Symbolic Interactionism Of George Herbert Mead Chapter 4 of Em Griffin (4th ed) Symbolic Interactionism Mead was a philosophy Professor at U. Of Chicago during the first third of the 20th century; Mead thought that the true test of any theory is whether or not it is useful in solving complex social problems After Mead died in 1934, his students wrote up his ideas in Mind, Self, and Society
Mead claimed the most human activity that people can engage in is talking to each other Blumer stated 3 core principles of symbolic interactionism: MEANING: THE CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL REALITY; Language: The Source of Meaning Thought: Taking the Role of the Other Meaning Blumer starts with the premise that humans act toward people or things on the basis of
the meanings they assign to those people or things; The construction of social reality refers to our perceptions, how we interpret things around us--what is real in social reality is what we perceive; Language Blumers 2nd premise is that meaning arises out of
the social interaction that people have with each other. Meaning is not inherent in objects. Meaning is negotiated through the use of language--hence the term symbolic interactionism Mead believed that symbolic naming is the basis for society; knowing and naming are closely linked together;
Language Symbolic interaction The words we use is not just a means for have default intelligent expression; assumptions; its also the way we The subtle tyranny of learn to interpret the symbols--we usually world; [the story of the dont consciously surgery who couldnt
think about our mental operate on the boy, p. jumps to the defaults. 55] CLICKER QUESTION According to symbolic interactionism, the meaning we get from talking to someone is found in the words uttered. A = TRUE B = FALSE Thought: taking the Role of the Other
Blumers 3rd premise is that an individuals interpretation of symbols is modified by his/her own thought processes. Thinking is described as inner conversation, called Minding; Minding is reflecting, figuring out your next move, anticipating, testing alternatives; Meads greatest
contribution to our understanding of the way we think is his notion that human beings have the unique capacity to take the role of the other. CLICKER QUESTION Inner conversation plays no role in the communication process. A = TRUE B = FALSE
Taking the Role of the Other Taking the role of the other allows us to see our self; Through meaning (interpreting the world), language (social interaction), and thought (role taking) we arrive at the self (a reflection in a looking glass); We see our self not by introspection, but by
taking the role of the other and imagining how we look to another person (the looking-glass self); The Looking-Glass Self: from Ralph Waldo Emersons Poem Emerson wrote that each close companion: Is to his friend a looking-glass Reflects his figure that doth pass According to the Looking-Glass Idea Self-concept derives
from talk; one has to be a member of a community before consciousness of self sets in; The self changes--as we interact, our self changes; For Mead, the self consists of the I and the me; The I is the spontaneous driving force (we cant observe it); The me is viewed as an
object; The I of this moment is present in the me of the next moment (p. 58); CLICKER QUESTION The I of this moment is present in the me of the next moment The statement on the left means that: A. LIFE IS EVER CHANGING;
B. WE ONLY KNOW OURSELVES THROUGH OTHERS; C. WHEN WE PERCEIVE OURSELF, WE ARE IN A DIFFERENT MENTAL STATE FROM OUR PERCEIVING MIND; Community: The Socializing Effect of Others Expectations The picture we get from the many lookingglass self reflections is called the generalized other; It is the me; The me is formed through symbolic interaction with others--the me is the
community within the person; Applied Interactionism Creating Reality: Goffmans idea that we are involved in a constant negotiation with others to publicly define our identity and the nature of the situation (the example of a gynecological examination); Meaning: Participant observation
is recommended. Mead had little sympathy for clinically controlled behavioral experiments or checklist surveys; The results of expts and surveys are quantifiable but ignore the meaning of the experience for the person; Applied Interactionism Naming: Name-calling can be
devastating because the epithets force us to view ourselves in a warped mirror; The grotesque images arent easily dispelled; Self-fulfilling prophecy: Each of us has a significant impact on how others view themselves; The tendency for our
expectations to evoke responses in others that confirm what we originally anticipated; QUESTION True or False Self-concept derives from talk; one has to be a member of a community before consciousness of self sets in. QUESTION True or False The words we use have default assumptions means that every word has many meanings
and we choose the right one for the right situation.
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