Sociology Index

George Herbert Mead

George Herbert Mead was a philosopher, sociologist and psychologist. Among distinguished sociologists, George Herbert Mead, through his lectures, came to have a profound effect on the development of symbolic interactionism. His lecture notes were posthumously published in a number of major volumes - Mind, Self and Society, The Philosophy of the Act and The Philosophy of the Present. The most important roots of George Herbert Mead's work, and of symbolic interactionism in general, are the philosophy of pragmatism and social behaviorism. Pragmatism is a wide-ranging philosophical position from which several aspects of George Herbert Mead's influences can be identified.

In George Herbert Mead's philosophy, the self emerges through the process of social interaction with others. In his social behaviourism, the conditioned responses of human beings include gesture and role-taking, which are the bases of social life. Gestures and conversation are crucial features of the symbolic interaction, the distinctive feature of which is that the individual can imagine the effect of symbolic communication on other social actors. Human actors carry on an 'internal conversation' with the self and and anticipate the response of other actors. We imaginatively assume other social roles and internalize the attitudes of the generalized other, the attitudes of the social group.

George Herbert Mead's Concept of Society: A Critical Reconstruction by Jean-François Côté offers a new look at Mead's concept of society, in an attempt to reconstruct its significance for sociological theory.

George Herbert Mead was a prolific writer and published numerous articles and book reviews in both philosophy and psychology. Following his death, several of his students put together and edited four volumes from records of Mead's social psychology course at the University of Chicago. 

George Herbert Mead's published papers include "Suggestions Towards a Theory of the Philosophical Disciplines" (1900); "Social Consciousness and the Consciousness of Meaning" (1910); "What Social Objects Must Psychology Presuppose" (1910); "The Mechanism of Social Consciousness" (1912); "The Social Self" (1913); "Scientific Method and the Individual Thinker"(1917); "A Behavioristic Account of the Significant Symbol" (1922; "The Genesis of Self and Social Control" (1925); "The Objective Reality of Perspectives" (1926); "The Nature of the Past" (1929); and "The Philosophies of Royce, James, and Dewey in Their American Setting" (1929).