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Concepts and Theories: Mead Concepts • Ideas, images and symbols are used to create Theories • Individuals use images and symbols are used to create in a process of visualising themselves • Identity emerges from the Explanations individual’s ability to think of him/herself in terms of the community into which s/he has been socialised. This is a conscious, creative and reflective ability
A test …• How is a sense of self linked to communication• I am … 15 terms
The results• think about the elements as a whole• nouns tend to indicate components of identity• adjectives indicate components of self-esteem• when did you begin to associate this word with yourself?• How was this association created? What role did communication play in creating the link between the term and you?
Symbolic interaction• Communication through symbols; people talking to each other – Mead disciple Herbert Blumer coined term symbolic interactionism • Meaning • Language • Thought
Meaning: the construction of reality• Humans act toward people or things on the basis of the meanings they assign to those people or things (Blumer) – Once people define a situation as real, it is very real in its consequences
Try this …• How would you explain the concept of meaning as situated in people not things to a group of children in primary school?• Think of two objects that are important to you for symbolic reasons. How would you explain the meaning of these objects?
Language: the source of meaning• Meaning arises out of social interactions people have with each other (Blumer) – Negotiated through the use of language – Extent of knowing dependent on extent of naming – Symbolic interactionism is the way we learn to interpret the world • Words have default assumptions
Thought: taking the role of the other• An individual’s interpretation of symbols is modified by his or her own thought processes (Blumer) – Thinking described as inner conversation – Minding – inner dialogue used to test alternatives, rehearse actions, and anticipate reactions before responding
Thought: taking the role of the other• Animals act instinctively; humans have brain wired for thought – “Humans require social stimulation and exposure to abstract symbol systems to embark upon conceptual thought processes”• Humans have unique capacity to take role of the other (Mead)
Reflections in the looking glass• Looking-glass-self – mental self-image that results from taking the role of the other – Meaning, language, and thought tightly interconnected – Self is a function of language – I – spontaneous driving force that fosters all that is novel, unpredictable, and unorganized in the self – Me – Objective self; image of self seen when one takes the role of the other – The “me” is viewed as an object—the image of self seen in the looking-glass of other people’s reactions
Reflections in the looking glass• Looking-glass-self (continued) – I – spontaneous driving force that fosters all that is novel, unpredictable, and unorganized in the self – Me – Objective self; image of self seen when one takes the role of the other – We can stand outside of our bodies and view ourselves as objects
The socialising of others’ expectations• Community consists of individual actors who make their own choices (Mead) – Align actions with what others are doing to form alliances – Generalized other – composite mental image person has of his or her self based on community expectations and responses • Generalized other becomes conversational partner in ongoing mental dialogue
Critique• May suffer from overstatement and not easy to summarize – Fluid boundaries – Vague concepts – Undisciplined approach• Offers insight into creation of symbolic messages and their impact on one who speaks and one who hears