Mead and Blumer propose the important role of the generalized other but this concept has been largely overlooked in later symbolic interactionist theories and research. This has implications for the social psychology of difference and inequality, especially since the generalized other can be a powerful tool as W. E. B. DuBois' concept of "dual consciousness" points out. Blumer' s "sense of group position" has been used to focus on difference, but this term usually requires a structural leap. To re-emphasized the generalized other in symbolic interactionist theory, we make five points: (1) the social construction of identity involves multiple-selves based on multiple-generalized others; (2) this involves both internalization or externalization of views; (3) generalized others may be positive (friendlies) or negative (hostile acquaintances or enemies), and generalized others are most often ranked in terms of importance to the self; (4) generalized others are framed by one's self in that some acquaintances are emphasized and others ignored; and (5) difference and sense of group position springs from these rankings.

Document Type

White Paper

Publication Date


Included in

Sociology Commons