UPSC SOCIOLOGY – SOCIOLOGICAL THINKERS – Mead : Self and identity.
- Self is defined by Mead as the particular ability to be both subject and object.
- Lower animals do not have selves.
- Self arises with development and through social activity and social relationships.
- According to Mead, the self is essentially a social process going on with these two distinguishable phases – The I and Me are processes within the larger process of the self and like the self, they are also not things.
- The I is the immediate response of an individual to others.
- It is the incalculable, unpredictable and creative aspect of the self.
- We are not totally aware of the eye and surprise ourselves with our actions.
- Mead places great stress on the I for four reasons
• It is a key source of novelty in the social process and gives dynamism to the individual personality.
• It is in the I that are our most important values are located.
• I constitutes something that we all seek which is the realisation of the self.
• People in primitive societies are dominated more by the ME while in modern societies there is a greater component of the I.
- ME is the adoption of the generalized other and Mead calls it ‘social self’.
- ME is defined as the organised set of attitudes of others which one himself assumes.
- The ME involves conscious responsibility.
- Conformists are dominated by ME.
- It is through the ME that society dominates the individual.
‘I’ AND ‘ME’
- The I and ME have contrasting natures.
- Mead defines the idea of social control as the dominance of the expression of the ME over the expression of the I.
- The ME allows the individual to live comfortably in the social world while the I makes a change in the society possible.
- I is the immediate response of an individual to others and the ME is the adoption of the generalized others .
- I initiate change whereas Me promotes Status Quo.
- Mead is criticized for ignoring biological or genetic influence on human attitude.
- He focuses upon individual interactions in vacuum.
- Mead portrays social life as too consensual.
- Mead like other symbolic Interactionists fail to elaborate the origin of meanings.