Friday, November 16, 2012

Mead: “Life is like a boat.”


    Like a boat, each individual takes on a journey in search of value and purpose. In life, one challenges through a series of trials and develops a certain interest. Mead introduces the interest of individual. The interest is strictly evaluated as a process of finding “the natural identity of interests” (Alexander 1987:202). The natural identity of interests is a role, which is exists within the society. Parsons gives an example of the role on “a teacher.” “That roles exist, for example, that “teacher” is a real role in the social system with definite obligations attached to it” (Alexander 1987:42). It is a life’s task to find one’s own position of role. If a system can be referred as a society, a role runs an operation of the system. Eventually, the smoothness of operation reaches equilibrium: a harmony of the social order. Therefore, a role carries such significance regards to the society. Depends on a quality of the role, it can be a crucial factor to influence the society positively or negatively. Thus, the role can be considered as a value, which an individual desires to identify.
     The natural identity, thus, eclipses a meaning of the purpose. The purpose is a desire to fulfill a means. It aims to solidify into realization. It is a certain path of the goal the individual seeks to accomplish throughout a course of life. “As a technological philosophy Pragmatism reflected and perfected the thrusts of this general intellectual movement. In presuppositional terms, it intended toward the normative and individualistic. Actors are in search of value; they want to infuse “purpose” into their situations. They pursue value and purpose in the course of their experience” (Alexander 1987:203).
     A purpose serves as a compass and guides an individual to take a certain action. However, the quality of “purpose” is determined by what interest draws an individual. And such interest develops through internalization. In internalization, according to Parsons, “objects, by the significance and cathexes attached to them, become organized into the actor’s system of orientation” (Alexander 1987:38). When an Individual experiences, the interpretation is carried within the individual’s cognition and perception.   




Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1987. Twenty Lectures: Sociological Theory Since World WarII. NY: Columbia University Press.

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