Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mead and Simmel

Mead and Simmel move us closer to understanding the role of the individual and self in social life. While Mead tells us that the individual makes meaning of "self' through social interaction, Simmel suggests that the meaning and experience of life is created and understood largely through social interaction, but also that certain social constructions and/or cultural symbols can take an objectified form which can become impositions.

Simmel's view is quite powerful because he allows us to see that, as humans, we have a direct role in creating social life, structures, and giving those meaning, and at the same time, he suggests that as urbanization/industrial exchange/and other characterisitics of modernity intensify that we, as co-constructors, can lose power, become distant from, and lose an authentic understanding of the symbols and structures that were once created purposefully by individuals or small cutlural groups. What is one example of how a cultural symbol/structure that once embodied deep meaning for you or a small group of your friends/family, has lost or become far removed from you/your group? Using Simmel's framework for explaining why symbols/ideas lose meaning, what are the reasons behind this lost meaning?

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