Community, Rights, and the Self: Comparing Critical Realism, George Herbert Mead, and Beth Singer

Stephen Pratten

Table of Contents


This paper examines connections between the account of social reality outlined by George Herbert Mead and developed by Beth Singer and that developed by advocates of critical realism. Whether primarily interested in defending the relevance of Mead’s contributions or further elaborating the social ontology associated with critical realism, those who have previously compared these perspectives have focused on differences. In this paper I argue that there are important similarities between the account of community, norms, and rights provided by Mead and Singer and recent positions developed by certain proponents of critical realism. I then suggest that, even where limitations in Mead’s analysis are evident, as for example in his over-socialized account of the self, various responses can be made with more than one appearing consistent with key aspects of critical realism.


  • social ontology
  • critical realism
  • community
  • norms
  • rights
  • self