the roles of
the “Generalized Other”
How does playing games contribute to a child becoming an organic member of
What does Mead mean by “generalized other”?
Generalized other – each player has an idea of the behavior of every other
player toward each other and toward himself.
With the help of the rules that govern the game, the child develops the ability
to take the place of all the other players and to determine their responses.
The final stage in the maturation process of the child occurs when the
individual takes the role of the “generalized Other” – the attitude of the community. ( base ball game, the team is the generalized other for the
Why is a generalized other a condition for developing a complete self, A condition
for thinking at all?
The complete self must take the role of the whole community instead of just
taking in to account the attitudes of other individuals, and must engage in the
attitudes of the social activity of the community
This is because when the individual can view himself or herself from the
standpoint of the generalized other, self-consciousness in the full sense of the
term is attained.
What are the two kinds of subgroups that people in highly developed, complicated
societies tend to belong?
1) Concrete social classes/subgroups – political parties, clubs, corporations,
having direct relationship between members which are all actually functional
2) Abstract social classes or subgroups, class of debtors and the class of
creditors, indirect relationships between members, which indirectly function
as social units but with enriches their social relations as a organized and
What is the largest possible subgroup to which one can belong?
Abstract social classes or subgroups makes possible the individual’s entrance
into definite social relations (indirect) with an almost infinite number of
Enables the largest conceivable number of human individuals to enter into
some sort of social relation however indirect or abstract it may be.
What are the two stages in the development of the self?
1) 1 stage - the constitution of the individual self by the attitudes of other
individuals toward himself and toward one another in the specific social acts
2) 2 stage- the constitution of the individual self not only by the attitudes of
other individuals but also constituted by the social attitude of the
“generalized other” (SOCIAL GROUP) as a whole which he belongs.
The self is essentially a social process going on with these two distinguishable phases
(I and ME). If it did not have these two phases there could not be conscious
responsibility, and there would be nothing novel in experience.
THE I AND THE ME
What does Mead mean by “the I”? by “the Me”?
the I is the past of me you cannot get the immediate response of the I in the process of being I (the
present tense of the self is the Me)
I remember, I think, I like... etc.
I is the response of the organism to the attitudes of the others… the ME is the
organized set of attitudes of others which one himself assumes.
The attitudes of the others constitute the organized ME, and then one reacts
towards that as an I
I is the action over against that social situation within his own conduct, and it
gets into his experience only after he has carried out the act. Then, he is
aware of the act
I is something that responds to situation within the experience of the
What is “self-consciousness”?
The individual’s ability to take the attitudes of these other in so far as is can
be organized that he gets self-conscious.
The taking of all those organized sets of attitudes give him his ME, the self
that he is aware of. (throwing the ball to another member of the team
because he is aware the other members of the team expects him to)
Explain what Mead means when he says that the response of the “I” is uncertain?
The response of the I is uncertain because the response depends on the I’s
attitude. The attitude is always uncertain because it depends on the attitudes
The response and the result action will always be a little different from
anything which he could anticipate
Scientist collect certain data which call for certain hypothesis.
We are aware of ourselves, and of what the situation is, but exactly how we
will act never gets into experience until after the action takes place.
THE I AND THE ME AS PHASES OF THE SELF
Describe how we adopt new attitudes without being conscious of it.
The individual in interaction with others inevitably becomes like others in
doing the same thing, unconsciously. We are only conscious of the process of
adapting new attitude if we DEFINITELY take the attitudes of others by
How does one get to be a definite self?
Adjusting ones’s self to other’s attitudes or fighting the others’ attitudes out is the
recognition of the individual as a self.
It is the process of using self-consciousness which gives the attitude of self-
assertion (attitude of devotion) to the community. He has become, then, a definite
self. In The individual is just acting instinctively in a certain situation, not only does he
take his own attitude but takes the dominates his subjects with that attitude.
As long as the definite self is dominating, he knows what to expect.
In order to realize the self, we must first recognize the OTHER in his relationship
to our self.
It is as he takes the attitudes of the other than the individual is able to realize
himself as a self.
One attains self-consciousness only as he takes, or finds himself stimulated to
take, the attitude of the other
When the self does appear, it appears over against the other.
The OTHER stimulates the Self to respond which stimulates the response of
How does novelty occur, according to Mead?
Novelty occurs when the response of the individual is of “ME” nature, the
first instinctive response before the individual has rehearse the situation in
his head is the novel to himself.
What is the relative value of the me and the I?
Me is the immediate experience of one’s self, the I appears in our experience
in memory (it is only after we have acted, we know what we have done).
Both aspects of the "I" and "me" are essential to the self in its full expression. One
must take the attitude of the others in a group in order to belong to a community;
he has to employ that outer social world taken within himself in order to carry on
thought. It is through his relationship to others in that community, because of the
rational social processes that obtain in that community, that he has being as a
citizen. On the other hand, the individual is constantly reacting to the social
attitudes, and changing in this cooperative process the very com-(200) -munity to
which he belongs.
A BEHAVIORISTIC ACCOUT OF THE SIGIFICANT SYMBOL
What is food, according to Mead?
Food exists as an immediate experience in its relation to the individuals that eat it.
There is no such thing as food apart from such individuals. The selection of the
characters which go to make up food is a function of living individuals. The effect
of this food upon the living individuals is what we call adaptation of the form to
the environment or its opposite.
What is conduct?
Conduct is the sum of the reactions of living beings to their environments,
especially to the objects which their relation to the environment has "cut out of
What is a significant ges