George Herbert Mead and Erik H. Erikson: Theories of Socialization.

Essay by shakedown_College, UndergraduateA+, October 2005

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George Herbert Mead was a ground-breaking sociologist that coined the phrase "self" and the theory behind it in the early 1900's. The self can simply be defined as, "the part of an individual's personality composed of self-awareness and self-image." Mead's primary approach to social behaviorism centered around the idea that one's self is purely a product of social interaction with others. Sociologists today find Mead's work important as the self is needed for survival of society and culture. Comparatively, Mead shared some intellectual sociological similarities with Erik H. Erikson. Particularly with Erikson's broader view of socialization: his eight stages of development.

Mead understood the self to thrive as long as four major components that revolved around social cooperation fell into place. The first belief he transmitted was that the self was not present in a person at birth. It must be developed over time through social reciprocity with other individuals.

Mead then believed that social experience is the product symbol exchanges. In other words, human beings can find meaning not only through language and words but also within the use of actions and such other symbolic representations. His next conceptualization assumed that in order to fully understand one's intentions we must take the role of the other. What Mead plainly meant by this was that anticipation of how another human being will react can often be attained when we imagine ourselves in another person's shoes. His final inference about the self is by taking on the role of another we then become self-aware. This idea spilt the concept of self into two parts, the I and the me. The I part is used to describe the self in action, the subjective aspect of self. The me part outlines the self as we imagine others to see us.

Mead then...