George Herbert Mead – Symobolic Interactionist
George Herbert Mead, a symbolic interactionist, focused his thought on the role taking of individual behaviors. By emphasizing the process underlying social structures, Mead presents a very dynamic view of society for not only is society shaped by role taking,
it can be altered by the unchanged processes.
Mead was the originator of the thought of Mind, Self, and Society. This thought is shaped by thinking about your individual self through mind and how society sees you. Mead liked to look at the mind as something reflective; he said the mind was created by responses to environmental stimuli. He looked at the self as emerging out of the facility of using symbols and taking roles of others. He also said that there were two phases of self, the “I” which is spontaneous, inner creative and subjective, and the “me” which is the organized attitudes of others and the broader community. The “me” is derived from taking the role of others. What emerges from Meads view of society is not a vision of social structure but the underling patterns of social interaction from individualized role taking. His perception on society was that it is maintained by virtue of human’s aptitude to role-take and to assume the perspective of generalized other.
Mead had many different influences in his work. He borrowed ideas from the four biggest intellectual perspectives of his time: Utilitarianism, Darwinism, Pragmatism, and Behaviorism. For utilitarianism, Mead emphasized three points: actors seeking rewards, actors as attempting to adjust to a competitive situation, and actors as goal directed and instrumental in their behaviors.
Mead was interested in certain aspects of Darwinism. Mead argued that at birth, an infant is not a human. He said that infants acquire the unique behavioral capacities only as it adapts to social environments. Mead borrowed ideas from his intellectual peers who considered themselves pragmatists. Mead believed in the concept that humans use facilities to adapt and survive, and therefore said that everyone who wishes to adapt and survive has to adopt pragmatism.
Mead rejected extreme behaviorism but accepted its general principle: Behaviors are learned as a result of gratifications associated with them. His behaviorist ideals tie in with his thoughts on mind, self, and society because he believed that the most distinctive behaviors of humans are covert, involving thinking, reflection, and self-awareness.
In retrospect, we can conclude that mead borrowed ideas from a number of intellectual perspectives. Mead was not only influenced by these general intellectual perspectives, he also borrowed specific concepts from a variety of scholars, only some of whom worked within these general perspectives. Mead was able to take specific concepts and incorporate them into metaphors