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Lecture 4

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC483Y1
Professor
Vanina Leschziner
Semester
Fall

Description
SOC483Y1- LECTURE 4 OCTOBER 5, 2011 MIND, LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL INTERACTION  George H. Mead, selections from “Mind,” chapter 2, and “The Self,” chapter 3 in Mind, Self, and Society (The University of Chicago Press, 1934), pp. 75-82, 135-144, 152-178, 192-200.  Ferdinand de Saussure, selections from “Introduction,” and “General Principles” in Course in General Linguistics (Mc Graw-Hill, 1966), pp.7-17, 65-70, 81-87. Mead- Understanding of language- connection between Durkheim Because we will talk about concepts/categories, it is good to learn about words, what is a word? What is a concept and how do we greet certain concepts? Today we are going more inside the mind, how Mead understands the mind, where does our sense of self come from, how do we see/understand/think about ourselves, which all comes from society for Mead! TheLooking Glass Self by Cooley (1864-1929 US) – important source for Mead - 3 steps in the looking glass self: 1. The imagination of our appearance to other people, 2. The imagination of their judgement to that appearance 3. Some sort of self feeling we develop The fact that you think I’m wonderful gives me a good self feeling even if it is not true! – Not that we get into each other’s minds, it is just we are always making interpretations Cooley set the basis used method called introspective and studied the minds and what went inside. One break through, before Cooley there were a lot of theories where we learned how to behave in a group through imitation, via Tarde, we learn by imitation thus how we incorporate normative behaviour. But Cooley said that is wrong and that we learn through communication and meaningful ideas passed down. That was his break through based on ideas and what went on in the mind. Mead is part of Pragmatists – (1863-1931) – group in Massachusetts that developed new way of understanding action – names associated – Dewey, Charles Pearce What was special about pragmatism? They connected in a new way the understanding of theory and action by making it less separate. They thought on the one hand regular folks theorize, we find patterns to predict what to do, we get certain ideas, to allow us to get by. We are thus constantly theorizing about what we see around us. On the other hand, with those in academia they should look at behaviour itself, not just ideas. So in Mead’s book “Mind Self and Society from standpoint of Social Behaviourist” – scholar’s stress we must look at behaviour to understand what is going on in one’s mind – in order to understand action – BIG DEPARTURE FROM COOLEY, WHICH mead TOOK! - Mead contributed a theory of how the mind and self emerged from the process of communication through signs (significant gestures) - connection to symbolic interactionism – meaningful symbols comes from Mead o Idea of behaviourism based on the fact we need to look at conduct/attitudes/behaviour- opposed to habit – Mead makes a distinction between behaviour and habit o Habit- something we do repeatedly, something we are not aware of, no self- reflection o In Mead’s sense having a coffee at 3 in the afternoon is not a habit because it is conscious o Another example of a habit- twitching when talking or touching hair – not aware when you are doing it – so vs. anything conscious is not a habit in that there is some self-reflection – so putting socks on you make the decision if you are hot or cold o Is breathing a habit? – it is necessary to breath, you can meditate and thus be aware of it – so with Mead, he means something that is not conscious and not a necessary function of the body - Self-consciousness is important for Mead – being aware of self as an object. – To take the position of the other, the idea we are self-conscious is that we can see our self as an object – step out of self and look at self from outside, in the way you think other people see me “Looking Glass Self” – takes us to the idea of THE SELF - THESELF- one part that is the internalization of how others see you, there we see how self is the object, but also self as part of subject. o For Mead what distinguishes us from non-human animals = LANGUAGE- allows us to exchange significant gestures, meaningful gestures and incorporate the idea of how others see us and thus see selves as object, be self-conscious = something animals cannot do. - Important to know difference between consciousness and self-consciousness when understanding the self SOCIAL STRUCTURES connected to MEANING and CONVERSATION OF GESTURES - Conversation of gestures: gestures have meaning for Mead, what matters for the development our minds/self/society are things that have meaning, that interaction that has meaningful purpose. You have a gesture to me like smiling and I will have a significant gesture in return – and thus significant social meaning taken from that interaction - Significant gestures- are those that matter in a conversation because they have a certain meaning o if yousmile- that could havemeaning– butmay not be understoodproperly o in conversation of gestures we are alwaysmaking interpretations - Pragmatism – constantly theorizing about life so think about it in those terms we are always interpreting what people do, we theorize, then have patterns Conversation of gestures- allows us to develop a sense of self. Originated in the Looking Glass Self, always through interactions with other people… That conversation of gestures can happen inside our minds for Mead, we do not need to be interacting with others, but we need to be part of social group to develop sense of self, but if I do not form or part of any group whatsoever I will never be able to see self as object, so only once we see self as via generalized other perspective- we can then see self as an object… this is how you can be self-conscious – need to be part of group, part of a society to develop sense of self GENERALIZED OTHER – the ME part = once this is obtained, can have conversation of gestures with self Words are gestures too – we just tend to interpret physical action as gestures – words are meaningful gestures We can have conversation of gestures in our minds – HOW? o Ex: in a class room – think if my question is dumb, everyone may know the answer etc. you go through that conversation of gestures in your mind, sometimes have great questions but don’t ask – because internalized “my sense” of the generalized other – you have that dialogue with yourself This leads us to why theself is asocial structure (not like Marx, Simmel, Durkheim interpretation) - How is it social? Social community exists prior to self – you have conversation with self and community - Mead says it is social in form in that you are having conversation of gestures, can have it in private/public, not necessarily social in content, social due to structure - One may have most anti-social thoughts – but it is the conversation of gestures, it is the dialogue - Mead and children- from developmental psychology, how kids develop certain skills, toddlers do not have capacity to view generalized other – PLAY and GAME o Understand one role at a time o As you grow you play games o Sports games o To be a good player you must anticipate what people will do… develop sense of generalized other, what people will do in particular circumstance, so via playing games you take role of the other and develop sense of generalized other- a sense of commonalities – once you have that sense you can incorporate it in yourself o That becomes your ME o Once you incorporate that generalized other! = me ME - Always there - Conventional rather than spontaneous because it is shared to a certain degree by those in the community which has a relation to NORMS - The me is a part of yourself, the part that is conventional and not spontaneous - It is the part that controls action and behaviour - NORMS- when we think of the ME and the GENERALIZED OTHER – it is NORMS- we have incorporated a normative behaviour of what is accepted and not accepted - Generalized other internalized in our minds - Sense of attitudes, responds trying to fit the norm or in a way you think will be accepted by generalized other I - Spontaneous - Creative - We never know what the “I” will do until we have done it!
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