Re-recording the George Herbert Mead Papers 1855 – 1968: The Use of Archival Method in Knowledge Sociology

Cenxi Wang


This paper takes the case of the construction of posthumous work of American sociologist George Herbert Mead, Mind, Self and Society, to present the potential of archival thinking in analyzing the process of knowledge production. Instead of being pursued by Mead himself, Mind, Self and Society is edited by Charles Morris with students’ lecture notes after Mead’s death. In other words, this work is actually one kind of intellectual project which is encompassed by multi voices rather than Mead’s or Morris’ very own simple speeches. In light of it, the author tries to regard the whole process of knowledge formation as a virtue organization, in which each individual scholar makes contribution respectively to the shared goal of representing the Mead. In this case, written words are not merely the vehicle of social facts any more but exactly the very concrete outcomes of organization operation. Hence, in order to effectively trace back such intellectual endeavors within whole organization, the author attempts to establish a novel documentation system by re-describing those outcomes in certain archives form with the inspiration of genre study. And along the archival grain, the author is going to unfold the situational context, to evaluate essential operation of organization, to manifest its intrinsic structure and ultimately, to sktech out that how knowledge is eventually produced in the dynamic and multiple social interaction. This project is still in progress and the author is looking forward to more findings to present in July.


Cenxi Wang is a doctoral candidate in the iSchool of Nanjing Univeristy, where he also got his Bachelor degree in Archives. During his PhD program, Cenxi has been involved in several record-oriented projects in multi fields like construction, urban planning, history, culture and policy-making, which makes him so interested in interdisciplinary study. At present he studies in Department of Sociology in University of Chicago as visiting student to pursue a more broader social view upon archives. Currently working on his dissertation, Cenxi is attempting to address an archival path to analyze collective actions through the case study of organization management and knowledge production.