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Class: Socialization and the Self, Part 2

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Author: Jessica Collett
Understanding Societies lecture notes - Socialization and the Self, Part 2

Class Notes

George Herbert Mead argued for a gradual development including progression through the play stage and the game stage. In the play stage, a child can only take one role at a time. A child may play "house" and play the role of a mother, and then perhaps switch to the role of a sister.  In the game stage, a child is able to imagine occupying all the roles at one time. Mead uses the example of a baseball game-- a child is able to simultaneously understand that if she is up to bat and hits the ball into the outfield, the outfielder will throw it to the first-baseman to attempt to get the child out. Mead also introduces the idea of the generalized other.

Self-concept (or a self-schema) is who we are and is comprised of identities, personality traits, and other attributes. Role identities are the roles that we enact (such as student, daughter, father, doctor).  Of course, not all students enact their student role identity the same way. What affects how we enact these identities?  Conventional role expectations, audience, consistency, and personal characteristics or competencies.  Beyond role identities, we also enact person identities (ex. outgoing, happy) and social identities ("domer," Christian).


Required Reading: 

"Beauty is Only Skin Deep," Ruane and Cerulo (Second Thoughts, pp. 109-119)

"Life as a Maid's Daughter: An Exploration of the Everyday Boundaries of Race, Class, and Gender," Romero (Sociology Reader, pp. 78-86)

"Code of the Streets," Anderson (Sociology Reader, pp. 99-108)

Recommended Reading

"Building Identity: Socialization," Newman (Sociology, pp. 125-155)


Keywords: play stage, game stage, generalized other, self-concept or self-schema, role identities, person identities, social identities, identity salience, identity hierarchy.


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