George Herbert Mead’s Symbolic Interactionism

George Herbert Mead claimed that an individual could become an object to themselves. Mead developed the concept of self with the idea in mind of ‘Me and I’ (Segre, 2014). The author argues that a person turns into an object of themselves if one conforms to society’s pressure. Mead articulated that “self” results from societal practices based on social act, roles, gestures and interactions with other individuals (Segre, 2014). It is in these interactions where one has to adapt to the societal changes, thus becoming an object of oneself trying to follow the expectations of the society.

Becoming an object of oneself begins in the initial stages of development as children start witnessing and reflecting on social behavior and language, such as symbols, gestures, acts, and roles, from the adults. Social symbols refer to the clue provided to help understand experiences which are conveyed to give a recognizable meaning shared by societies. For example, communities have different symbols which they are associated with such as a national flag which is a symbol of national unity. Gestures refer to the concept of sharing actions online and in the public. Communicating with a gesture involves waving and showing a thumbs up which might be voluntary or involuntary (Schneider, 2006).

For example, communicating to people through gestures when they are far or giving a reminder of something. Social act refers to the basic units of other people’s behavior and helps in defining people’s roles in the community. Social roles involve the patterns of characters from people occupying particular social positions by setting duties and expectations which must be fulfilled by an individual (Schneider, 2006). For example, we see people behaving in a certain way especially those in big positions and wish to behave like them. Therefore, the social concepts help to support the aspects which are significant for the relationship between people’s behavior and the society.

In conclusion, Mead demonstrates the collective roles that individuals play in society as it entails a person’s behavior and beliefs. The symbols, social act, roles, and gestures signify major changes that occur in a person’s life as they try to conform to society’s expectations and adapt to the changing world. The transformation from one stage to another is essential in social life because it stimulates socialization and interactions, thus promoting formidable relations between people.


Schneider, M. A. (2006). The Theory Primer: A sociological guide. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Segre, S. (2014). Contemporary sociological thinkers and theories. Taylor and Francis.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "George Herbert Mead's Symbolic Interactionism." September 21, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "George Herbert Mead's Symbolic Interactionism." September 21, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "George Herbert Mead's Symbolic Interactionism." September 21, 2023.