Sociological Methods for Determining the Meaning of “I”

George Herbert Mead was an American sociologist, whose work provided one of the most important sociological methods to the meaning of self. Mead had a curiosity for human awareness, it was the private and personal features of consciousness that led him to learn about the biological nature of an organism as well as the social nature of self. Having all this knowledge is what equipped him with the funds for the development of mind and self-consciousness.

He felt that the mind was the individual bond of the social process and bestowed both the self and the mind in terms of a social process. Mead understood that being in a community comes before one’s awareness. A person must first participate in different social places within a society and only then can he or she use that same experience to understand the viewpoint of others and thus become self-conscious. According to Mead, the “self” has two different sides or stages. The “me” is the sociable part of the individual. The “me” also represents any learned behaviors, attitudes, and expectations of others. This can sometimes be referred to as the generalized other. Which refers to an individual’s acknowledgment that other people of their society hold certain values and expectations about behavior.

The sense of self is defined as a collection of beliefs that we hold, while self-socialization is defined as a developmental process that allows you to reflect upon yourself. Therefore, I can understand why so many teenage girls have the tendency to have low self-esteem and an even more negative evaluation of their physical appearance. According to Mead, we do not become this way overnight, it is a learned process that is learned from a very young age.

Mead thought that the sense of self is established through social communication and contact. With the most serious social interaction transpiring within the family, which is the foundation of socialization. I can see this happening within my own family because my children and grandchildren are around family the most. The peer group will be next because as children get older they start hanging around peers their own age and with the same social characteristics as them. They begin acting, speaking, and doing as their peers are doing. The next group will be the school. The school uses organized activities to teach certain skills which can and will transmit cultural values. Unplanned socialization can come from peer groups and teachers at school, some can be positive, and some can may be negative. Nevertheless, they both can influence individuals one way or another.

Mead developed three stages of socialization calling them, preparatory, play, and game. A baby cannot tell the difference between self and others. It is during this stage that the “I” is more powerful, while the “me” is being established in the background. In this same stage, children learn to mimic behaviors of parents, siblings and or other family member or people that are often around. This is the exploratory stage where children are learning to associate words as well as understanding cause and effect. For example, my youngest grandson is seven months old, he cries for attention or for someone to pick him up. You can change his diaper, feed him, and make sure all his needs have been taken care of and the moment you sat him down he begins to cry, however, when you pick him up again he will stop the crying.

Play stage roughly begins between the ages two – six years. The child starts to use language and is beginning to understand that words like cat and dog have a joint cultural meaning. Peer culture is a very important source of identity for children. Children learn social skills, values, attitudes and concepts of self-interacting with their peers. The child also begins to take on new roles and plays with different characters by moving from imitation to acting out imaginary roles. For instance, the child is playing with a friend and says “I will be the mommy and you be the daddy. This is a key stage because the child is now learning how to take the role of others, at the same time the child is learning to imagine how others behave or feel. When a child acquires this level, the “me” begins to grow stronger. Why? Because the child is now concerned about the decision of others. This is the stage that my soon to be grand-daughter is at. When she comes to visit along with her brother and cousins she is playing the “Mommy” or the “Mimi” role by sending her brother and cousin to time-out. Basically, she is mimicking what she has seen her Mom and I do with her and her brother.

The last stage is the game stage which begins approximately about six years and older. This is the stage that involves gaining the ability to understand the connections between different roles. Mead used sports to demonstrate this stage. The child plays one role at a time but knows and understands the roles of other players or positions.

When my middle son was about, six, he wanted to play baseball. So, I signed him up to play, and when it was his time to bat he hit a home run and bringing in several of his teammates home as well. When it came time for him to bat the next time, he hit what he thought was a home run, however, he had to wait on the runners in front of him to run. He hit the ball and ran past his teammates who were on second and third base and continued home, only to be called out.

He did not fully understand if they didn’t run he couldn’t run either. Although he had the concept of the game down he didn’t know or understand the rules of the game. And as we all know every game have their own set of rules. From that day forward, any sport our children wanted to play we made sure that they knew how to play more than one position on their team as well as to have a clear understanding of the rules and regulation.

Mead made it clear that he thought the “me” was a part of the social self and the “I” was a response to “me” as well as the individual’s impulses when we give attitude it is the “I”. He thought that the presence in a community should come before individual awareness. One must first participate in different social position within society before one can use that experience to take the perspective of others before becoming uncomfortable with their situation or surroundings.

We as humans learn what is expected of us in society by communication with others in the world. Families must teach their children what is expected of them in society. Socialization is very different and it is based on class, gender, and race. Both men and women can learn concepts of self in sports Boys who are wanting to play basketball in the NBA can learn a few things about themselves, by watching some of the best players in the NBA.

For example, Koby Bryant offseason workout was called the 666 programs. His workout consisted of two hours of lifting weights, two hours of running and two hours on the basketball court. He would do this work out six months a year, for a total of six hours a day and six times a week. Our youngest son loves basketball but doesn’t love it enough to put in the work. We often tell him that if he wants to play with best he must prepare to be the best, both physically and mentally. The best players don’t become the best by playing video games or watching tv.

Growing up I would hear the idiom saying of Me, Myself, and I. And I automatically thought it was referring to “self” as in giving a sarcastic remark or answer to someone’s question. I even thought that it could possibly mean that the person was lonely, he or she didn’t have any friends or a significant other, or they could have simply been lonely by choice. I would even use the saying myself in purposely give a smart remark. Never thinking that it could have a significant meaning to the words.

There is another way of looking at the words “Me” Myself” and “I” for example, the Me is the physical aspect of a person and the Myself is the soulful as part of that same person. But the “I” of that very same person is the spiritual aspect of a person. And all three combined is the Trinity and essence of one entity, the divine human spirit.

Just like the spiritual trinity; the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost/Spirit, the trinity of “me”, “Myself”, and “I” are all the same. They cannot be with the other. The physical “Me” means the physical body of a person and the meaning of “Myself” goes a little deeper. The soulful aspects of a person mean that the person has emotions that are strong, the emotion that moves them, something that gives a person inner peace. And the spiritual aspect of a person is the religious belief of a person.

There is also a song called Me, Myself and I” by Billie Holiday that my Mom used to listen to it when I was a child, it is a classic and one of Billie’s greatest song. The phrase and some of the lyrics have stayed with me through the years. The song is referring to all three (Me, Myself, and I) who is in love with someone. She was saying that all three was in love with someone. It cannot be just one of them, it must be ae all three, you can’t have one without the other.

I am now beginning to understand that the initial socialization occurs when a child begins to understand or realize what attitudes, values, and action are. And their action is appropriate to individuals as members of a culture. The second socialization begins after the process of learning the correct behavior as members of a smaller group which is within a larger group.

As parents, we try to inspire our children’s behavior and personality, but the truth of the matter is that our children’s friends have more of an influence on them then we do, Mead calls this Group socialization. I have given birth to five children, and two of them have let their peers have a bigger influence on them more than we have as parents. Whatever their friends said or did was the way they wanted to follow. As parents we can often see things from a different perspective than our children, they forget that we have been in their shoes. Organizational is another socialization where employees learn the skills necessary to assume his or her responsibility of that certain organization.

Children are also capable of developing new skills by being able to communicate through hand gestures and symbols. We parents teach their babies and toddlers to wave bye-bye or to give a high five, those are considered gestures. I had a home daycare for years and I would teach the babies and toddlers in my care basic sign language. Just to name a few; eat, drink, more, please, thank you, wait, done/finish and help. And of course, the most common ones of the head shaking of yes and no.

I am currently working at a local school with special needs children and I am doing the same thing with the students who are non-verbal. We are also using a communication board with pictures, this helps them to know what to expect throughout the day. We teach them to point or tap pictures they want to let us know what they want. For example, if one of them wanted to have computer time, they would find the picture of the computer and add it to the I want. Sometimes they get a little frustrated, but we keep encouraging them to try again.

My personal views on (me, myself, and I) are not the same after reading Mead’s theories. With this information on self, we have a chance and a choice to define our own distinctive character. That is if a person truly wants to become the best self they can be. We can gather information about our own self from others by listening to what others must see about our personalities. “If someone calls me or say that I am an arrogant person.” If this is said only one time, I may overlook it, but if for some reason this is said repeatedly by different peoples I should probably listen and take a closer look at myself. I can choose to make changes, or I can choose to stay the same. We should all be willing to become better people. 

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Sociological methods for determining the meaning of "I". (2021, Oct 13). Retrieved October 26, 2021 , from
https://studydriver.com/sociological-methods-for-determining-the-meaning-of-i/

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