Free Critical Thinking About The Concept Of The Self (Mead Vs Goffman)

Type of paper: Critical Thinking

Topic: Sociology, Symbolism, Interaction, Autism, Role, Theater, Behavior, Children

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/28


The basic concept of symbolic interactionism is interaction. And this interaction is an exchange of symbols. Symbolic interactionism (J. Mead, E. Goffman X.Blumer), based on the views of Simmel, developed his idea of ​​society as built on the exchange of gestures and symbols: interactions are carried out through language, through the exchange of gestures and symbols. For the understanding of human behavior must be knowledge of the inner symbolic meaning (code embodied primarily in a language understood by the participants of interaction) - the disclosure of significant symbols of communicative interaction. Using communicative character suggests that the interaction of all participants adequately understand the conventional language and thus successfully communicate with each other. Due to the significant symbols are easier to people the consequences of their behavior from the perspective of others and easier to adapt to their expectations.

The Concept of the Self by J. Mead

According to Mead, every man builds his "I", based on the reactions of other people with whom he comes in contact. Rod personality - is the result of social interaction in which the individual has learned to look at yourself as an object, the eyes of others. A man has as many social "I", as there are individuals and groups, the opinion he cares. Decisive role in the socialization of assigned primary groups, that make up the informal and trusting relationship. According to Mead, the conscious "I" grow in the social process. Small child discovers his “I” like being with certain intentions only in interaction with others. If a child is drawn with only one person, his development as a personality is relatively straightforward and one-dimensional. The child takes a few adults who react differently to the world. In addition, it is necessary that important for a child in contact with other "generalized other."
Seeing feature of the human mind's ability to use symbols and gestures, Mead believed that a person can be subject to himself, and as a subject. Psychic system of this process Mead calls the "I" and "me." As the subject of the "I" can be himself as an object, taking the ratio of the other to himself. Mediators of this process are "significant others", ie mother, father and other relatives.
The main role in the socialization process, according to Mead, belongs to children's games, during which the mind and the ability to develop a child assimilated the role of several persons. In the first stage of development (1-3 years) a child just trying on all sorts of roles. In the second stage together with the other begins to implement structured collaboration between the various parties (in game "Mothers and Daughters"). The criterion for the formation of a mature "I" is the ability to take on the role of the "generalized other" - with the advent of the third stage (from 4 years onwards). Mead emphasized the importance of peer relationships for the formation of an independent and responsible person.
This awareness of "generalized other" developed through processes: "The adoption of the role of" an attempt to take on the behavior of the individual in another situation or another role. "Enforcement of the role of" an action associated with a valid role behavior.

Mead distinguished three stages in the process where children learn to play adult roles.

1. Imitation or copying adult behavior without understanding the essence of this behavior;
2. Role playing - understanding of the behavior, as playing a role;
3. Collective game - the ability to respond to the expectations of the group.
Supporters of symbolic interactionism also believe that our awareness of themselves as individuals formed on the basis of social interaction. Objects become significant for us only when we give them meaning. In this sense, it can be argued that individual socio formed. Origin of “I” is completely social, its main feature is the ability to become an object for itself, therefore, the ability to self-consciousness, which distinguishes it from inanimate objects and living organisms.
According to Mead, the society and the social individual (social "I") constituted (drawn) in the set of processes of interindividual interactions. The stage of making the role of the other, the other ("generalized other") - the stages of transformation in the physiology of the body reflexive social "I". The origin of the "I" is thus entirely socially, and its main feature - the ability to become an object to itself, resulting in external social control is transformed into self-control.

Mead distinguishes two aspects of the formation of the self:

1. I - this is what I think about others and about myself, it's my inner world.
2. Me – this is that, in my opinion, other people think about me, this is my outer shell of the social, as I imagine it.
The individual believes Mead, develops self-awareness in the moment when he sees himself as others see it. The concept of the self is not innate, its origin entirely social.
Think about what happens when you meditate, or do not ask to ask the professor, reader you have on the course of the lecture. You think, "If I ask a question, he considers me a jerk. Better to remain silent ", i.e. you imagine the attitude of professor to students. In this case, how would you take on the role of professor and look at me as an object, or “me”. It is you, acting as a subject, or “I”, decide that the question is not worth it.

The Concept of the Self by E. Goffman

Many of Goffman’s works are the basis for sociological research and information concepts of structure formation. The most significant Goffman’s contribution to sociology is his definition of symbolic interaction as a form of the game, which appeared in 1959 in his book "The Presentation of Self in everyday life." In accordance with the views of Goffman, society does not have a uniform structure. In different conditions we act in different ways. The conditions in which we are forced to make decisions that do not relate to society as a whole, and have their own characteristics. Goffman considers life as a theater, but we also need a place to park your car and relieve them: there is a wider plan, which is above the level of interpersonal symbolic interaction.
One of the versions of theory of symbolic interactionism was dramaturgical sociology (the theory of "impression management). In the socio-dramaturgical approach social life is seen as the realization of" dramatic "metaphor and analyzed in such terms as" actor "," act "," mask "," backstage " , "scene". The author of this approach is an American social psychologist Erving Goffman, who analyzed the daily life as a theatrical metaphor. In this microsociological theory a central place occupies a study of everyday communication as interactions. It can be a conversation, game, greeting, pedestrian traffic, behavior in places of presence and other interactions "face to face". The behavior of individuals in the presence of others (behavior on stage) is set with a common focus of attention. Goffman believed that people's behavior in relation to each other is determined by the values ​​they attach to them. Everyone tends to make others more favorable impression of themselves. People create their own situation, to express symbolic meanings with which they make on others a good impression. Social situations can be regarded as dramatic performances in miniature, where the person behaves as an actor on the stage; and a person also acts as the author of the play, director, actor, audiences and critics, playing different social roles.
Interaction of people is the presentation of the "I", a "person" in the theater, on stage and behind the scenes. "A person is a self-image, outlined within the socio-approved and accepted by the other properties." Man "makes" his face; it may have a "false face", "lose face", i.e. look unpleasant; to save face, i.e., improve the impression of yourself. On the stage of a person plays a role that supports the right of it a positive impression; He "makes a person", expressed appearance, emotions, speech, "the expression that he gives."
Dramatic vision of communications is a way to create value in using theatrical means. The name is associated Hoffmann important for structuring communications event, PR- and advertising communications concept of frame - a sample of a typical mode of action of any event, events (press conferences, presentations, exhibitions), which has clear procedures for the organization. Method of organizing dramatic event includes the following elements: the purpose - the expected result; committed action - procedural plot; scene - the physical and (or) the socio-cultural environment action; actors’ actions; the tools used".


Verhoeven, J. (1993). "Backstage with Erving Goffman: The context of the interview." Research on Language and Social Interaction. 26 (3) pp. 307–31
Drew, Paul; Anthony J. Wootton (1988). Erving Goffman: Exploring the Interaction Order. Polity Press. ISBN 978-0-7456-0393-3.
Burns, Tom (1992). Erving Goffman. London;New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415064929.
Elliot, Anthony; Ray, Larry J. (2003). Key Contemporary Social Theorists. Blackwell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-631-21972-2.
Aboulafia, Mitchell (2001) The Cosmopolitan Self: George Herbert Mead and Continental Philosophy. University of Illinois Press.
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