G. H. Mead: Self and Identity: Symbolic Interactionist and Social Construction of the Self

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GH Mead Self and Identity: Symbolic Interactionist; Social Construction of Self | Sociology

Symbolic Interactionist

  • Humans have thought capacity
  • Individuals learn meaning through interaction
  • They can modify it
  • Action and interaction make societies
  • Mead is one of the most significant thinkers
  • Importance of awareness of self
  • Symbols give meaning and basis for human interaction
  • Meanings shared by members of society
  • Phenomenological perspectives or Inner human Behaviour
  • Emphasis on actors՚ views and interpretation of social reality

Social Construction of the Self


  • Immediate conscious acting self
  • Creative
  • Response of individual towards others՚ attitudes


  • Stores experiences and memories.
  • Attitudes of others towards self
  • Individual assumes himself
  • Conforming


  • Created by interactions of I and me and generalized others
  • Dialectic between I and me is within the self
  • Book: Mind, Self and Society

3 aspects of self and identity:

3 Aspects of Self and Identity


  • Receives information from others
  • Adapts to environment
  • Helps in development of self


  • To see oneself from others views
  • Behaviour changes around different people


  • People around individual
  • Regular interaction

Sets of Individuals in Society

Significant Others

  • They matter to an individual
  • Their opinions matter
  • Helps in growth of self
  • E. g. Friends

Generalized Others

  • Include expectations of society as a whole, attitudes, etc.
  • Not important in one՚s life
  • Less significant
  • E. g. Movie critics

Development of Self

Play Stage

  • Preparatory stage, childhood
  • Child learns about various roles in society
  • E. g. playing teacher-student
  • Temporary role, no attachment
  • Called ‘playing at a role’

Game Stage

  • Adulthood
  • Concerns others too not only individual
  • Individual acts differently around different people
  • Plays different roles, part of personality


  • Journey from I to ‘Me’ with the help of views, opinions, suggestions of people in society
  • I was unsocialized, me is socialized
  • I and Me become one gradually and thus, identity is created
  • Me = own views + society՚s views
  • So, when individual acts he stops to think, “Should I” ?


  • Covert Behaviour – thinking process with symbols and meanings
  • Overt Behaviour – actual Behaviour


Q. 1. In symbolic interactionism, who among the following, often refers to ‘objective relativism’ as object

1. H. Blumer

2. G. Simmel

3. G. H. Mead

4. H. Spencer

Ans. 3

Q. 2. To Mead “the generalized others” and “significant others” are the creators of:

(1) I

(2) Me

(3) Ego

(4) Super-ego

Ans. 2



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