The self develops out of a conversation, by using symbols.
Mead was responsible for developing the concept of symbolic interaction, the most important factor in human social relationships. Symbolic interaction consists of interpretation, that is, comprehension of the meaning of other person's actions. The foundation of cooperation is social relations and it relies on the communication process in which meanings are conveyed. Non-symbolic interactions are those in which partners respond to each other's actions directly.
Mead emphasized that the interactions and even cooperation, as seen in animals is purely biological. As against this, humans can interpret and mutually define their actions, rather than just reacting to them.
In Mead's opinion, human thought, experience and conduct are essentially social. Human beings interact with each other in terms of symbols; the most important of which are contained in language. Without symbols, humans will not interact and therefore no human society. Mead was of the opinion that animals respond through gestures, but their interactions are unconscious and non-rational.
Only human beings are capable of abstract thinking. The human mind can have inner conversation and adopt an attitude towards oneself. Human cognition has a symbolic nature. Animals, according to Mead, do not possess this ability, for they do not possess self.
AccoAccording to Mead, self distinguishes humans from the world of nature. He distinguished two aspects of self: subjective I and objective Me. I is responsible for interpretative reactions towards social stimuli. This aspect is responsible for creativity, spontaneity, and unpredictability at times. I is the basis of self-image. The me aspect is the social self, developed in accordance with other people's views and expectations. This social fact is what separates human beings from animals.
Views of H.Blumer - The Interacting Self
Blumer opined that human interaction is influenced by symbols, interpretation, or addition of significance to other humans' actions. He maintained that symbolic interaction is typically human field of operation. He said that the mental and cognitive aspect of constructing meanings excludes both interaction between human and nonhuman animals and interaction between nonhuman animals themselves.
According to Blumer, a human being can be an object of his own action. He can act toward himself and guide himself toward others on the basis of the object he is to himself. This process involves a selection of the objects considered relevant for the individual and an appropriate handling of the meanings of those objects. As against Mead, Blumer stresses on the I side of the self. This I is built socially, as it is a result