1. In Mind, Self and Society, George H. Mead describes how the mind and self of individuals come from the social process. Mead analyzes individual’s experiences from the “standpoint of communication as essential to the social order.” According to Mead the “mind” stems from the social process of communication and cannot be understood without that process. Within the communicational process there are two phases: the “conversation of gestures” and, language; “conversation of significant gestures.” Both of these phases presume that there is a social context within which two or more individuals are interacting with one another.
Mead introduces his idea of the “conversation of gestures” with the famous example of the dog-fight. What Mead is trying to display when using this example is that the act of each dog becomes the stimulus to the other dog for his response. These gestures that take place between the two dogs are not however significant. There is a change in one dog’s position due to the direction of the approach of the other dog.
Language, in Mead’s view, is considered to be communication through significant symbols. Mead explains that a significant symbol is a gesture that calls out in the individual making the gesture the same response that is called out in others to whom the gesture is directed (Mind, Self, and Society 47). According to Mead, animals can communicate with one another through gestures, but they are not aware that the behaviors they are making hold any meaning for other animals. A gesture, for animals, is something in which they do not have control over and are intuitive manifestations. In order for an individual to be in control, this implies the awareness of consequences of one’s own gestures for the response of others. Since animals do not poses such awareness and control they are not engaging in symbolic interaction when communicating through gestures, because something is only symbolic when it’s under one’s control.