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G.H. Mead: A Critical Introduction

Filipe Carreira da Silva

ISBN: 978-0-745-65783-7 April 2013 Polity 168 Pages


G. H. Mead is rightly considered to be one of sociology's founding fathers, yet to date there have been surprisingly few books devoted to his life and work. This book fills the gap by introducing Mead's ideas to a younger generation of social scientists.

Beginning with a biographical account of the main events in Mead's career, Filipe Carreira da Silva provides a thorough examination of Mead's social theory of the self, the reception of his ideas into sociology, and the relevance of his work to the contemporary social sciences.

He focuses in detail on the core ideas associated with Mead's work, including gesture and the significant symbol, the I-me distinction and the 'generalized other', as well as exploring less well-known aspects of his writing.

This comprehensive introduction to Mead's thinking will appeal to students across the social sciences, providing a refreshing perspective on the social nature of the individual self.

Acknowledgements vi

1 Introduction and General Overview 1

2 Life and Work: 1863–1931 17

3 Mead's Social Psychology: Basic Concepts 28

4 The Social Self 42

5 Society, Mind and Self 56

6 Mead and Symbolic Interactionism 70

7 Mead and Twentieth-Century Sociology 91

8 Why Read Mead Today? 116

Notes 126

Bibliography 141

Index 152

"A comprehensive critical guide [that] is a definite must-read for anyone with an interest in Mead."
Sociological Research Online

"This book is a real gem. It does proper justice to the sophistication and originality of G. H. Mead’s intellectual project, whilst remaining remarkably lucid and accessible. Filipe Carreira da Silva’s approach brings Mead alive and provides a thorough understanding of his audience, his motivations for writing, his intellectual allies and foes and, above all, what he was trying to achieve. Carreira da Silva also explains the relevance of Mead’s writings for current debates in social and political philosophy, and he does so with analytical agility and imagination. I highly recommend this book."
Patrick Baert, University of Cambridge

"Drawing on previously obscure archives and impeccable scholarship, Filipe Carreira da Silva has broken extremely important new ground on one of the most important yet under-appreciated social thinkers of the twentieth century."
Donald Levine, University of Chicago

  • Introductory book devoted to the life and work of G.H.Mead
  • Part of the Key Contemporary Thinkers series
  • Comprehensive account of Mead’s work, including the less well known aspects of his work
  • Useful on a range of advanced undergraduate and graduate courses