As a concept, it is roughly equivalent to the idea of the Freudian superego.
George Herbert Mead maintained that the experience of role-play and pretence in early childhood were vital for the formation of a mature sense of self, which may only be achieved by the child learning to take on the role of the other, i.e., seeing things from another person’s perspective. By doing this, the child may eventually be able to visualize the intentions and expectations of others and see him/herself from not just another’s point of view but from groups of others. The generalized other represents the common standpoints of those groups.
The attitude of the generalized other is the attitude of the larger community. According to Mead, the generalized other is the vehicle by which we are linked to society.