Mead deals with the notion of the “generalized other.” The generalized other is the organized community or group where an individual belongs. One acts and believes as the community does. There is a set of common attitudes and behaviors that individuals in the community follow. Among different groups and communities, there are different expectations and norms attached. An individual may assume a different role based on which group he or she belongs to.
We rarely see a person exclusively bound to a single group or community. A given individual finds themselves within multiple groups or communities. This could include groups such as: family, friends, work, school,and even churches or other religious institutions. There are certain expectations regarding behavior and attitude attached to each of these groups. In addition, each of these groups may hold different sets of morality. One would not be able to be as obnoxiously vocal in school as they are among their friends. Drinking and partying- while a norm among friends- would not be condoned under the moral standards of most families and religious institutions. There are also times where “unprofessional” behavior or attitude slips out in the work place or at the job. One finds themselves in a constant struggle with him or herself as well as with the different communities or institutions. Individuals often find themselves playing “dual roles” adjusting to the different expectations and norms placed on them by different groups of society.