On Self and Social Organization

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 1998 - Psychology - 259 pages
It is almost impossible now to imagine the prestigious position Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929) held within the founding generation of American sociologists. His seminal work on human communication, social organization, and public opinion stimulated and guided much of early American sociological thought.

Cooley's work relating self and community is now more relevant than ever to the problems of understanding and directing modern democratic societies. Cooley applied the ideas of pragmatism to developing a systematic way of approaching social action, social change, and social order; he used these interrelated theories to analyze the social problems and cultural crises of the age. According to Cooley, social change is a fragile, interactive process that, due to constantly arising problems of action, requires ongoing scrutiny by the public. This collection of Cooley's best work is an important contribution not only to the history of ideas—especially to the origin of modern sociological theory— but also to the current public debate on civil society, community, and democracy.

 

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Contents

Transportation and Organized SocietyGeneral
45
The Process of Social Change
63
THE FOUNDATIONS OF COOLEYS
79
Sympathy or Understanding as an Aspect of Society
93
The Significance of Communication
100
The Roots of Social Knowledge
110
Society and the Individual
131
Social and Individual Aspects of Mind
141
The Theory of Public Opinion
185
Democracy and Distinction
194
Open Classes
207
Social Change and the Pragmatic Method
213
The Tentative Method
215
Intelligence in Social Function
226
Social Science
234
The Tentative Character of Progress
241

Particularism versus the Organic View
147
THE SELF SOCIAL ORDER AND SOCIAL CHANGE The LookingGlass Self
153
The Social Selfthe Meaning of I
155
Social Order and Democracy
177
Primary Groups
179
A Primary Culture for Democracy
244
Index of Names
253
Subject Index
255
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About the author (1998)

Charles H. Cooley, an American sociologist, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he spent most of his life. He did little empirical research, but his writings on the individual and the group, particularly on how the sense of self develops through social interaction (the "looking-glass self," he called it), had an enormous influence on all subsequent social psychology. Cooley was an early (1897) critic of Sir Francis Galton's notions about the biological inheritance of genius. His work, which is considered interactionist in its perspective, was influenced by the work of William James. Cooley contended that people gain an impression of themselves only by participating in society. Their perceptions of others' reactions to the "self" presented in such interactions guide individuals in developing and modifying their personalities.

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