Symbolic Interactionism and Person Essay

Submitted By coldblooded626
Words: 1345
Pages: 6

2. Mead uses the terms “I, me, and generalized other” to explain how one’s identity is shaped. Explain. George Mead was an important sociologist who developed what is now known as symbolic interactionism, and a large part of this term focuses on human interactions between small and large groups and how that shapes a persons identity. Mead broke this down into three general components applicable to each individual person known as “I, me, and the generalized other.” According to his research each component played a role in shaping a person’s identity Starting with the “I,” Mead is referring to a person individualism that can include their imagination, creativity, and overall free-thinking ways. Moving onto the “Me,” Mead describes this component as how others react to whatever particular people or groups that they are interacting with. He claims that a person’s “Me” component will conform to the group that they are with and reflect the ideas that are the most dominant with that person(s). I see this a lot working with high school students, and how they seem to develop different personalities depending on what friend they are with or if they are hanging out with the “popular” kids at school that day so it’s very evident in today’s society. Lastly, he describes “the Generalized Other” to represent how groups and other things have a strong effect on a persons identity. I’ll use the example of Church, and how many people identify with a particular religion, which affects the choices they make, how they act and what they believe in. What I think Mead was trying to get across is that there are so many different factors that can come into play when shaping a person’s identity. He believes that a person themselves and the people and groups that they interact with will have a profound impact and shape that individuals identity.

3. Both Goffman and Cooley seem to suggest that persons’ identities are shaped by how they want others to see them. Explain what they mean, and then comment on the extent to which you agree/disagree with them. Both Goffman and Cooley seem to suggest that persons’ identities are shaped by how they want others to see them and although they both coined different terms to describe this, they are both supportive of very similar ideas. Goffman coined the phrase “dramaturgy,” and believed that how a person acts is dependent upon the impression that they want to make to the particular person(s) that they are with or associating with. The way we act can change depending on what social situation or group we find ourselves with. Similarly to Goffman, Cooley had corresponding beliefs and coined the phrase “looking glass self,” to get his point across. He believed that we look to others to determine what we “look like.” More specifically a person will take cues from whomever they are interacting with and adapt to how they think that person wants them to be. Both sociologists firmly believed that a person’s identity is shaped on how they want someone else to see them. I think that I agree with both Goffman and Cooley to a certain extent. For example, I was conversing with a co-worker about everyday things and the subject of his family, more specifically his brother came up. Now his family is from a very small town in Upstate New York where there’s one stop light and everybody knows your business just to give some background. After high school and college, his brother moved away and got this unbelievable job making $500,000 a year, and lives quite comfortably in a New York City suburb. Recently, he was home for the holidays and was back to his roots drinking Natural Ice beer and hanging out in the woods. He had a conversation with his brother about how it is two different worlds that he lives in, and when he is out with co-workers or anything work related he wouldn’t be caught dead with anything but high end top shelf liquor in his hand because he had a certain role to play and status to maintain. As soon as he told me