Chapter 1 utilizes the critical literature on the intellectual history and social context of George Herbert Mead in order to locate peculiar aspects of Mead's own knowledge making practices. Mead was a public intellectual who spoke to large audiences much more frequently than he published, and spoke as an authority on a much broader slate of issues than general social theory. More of his written work stems from his public speaking than is immediately apparent, and this work was in dialogue with practical social problems more directly than is typically assumed. His existing publication record is evidence of intimate and meaningful social relationships among colleagues, and does not serve as a clear indication of a set of definite propositions or concepts Mead felt were his own. By examining public speeches and documents as moments in complex social dialogues, this chapter demonstrates how public participation may be related to the formation of concepts. Further, this analysis provides an entry point for the subsequent chapters by identifying a set of situations and contexts relevant to the production of knowledge.
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