George Herbert Mead has long been known for his social theory of meaning and the ‘self’ - an approach which becomes all the more relevant in light of the ways we develop and represent ourselves online. But recent scholarship has shown that Mead’s pragmatic philosophy can help us understand a much wider range of contemporary issues including how humans and natural environments mutually influence one another, how deliberative democracy can and should work, how thinking is dependent upon the body and on others, and how social changes in the present affect our understandings of the past. Historical scholarship has also changed what we know of Mead’s life, including new emphasis on his social reform efforts, his engagement with colonization and war, and critical reinterpretation of the works published after his death. This book provides an approachable introduction to Mead’s contemporary relevance in the social sciences, showing how a pragmatic view of social action serves as the core of Mead’s theory, offering striking insights into human agency, symbolism, politics, social change, temporality, and materiality. As such, it will appeal to scholars of sociology and the social sciences more broadly, with interests in social theory and the enduring importance of the sociological classics.

chapter 2|25 pages

Embodied Social Action

The Self, Cognition, Agency, and Communication

chapter 3|28 pages

Social Process

Emerging Social Structure and the Practices of Democratic Politics

chapter 4|23 pages

The Natural World As Social

Time, Materiality, and Environment