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Preparatory Stage

D. Angus Vail

Subject Sociology » Social Psychology

Key-Topics self

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


While George Herbert Mead never explicitly mentions this stage of development, many contend that he implies it in several of his seminal writings on the social, not biological, root of the self. According to Mead, the self arises from a process of interaction among one's consociates. As an individual develops a facility for language, he or she begins to understand the symbolic meanings of social objects and eventually develops the capacity to make him/herself into a social object. In Mead's model, children begin to show signs of developing a self when they learn how to play at the roles of important people in their lives. At this play stage they show elementary understanding of role-taking, but their understanding of complex rules and subtle differences of individual positions in social settings is limited. As they develop more sophisticated understandings of social settings, they enter a game stage where they learn to take account not only of individual roles, but also of the abstract rules that make those divergent roles make sense in a given situation. Mead calls this set of rules the generalized other . The preparatory stage precedes these phases in the social genesis of the self, representing a stage of mimicry where a child, in essence, is preparing him/herself for the more complex, subtle, and sophisticated social tasks that are starting to become a part of his or ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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