BothErving Goffman and George Mead examine the concept of the “self”and attempt to describe the nature of this notion. Even though theyboth suggest that society has a role to play in the determination andshaping of self, they take different stances with regard to how theself manifests.
ErvingGoffman observes that individuals are only prompted to seekinformation regarding their nature when in the presence of others [CITATION Gof59 p 17
y l 1033 ].The reason for this is that people who will be found around a certainindividual will typically share attitudes and beliefs, and will beinterested in the individual’s conception of self, socio-economicstatus, trustworthiness, among other characteristics. Therefore, inorder to ascertain the real aspects of an individual, it is necessaryto comprehend the indirectavowals and seemingly spontaneous expressions. Therefore, accordingto Goffman, the “self” is defined entirely by interactions withothers.
GeorgeMead on the other hand probes deeper into the concept of “self”whereby he notes that it is acquired progressively via socialexperiences [CITATION Mea72 p 135
y l 1033 ].Thisis similar to Goffman’s assertions whereby he found that socialinteractions affect the “self” inferential process [CITATION Gof59 p 18
y l 1033 ].The diversion of thought between Goffman and Mead can be found whenthe latter suggests that the individual can only experience himselfindirectly based on the perception of people in a similar socialgroup. Mead further specifies the “I” and the “Me” selves.The former entails obtaining others’ attitudes following which oneadjusts their self or rejects it altogether, which means that one canopt to conform the self to societal ideals or to possess uniqueself-assertion. The “Me” self involves self-consciousness whichan individual acquires enabling them to react to others’ attitudes.
Inconclusion, both Goffman and Mead acknowledge the influential role ofsociety self-development. However, Mead explores the ‘self’concept further where he notes that one’s self-consciousness can beused as motivation to either adjust to others’ attitudes or rejectsuch attitudes.
Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Overlook Press, 1959.
Mead, George H. "The Self and The Organism." Mead, George H. Mind, Self, and Society: From the Standpoint of A Social Behaviorist. Ed. Charles W Morris. Eighteenth . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1972. 135.