Chapter Four of “Sociology: 100 Theory” focuses on the process of socialization, “a lifelong process of learning, to become a member of social world, beginning at birth and continuing until death”. It also discusses the different levels of the development of one’s self. The concept of development of self that interested me the most was the one proposed by George Herbert Mead, suggesting that human self is composed of two distinctive parts which are I and Me. “I” stands for a disorganized, changeable, impulsive part of the self which never considers social consequences of own actions, while “Me” is a reflective, critical, controlling part of the self, which gives direction to one’s behavior taking into account the rules of society. The both parts interact and influence human behavior, each one performing its specific functions.
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I believe Mead’s theory to be rather interesting. However, I do not fully agree with the one. The thing is, and that is exactly why I’ve chosen to discuss this particular concept, is that it actually reminds me a lot the theory proposed by Sigmund Freud. He claimed that human psyche is composed of three parts instead of two proposed by Mead. These are Id, Ego and Superego. These three interact in a certain system. “Id” stands for uncontrollable, spontaneous, instinctive moves of one’s mind; the reasonable rational part of the psyche is the “ego”; and the judgmental and high-minded, moralizing function is performed by the “super-ego.” Interestingly, Freud claims that instead of competing with each other, the two parts, Id and Super-Ego influence Ego, which is trying to keep peace between the two and the actual reality, striving to satisfy everyone.
I prefer Freud’s theory to the one suggested in the book, since it tries to explain the never-ending inner conflict that a person is experiencing through the whole of one’s life. Except by giving a somehow systematic classification of mental disorders, it rather clearly identifies a mental conflict that human beings usual suffer from. Being confused by two opposite impulses, the instinctive and the moralizing one, individual’s inner self turns out to be tormented by society which represses its natural moves. I simply prefer Freud’s explanation better.
However, the general concept of the self being composed of certain parts is beneficial to understanding own nature. Isn’t that what we do: suppress own impulsive drives in order to conform to the norms of society, always being concerned about the reaction of other people to our actions? The process of socialization, which is the matter of the chapter, actually implies the process of learning to balance between what we want to do and what we have to do according to accepted social rules.
Have you ever felt guilty for doing something not expected from you to be done, even if not being caught with your pants down? I have, and this feeling born from somewhere within puzzled me a lot. Now, when I am closer to understanding of the conflict between the parts of own self, I can at least explain for myself the complex emotions I am going through when deciding on how it would be better to act in this or that situation. In fact, it is even easier for me to make the final decision now, since I know what kind of choice I am truly making. Human nature is extremely complex, and I believe we will never be able to analyze all the aspects of human soul and mind. However, going into deep, trying to understand properly the processes of formation human inner world is going through for a lifetime, gives us a better understanding of ourselves. We can never ignore the existence of external factors, such as society, that influence our personalities.
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