1. Compare and contrast Du Bois's theory as to the oppression of African Americans with Gilman's theory as to the oppression of women. What similarities do you see in their arguments? What are the differences in these two theories of oppression?
Gilman followed the Marxist’ theory and described economic and political factors of gender inequality. She pointed out that the traditional family role distribution make women dependent. Differential socialization sustains inequality – when girls are taught differently from the early age capabilities of both girls and boys are the same. The scientist also stated that core women’s abilities (to love and take care) are underappreciated. Actually, she believed that women are superior to men. The negative moment of her study is that she did take into account only white women. Gilman pointed out mainly on external factors as well on the inner reasons for women not feeling free. For Gilman, it would be true that the women with most children would have became most money. She proves that the traditional division is not biological issue. On the contrary, Du Bois chose race issues for his studies. As Gilman, he agreed that the inequality existed but he did criticize black parents for lack of education and the church for passiveness. Similar to Gilman, Du Bois uses parallels to Marx. He pointed that the better classes should lead the masses, which was not mentioned in Gilman’s theory. Basically, Du Bois was the supporter of elitism. As for the theoretical orientation, both scientist supported collective orientation. Nevertheless, Gilman supported rational and Du Bois nonrational. To contrast with Gilman, Du Bois pointed out at the spirituality, which can unite people. Race and class for Du Bois are not only scientific categories. Besides, author states that African Americans have double consciousness and whites have no racial consciousness. Du Bois confirms that whites feel superior but they do not completely understand why.
2. What role does language play in the development of self-consciousness?
According to Mead, the social leads to the development of mental abilities and states. And language is one of such mental abilities because functions of speaking and thinking are regulated by human brains. Mead had somehow utopian views and therefore he pays lots attention to language, which is the essence of meaning. People orient their behavior and name object through language. In case language consists of significant symbols the coordination is possible. Language mediates self and social experiences, so he to great extent, forms the self-consciousness. According to the scientist, there is actually no mind or thought without language because people tend to shape and to structure everything they deal with. Therefore, they seek for significant symbols for that. And language is their tool.
3. Given the emphasis on the self, language, thinking and meaning, what factors might be missing from Mead's view of social interaction?
Mead paid almost no attention to interaction order. Besides, Goffman paid attention to the scene and not only to the interaction. Goffman supported Mead in most of the points of his theory he was more attentive to some elements Mead did not take into account. Besides, regarding the meaning of self, language, thinking and meaning Mead might miss the environment and context in which language and thinking take place. Modern scientists pay more attention to such parameters because their importance was proved during continuous and numerous investigations and empirical findings. Furthermore, Mead did not pay much attention to emotion. His researches and articles were focused on the work of the human mind. On the contrary, the theory of Goffman points out at acting and its performance “on stage”, so to say at the immediate reaction, emotional part of human being. Besides, Goffman paid more attention to the hidden self than Mead did. For Goffman hidden self is always focused on the better performance.
Edles, L. D, & Appelrouth, S. (2007). Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era. Sage