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The Construction of Mind, Self, and Society

The Construction of Mind, Self, and Society

(p.114) Chapter Five The Construction of Mind, Self, and Society
Becoming Mead
Daniel R. Huebner
University of Chicago Press

Chapter 5 examines the influential but contentious posthumous volumes attributed to George Herbert Mead, especially Mind, Self, and Society, and by detailing the interpretive process through which these books were constructed it approaches these volumes from a radically different direction than has been previously attempted. From the early enthusiasm to preserve a legacy to Mead after his death, a variety of proposals and sets of documents emerged. The problems of these documents led Mead’s family and former students to solicit additional student notes, which were summarily evaluated and often rewritten. The subsequent discovery of stenographic notes fundamentally shifted the content of the volumes, but not their overall topical structure. Finally, concerns about book sales during the Great Depression led to consequential decisions on the length, content, and order of the volumes. The analysis demonstrates how an adequate understanding of Mind, Self, and Society, and the other volumes, requires tracing the social process of their construction over a course of time, including the changing desires and interpretations of social actors, the discovery and manipulation of available documents, and perceptions of practical constraints in time and money. No individual, document, or event explains the final appearance of the volume apart from this consequential social process.

Keywords:   George Herbert Mead, Mind, Self, and Society, posthumous publication, intellectual legacy, lecture notes, stenography, Charles Morris, social process, scholarly publishing

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