Mead_Apr25

Mead_Apr25 - SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological...

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1 SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological Theory George Herbert Mead Key Points: ± Starting from the moment one is born, describe the main steps in the development of one’s self, according to Mead. ± Discuss the contribution of symbolic interactionism in sociological analysis, and compare/contrast it with the work of Weber and Simmel.
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2 Brief biography of George Herbert Mead ± Born in Massachusetts in 1863 ± Interrupted his PhD studies in philosophy, psychology, and economics to teach philosophy at the University of Michigan ± Became chair of Philosophy at the University of Chicago ± Key contributor of symbolic interactionism ± Died in 1931 ± His work was published posthumously as collections of his lectures ± Mead studied psychology but rejected its focus on self-understanding or introspection. ± Instead he adopted a modified form of behaviorism, which regarded action or behavior as the central human trait. ± If for Descartes ‘I think, therefore I am’, Mead would argue that I do therefore I am. The Act ± For Mead, the most elementary unit of human behavior is “the act.” ± The act, which represents a conjunction of stimulus and response, has four stages: impulse; perception; manipulation; and consummation ± An act does not necessarily involve interacting with other people; it may only involve the act of satisfying a felt need, e.g., a sensation of hunger. ± A social act, however, involves two or more individuals.
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3 Gestures ± Mead defines gestures as “movements of the first organism [individual] which act as specific stimuli calling forth the (socially) appropriate responses of the second organism.” ± Both humans and animals use physical gestures. The exchange of gestures as responses to one another Mead calls a “conversation of gestures.” ± The conversation of gestures is the beginning of communication, and humans inevitably seek communication with others. Types of Gestures ± Gestures that involve no thought are called “nonsignificant gestures”, while those that do are called “significant gestures”. ± Vocal gestures, as opposed to the physical gestures, are important in the development of significant gestures. ± While not all vocal gestures are significant (e.g.,
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This note was uploaded on 02/05/2012 for the course 920 313 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

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Mead_Apr25 - SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological...

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