Present, past, and future: Conjugating George Herbert Mead's perspective on time

Michael G. Flaherty*, Gary Alan Fine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Time is of utmost importance in the writings of George Herbert Mead, the American pragmatist philosopher and social psychologist. Yet, despite Mead's prominence as the primary source of the symbolic interactionist approach to sociology, most social scientists are unfamiliar with his perspective on temporality. We describe his analysis of the present, the past, and the future - emphasizing that, for Mead, people live in the present, and that their interpretations of the past and the future are shaped by the present. In addition, we consider the implications of his perspective for our understanding of the self, interaction, and society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-161
Number of pages15
JournalTime and Society
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • Agency
  • Determinism
  • Interaction
  • Self
  • Temporality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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