What is the term for the alteration or change in self-indentification consequent to interaction with an authority or professional? For example, you are stopped on the street by a policeman. By his actions, you suddenly ‘feel’ guilty. Further, you may feel that you are being treated like a criminal.

1 Answer 1


I recognise the phenomenon you refer to. I think the closest relevant classificatory term is 'interactionism' or 'social interactionism' as developed by GH Mead in the early 20th century and, naturally, later developed, refined and qualifed by others.

In the interaction with the policeman you are a subject, an I that perceives, thinks, imagines, and so on : but you have also become an object to yourself through and as a result of the interaction. As encountered by the policeman you are an object regarded as a suspect; and this now becomes a new part of your 'presented self'. You experience yourself as an object of police suspicion and as one treated like a criminal.

If this analysis is on anything on the right lines for you, then mead's 'interactionism' seems the right term.


G.H. Mead, Mind, Self, and Society, ed. by Charles W. Morris. University of Chicago Press, 1934 [and reprinted]. ISBN 978-0-226-51668-4.

The Individual and the Social Self: Unpublished Essays by G. H. Mead, ed, David L. Miller. University of Chicago Press, 1982. ISBN 978-0-608-09479-3.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .