Charles Cooley

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Charles Cooley, 1902.

Charles Horton Cooley (August 17, 1864 – May 7, 1929) was an American sociologist, Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Michigan, and founding member of the American Sociological Association, known for his concept of the looking glass self, which is the concept that a person's self grows out of society's interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others.

Quotes[edit]

  • Society is an interweaving and interworking of mental selves. I imagine your mind and especially what your mind thinks about my mind and what my mind thinks about what your mind thinks about my mind. I dress my mind before you and expect that you will dress yours before mine. Whoever cannot or will not perform these feats is not properly in the game.
    • Charles Cooley 91927). Life and the Student: Roadside Notes on Human Nature, Society, and Letters. p. 200

Human Nature and the Social Order, 1902[edit]

Charles Horton Cooley (1902). Human Nature and the Social Order, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons; Revised ed. 1922; 1964

  • "SOCIETY and the Individual" is really the subject of this whole book, and not merely of Chapter One. It is my general aim to set forth, from various points of view, what the individual is, considered as a member of a social whole ; while the special purpose of this chapter is only to offer a preliminary statement of the matter, as I conceive it, afterward to be unfolded at some length and variously illustrated.
    • p. 1; Lead paragraph
  • The social self is simply any idea, or system of ideas, drawn from the communicative life, that the mind cherishes as its own.
    • p. 17
  • A separate individual is an abstraction unknown to experience, and so likewise is society when regarded as something apart from individuals.
    • p. 36
  • How is a man to find where he belongs in life? The more original he is, the less likely is he to find his place prepared for him. He must not expect to see from the beginning what mould his life will take... The power to work on faith is what distinguishes great men.
    • p. 111
  • To get away from one's working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one's self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change.
    • p. 120
  • A self-idea of this sort seems to have three principal elements: the imagination of our appearance to the other person; the imagination of his judgment of that appearance, and some sort of self-feeling, such as pride or mortification.
    • p. 152
  • Strong joy and grief depend upon the treatment this rudimentary social self receives.
    • p. p. 166
As we see our face, figure, and dress in the glass, and are interested in them because they are ours, and pleased or otherwise with them according as they do or do not answer to what we should like them to be; so in imagination we perceive in another's mind some thought of our appearance, manners, aims, deeds, character, friends, and so on, and are variously affected by it.
- Charles Cooley, 1902/22, p. 183
  • The distinctive thing in the idea for which the pronouns of the first person are names is apparently a characteristic kind of feeliing which may be called the my-feeling or sense of appropriation. Almost any sort of ideas may be associated with this feeling, and so come to be named "I" or "mine," but the feeling, and that alone it would seem, is the determining factor in the matter. As Professor James says in his admirable discussion of the self, the words "me" and "self" designate "all the things which have the power to produce in a stream of consciousness excitement of a certain peculiar sort."
    • p. 168-9
  • As we see our face, figure, and dress in the glass, and are interested in them because they are ours, and pleased or otherwise with them according as they do or do not answer to what we should like them to be; so in imagination we perceive in another's mind some thought of our appearance, manners, aims, deeds, character, friends, and so on, and are variously affected by it.
    • p. 182 (1922)
  • A self -idea of this sort seems to have three principal elements: the imagination of our appearance to the other person; the imagination of his judgment of that appearance, and some sort of self-feeling, such as pride or mortification.
    • p. 182 (1922)
  • As we see our face, figure, and dress in the glass, and are interested in them because they are ours, and pleased or otherwise with them according as they do or do not answer to what we should like them to be; so in imagination we perceive in another's mind some thought of our appearance, manners, aims, deeds, character, friends, and so on, and are variously affected by it.
    • p. 183 (1922)
  • We are ashamed to seem evasive in the presence of a straightforward man, cowardly in the presence of a brave one, gross in the eyes of a refined one, and so on. We always imagine, and in imagining share, the judgments of the other mind. A man will boast to one person of an action — say some sharp transaction in trade-^which he would be ashamed to own to another.
    • p. 184-5 (1922)
  • If failure or disgrace arrives, if one suddenly finds that the faces of men show coldness or contempt instead of the kindliness and deference that he is used to, he will perceive from the shock, the fear, the sense of being outcast and helpless, that he was living in the minds of others without knowing it, just as we daily walk the solid ground without thinking how it bears us up.
    • p. 207
  • The group self or "we" is simply an "I" which includes other persons. One identifies himself with a group and speaks of the common will, opinion, service, or the like in terms of "we" and "us." The sense of it is stimulated by co-operation within and opposition without.
    • p. 209
  • One who shows signs of mental aberration is, inevitably, perhaps, but cruelly, shut off from familiar, thoughtless intercourse, partly excommunicated; his isolation is unwittingly proclaimed to him on every countenance by curiosity, indifference, aversion, or pity, and in so far as he is human enough to need free and equal communication and feel the lack of it, he suffers pain and loss of a kind and degree which others can only faintly imagine, and for the most part ignore.
    • p. 259 (1964)

Social Organization: a Study of the Larger Mind, 1909[edit]

Charles Cooley (1909). Social Organization: a Study of the Larger Mind, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons; 1962

  • Our life is all one human whole, and if we are to have any real knowledge of it we must see it as such. If we cut it up it dies in the process: and so I conceive that the various branches of research that deal with this whole are properly distinguished by change in the point of sight rather than by any division in the thing that is seen. Accordingly, in a former book (Human Nature and Social Order), I tried to see society as it exists in the social nature of man and to display that in its main outlines. In this one the eye is focussed on the enlargement and diversification of intercourse which I have called Social Organization, the individual, though visible, remaining slightly in the background.
    • p. vii, Preface , lead sentece
  • BY primary groups I mean those characterized by intimate face-to-face association and cooperation. They are primary in several senses, but chiefly in that they are fundamental in forming the social nature and ideals of the individual. The result of intimate association, psychologically, is a certain fusion of individualities in a common whole, so that one's very self, for many purposes at least, is the common life and purpose of the group. Perhaps the simplest way of describing this wholeness is by saying that it is a "we"; it involves the sort of sympathy and mutual identification for which "we" is the natural expression. One lives in the feeling of the whole and finds the chief aims of his will in that feeling.
    • p. 23 (1962)

Quotes about[edit]

  • Sociologists such as George Herbert Mead and Charles Horton Cooley thought of society as a human laboratory where they could observe and understand human behavior to be better able to address human needs, and they used the city in which they lived as a living laboratory.
    • Margaret L. Andersen, ‎Howard F. Taylor (2016), Sociology: The Essentials. p. 17

External links[edit]

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