Notes on Mead and Goffman - NOTES ON MEAD AND GOFFMAN In...

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NOTES ON MEAD AND GOFFMAN In contrast to Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, George Herbert Mead shifts our gaze from the macro level to the individual in interaction with the group. He was not a prolific writer but he did influence many students such as Erving Goffman, who carried his ideas through into their research, publications, and teaching. Indeed, it was Herbert Blumer, one of his students who coined the term “symbolic interaction” to highlight Mead’s ideas about how individuals construct their sense of self and society in their interactions with one another. According to Blumer, “Symbolic interaction involves interpretation , or ascertaining the meaning of the actions or remarks of the other person, and definition , or conveying indications to another person as to how to act.” Several ideas are important to keep in mind when considering Mead. The self does not really exist aside from society. A simple example is that I think of myself as an American. That sense of self cannot exist without the group – the United States of America. In my interactions with others, I learn to identify myself as an American who believes in the US Constitution and values the flag as a symbol of being an American. One can make a similar argument about thinking of one’s self as an alcoholic. One learns what that means in interaction with such groups as Alcoholics Anonymous. This example suggests that we may have multiple selves depending on where we are and learn to shift between them as circumstances warrant. What are some selves that you identify with and how have you come to see yourself in that way? An important idea is that individuals are rational actors taking into account who they are – their self in a particular circumstance – and the other actors in that situation. This is what is meant by taking a line of action. Professor Bacharach illustrated this nicely in his illustration of the guy asking the girl out for a date.
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course ILROB 171 taught by Professor Bacharach/sonnenstuh during the Spring '06 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Notes on Mead and Goffman - NOTES ON MEAD AND GOFFMAN In...

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