Sociology Index

I

The term "I" was introduced by George Herbert Mead to refer to the aspect of identity, or self, that reacts in social interaction to the expectations of others. In social interaction individuals are aware of the expectations of others, but they do not necessarily conform to these expectations in their reactions. Recognizing that the self can not appear in consciousness as an "I," that it is always an object, i.e., a "me," I wish to suggest an answer to the question, What is involved in the self being an object? The first answer may be that an object involves a subject. Stated in other words, that a "me" is inconceivable without an "I." This spontaneous, never entirely predictable, element of individual personality makes each individual a unique social actor. - George Herbert Mead. 

And to this reply must be made that such an "I" is a presupposition, but never a presentation of conscious experience, for the moment it is presented it has passed into the objective case, presuming, if you like, an "I" that observes, but an "I" that can disclose himself only by ceasing to be the subject for whom the object "me" exists.

It is not the Hegelism of a self that becomes another to himself in which I am interested, but the nature of the self as revealed by introspection and subject to our factual analysis.

We can compare Mead's "I" and "me", respectively, with Sartre's "choice" and "the situation". But Mead himself matched up the "me" with Sigmund Freud's "censor", and the "I" with his "ego"; and this is psychologically apt. - Victorino Tejera, Semiotics from Pierce to Barthes (2001).

The "I" is the response of the individual to the attitude of the community'.[8] The "I" acts creatively, though within the context of the me. Mead notes that "It is only after we have acted that we know what we have done...what we have said."

The differences in our memory presentations of the "I" and the "me" are those of the memory images of the initiated social conduct and those of the sensory responses thereto.

The terms 'I' and the 'me' refer to the psychology of the individual, where in Mead's understanding, the "me" is the socialized aspect of the person, and the "I" is the active aspect of the person.