World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Generalized other

Article Id: WHEBN0000857948
Reproduction Date:

Title: Generalized other  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Index of sociology articles, Socialization, 'I' and the 'me', The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Social environment
Collection: Self, Socialization
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Generalized other

The generalized other is a concept introduced by social sciences, and used especially in the field of symbolic interactionism. It is the general notion that a person has of the common expectations that others have about actions and thoughts within a particular society, and thus serves to clarify their relation to the other as a representative member of a shared social system.[1]

Any time that an actor tries to imagine what is expected of them, they are taking on the perspective of the generalized other.

Contents

  • Precursors 1
  • Role-play and games 2
  • Multiple generalized others 3
  • Psychoanalytic equivalents 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Precursors

Mead's concept of the generalised other has been linked to Adam Smith's notion of the impartial spectator[2] - itself rooted in the earlier thinking of Addison and Epitectus.[3]

Adam Smith wrote: "We Conceive ourselves as acting in the presence of a person quite candid and equitable, of one who...is meerly a man in general, an impartial Spectator who considers our conduct with the same indifference with which we regard that of other people".[4]

Role-play and games

Mead began by contrasting the experience of role-play and pretence in early childhood, in which one role simply gives way to a different one without any continuity, with that of the organised game: “in the latter”, he stated, “the child must have the attitude of all the others involved in that game”.[5] He saw the organised game as vital for the formation of a mature sense of self, which can only be achieved by learning to respond to, and take on board, the others' attitudes toward the (changing) common undertakings they are involved in: i.e. the generalized other.[6]

Mead argued that "in the game we get an organized other, a generalized other, which is found in the nature of the child itself....in the case of such a social group as a ball team, the team is the generalized other in so far as it enters - as an organized process or social activity - into the experience of any one of the individual members of it".[7]

By seeing things from an anonymous perspective, that of the other, the child may eventually be able to visualize the intentions and expectations of others, and see him/herself from the point of view of groups of others - the viewpoint of the generalized other.

The attitude of the generalized other is the attitude of the larger community. According to Mead, the generalized other is the vehicle by which we are linked to society.

Multiple generalized others

Arguably, a modern differentiated society contains as many generalized others as there are social groupings:[8] as Mead put it, “every individual member of any given human society, of course, belongs to a large number of such different functional groups”.[9] The result is that everybody will articulate aspects of the range of socio-cultural values in their own way, taking on the perspectives of a set of generalized others in a unique synthesis.[10]

With rising levels of socialisation and individuation, more and more people, and more and more aspects of the self come into play in the dialectic of self and generalized other.[11]

Psychoanalytic equivalents

As a concept, the generalised other is roughly equivalent to the idea of the Freudian superego. It has also been compared to Lacan's use of the Name of the Father, as the third party created by the presence of social convention, law, and language in all human interaction.[12] It is also similar to Bakhtin's (Superaddressee) "superaddressee" presumed to receive and understand human communication.

See also

References

  1. ^ John O'Neill, Sociology as a Skin Trade (London 1972) p. 169
  2. ^ Lars Udehn, Methodological Individualism (2001) p. 367n
  3. ^ Nicholas Phillipson, Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life (2011) p. 107
  4. ^ Quoted in Phillipson, p. 164-5
  5. ^ George H. Mead, Mind, Self, and Society (Chicago 1962) p. 159 and p. 154
  6. ^ Mead, p. 155
  7. ^ Mead, p. 160 and p. 154
  8. ^ F. C. da Silva, G. H. Mead (2007) p. 50
  9. ^ Mead, p. 322
  10. ^ da Silva, p. 50-1
  11. ^ Johannes Voelz, Transcendental Resistance (2010) p. 131
  12. ^ Vincent Crapanzano, Hermes' Dilemma and Hamlet's Desire (1992) p. 88-9

Further reading

  • 1934: Mead, G. H. (C. W. Morris ed.), Mind,Self, and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  • 1956: Natanson, Maurice, The Social Dynamics of George H. Mead, Public Affairs Press, Washington, D. C.
  • 2008: Ritzer, G.R., Sociological Theory seventh edition. McGraw-Hill Higher Companies, New York.

External links

  • Roles, the Self, and the Generalized Other
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.