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Week 10 Lecture

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Dan Silver

GEORGE HERBERT MEAD LIFE -first person who was not born in Europe, was born in Massachusetts in 1863 -father was minister, mother came from family line that had valuable achievement -father taught in university (college) in Ohio – was a centre for political agenda -education was dogmatic – this is how the world is, he lost faith -after university, had pragmatic school of thought -had experience with engineer, went to college with William James, was one of James’ top students -went to Germany through college years, started first job in sociology in Chicago -the kind of education was very hands-on -he taught in psychology, inventor of social psychology = study of how social interaction shapes our minds -eventually was inspiration of symbolic interaction -he himself didn’t write very much, he found it very hard to find written words to say things -was very exciting lecturer, he died as technical author in 1931 -his key ideas came out of psychology -he was working in psychology -main idea was behaviourism = we can only study what we observe -what can we observe? behaviour, stimulus (hot/cold) and response (whatever that they do) -anything that happens in between stimulus and response is black box – does not matter -was very hostile to this way of thinking, so much of his work was getting inside black box (human mind) -was essential to accept basic principle of behaviourism = we can only study things available for observation -he thinks that the mind/tensions exists, but they have to exist in atmosphere not in our heads -human mind is observable -tried to figure out way of reconceiving something as significant THE ACT -not studying stimulus and response, studies act -includes perception, imagination, emotion, total process of human activity -this act is really the basic unit of social theory, not individuals not intensions but it’s what you do, your actions that he thinks in a way is primary, your inner life is derivative of that -dimensions involved in the act: (no order, but cannot separate them, all acts involve all of these) 1. IMPULSE o some sense, the feeling that you have to do something and take response, e.g. thirsty o should I drink water/Gatorade…there’s separation between stimulus and response o am I thirsty right now? we’re thinking about past liquids, what they did to you o as you are relating yourself to impulse, you’re moving beyond immediate presence o so gap in between impulse and response o where does impulse come from? within (inside of me) but can also be elicited (from environment – e.g. see a waterfall) o but it’s usually a combination of me and environment (inside and outside world) o the actor and environment are intertwined to each other o my impulse comes out of environment and me responding to environment at same time 2. PERCEPTION o actor is searching for and reacting to various stimuli that relate to that impulse o e.g. searching for thirst quenching beverages, reacting to my thirst o looking around environment to accomplish my thirst o see river going by, calling forth my thirst, look at it and think if river will get away my thirst o human beings select what is significant and important in river o river may have qualities that quench your thirst but is moving fast o perception is looking at object and analyze whether it is good/bad o it can start to become object that it is for you, radical ideas o food does not exist, food is created by digestive tract, food only exists when there is hunger o no such things as objects, food only exists when we have impulse 3. MANIPULATION o after you perceive something and been able to pick it up as object as response to impulse, you can pick it up and start manipulating it o go by river and pick up water with cup but might not drink it right away, might filter it o animals drink it and see if they survive o human beings area capable to experiment with environment and concludes about past/future 4. CONSUMMATION o finishing it, drink the water!...or you don’t (if it’s dirty and throw away the water) o take action which satisfies original impulse (thirst) o humans are just animals -if we follow these steps, we are less likely to die, it’s pragmatically more effective -these steps can go in different directions -it’s all at the level of one single actor acting alone -things get much more complicated when more people are involved INTERACTION 1. GESTURES o the basic unit of social interaction o = movements of the first organism which acts as a specific stimuli calling for socially appropriate response from second organism o bringing a response to you o animals do this all the time too o nature of movement is to call for movements of other animals o e.g. pecking at stuff on ground signals to chicks to go there to eat o “the act of each dog becomes stimulus to other dog…” 2. CONVERSATIONAL GESTURES o they’re not going to understand gestures o relationships takes place between one gesture and another back and forth o what does the hen mean by pecking? 3. SIGNIFICANT GESTURES o require thoughts/interpretations on actor as part of response o interpret meaning o in order for gesture to have meaning has same meaning for actor and us o creates two-way relationship back and forth o if raise fist up, it may mean aggression to us, but in other cultures may mean “hey man” o it’s only possible to have conversation when both organisms understand that same gesture o vocal gestures = word; very pragmatic to significant gestures o vocal gestures are outside of you, you can hear the word and the responder can hear it o physical gestures = facial gestures, cannot understand it 4. SIGNIFICANT SYMBOLS o = kinds of gestures but only human beings can make them, o this is where you are arousing the one making the gesture o word is a symbol not in the sound o if have conversation in language, communicating with meanings of symbols of what those gestures mean o = a form of actions where our response are similar to the responses of the other person Functions of symbols 1. Allows for adjustments -allows us to make adjustments to each other -most of the time, the objects that we’re dealing with are people -allows us to adjust our actions and behaviours – e.g. communicate to each other, warn them about things -e.g. if say something mean and nasty vocally, we know what responses to make -can prepare for response, make adjustments to environment in effective way 2. MIND -thinking = action of the mind; internalized implicit conversation of individual of significant gesture, thinking is the same as talking to other people -we think we have minds, and then we use them -it’s because we have social interaction that we have minds -we can only talk with yourself only if you know how to talk -it’s what we internalize significant symbols back on ourselves -we start to read aloud, but then people start to read silently and internalize -putting oneself in conversation with another -mind is most significant one of interaction -mind = conversation with yourself 3. Symbolic interaction – consequence of gestures -we do not interact just through gestures but also through symbols -e.g. text, msn… -that allows for more complex interaction -can write it in symbols and send it out miles away -one of the most powerful functions 4. SELF - reflexivity -arise out of this process of interaction -self = you take that mental process/activity and turn it back on yourself and make yourself the object that you’re thinking -can have mind and think about other things -make yourself thinking about it -you are a self when you take what you’re saying back to yourself -you don’t have understanding of who you are without experiencing who I am, how I should act, only if I put myself up to mirrors of other people -I can only assert myself against a set of expectations that other people bring against me -reflexivity
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