In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section G.H. Mead

  • Introduction
  • Data Sources
  • Mead’s Works
  • Major Book-Length Studies and Collections
  • Standard Translations
  • The Mead-Blumer Controversy
  • Politics
  • Social Psychology
  • Pragmatic Sociology and Neo-Pragmatism

Sociology G.H. Mead
Filipe Carreira da Silva
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 September 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0141


George Herbert Mead was born on 27 February 1863, in South Hadley, Massachusetts, the son of a clergyman, Hiram Mead. In 1869, the family moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where his father took a chair at the Theological Seminary of Oberlin College. Between 1880 and 1883, Mead studied in Oberlin College where he met two students from Hawaii, Henry and Helen Castle. In 1887, after brief work experience as a railway surveyor and a private tutor, Mead followed Henry Castle into Harvard University to study philosophy. His stay at Harvard, however, did not last. In the autumn of 1888, Mead travelled to Germany, where he first studied at the University of Leipzig and subsequently at prestigious Humboldt University, Berlin, where he studied under Wilhelm Dilthey, his prospective PhD supervisor. Mead, however, never completed his PhD project. In the summer of 1891, John Dewey offered him a post as instructor in psychology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 1891, Mead married Henry’s sister Helen. A year later, their only child, Henry Castle Albert Mead, was born. In 1894, Mead followed Dewey to the Department of Philosophy of the University of Chicago, where he would remain until his death in 1931. One of the most influential American thinkers of the 20th century, Mead is studied for his contributions to social psychology, philosophical pragmatism, and social theory, in particular to symbolic interactionism and pragmatic sociology.

General Overviews

This section includes the key introductory texts to Mead’s life and work. It comprehends both specialized collected volumes and introductions oriented to a more general public. In Early Introductions to Mead, the late 1960s intellectual histories Rucker 1969 and Thayer 1968 exerted a much more pronounced influence than the collected volumes Corti 1973 and Aboulafia 1991, cited under Collected Volumes. Textbooks encompasses more recent and accessible works, such as Baldwin 1986, De Waal 2002, and Silva 2007, mainly oriented to an undergraduate audience. Taken together, and despite their different natures and goals, these works are a crucial entry point to Mead’s thought.

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