Self and Identity: Personal, Social, and Symbolic

Self and Identity: Personal, Social, and Symbolic

Self and Identity: Personal, Social, and Symbolic

Self and Identity: Personal, Social, and Symbolic

Synopsis

Recent perspectives on selfhood have significantly amended the social cognitive theory of the self. This edited volume outlines the latest meta-theoretical and theoretical contexts of self-research and suggests new directions for future research. Self and Identity examines theoretical accounts of human experience within the contemporary socio-cultural milieu and attempts to answer the question of what it means to be human. It provides a clear structure within which to conceptualize contemporary empirical research on self and identity in terms of personal, social, and symbolic aspects. In so doing, it identifies the symbolic aspect as an emerging area of contemporary significance. The book is intended for graduate students and researchers in social and personality psychology interested in self and identity and self-research. It may also be used as a supplemental text in advanced-level courses on self and identity.

Excerpt

The phenomenon of selfhood poses dual problems for social psychology. On the one hand, social psychology investigates the phenomenon of self. Humans can conceptualize themselves and construct their self-conceptions because of their symbolic and self-reflective capacity. Once constructed, self-conceptions influence social psychological processes in the future. Humans are self-constitutive beings by virtue of their self-reflexivity. On the other hand, social psychology also provides conceptions of the person, which in part constitute the phenomenon of self. Social psychology as a research enterprise aims to construct theories of the person as a being that is evolutionarily, sociohistorically, and deveopmentally constituted. In this way, social psychology participates in a sociohistorical process by providing conceptions of the person, which may in turn be appropriated by people for the construction of their own self-conceptions. Thus, social psychology is a discipline that both investigates and provides self-conceptions.

At the beginning of the new millennium, the social psychology of self and identity is at a crossroads. Social psychology has seen a great surge of interest in self-processes with the advent of a social-cognitive theory of the self in the last two decades. Equipped with the serial computer metaphor of the mind as a universal symbol processor, it has produced a voluminous literature. At a metatheoretical level, the all powerful central processing unit (CPI), which creates, stores, and manipulates symbols, provided a conceptual device that has enabled social psychologists to investigate the inherently intrapersonal aspect of self-processes, involving memory and inference. At the same time, the CPU may have acted as a metaphor of the asocial self that is always and completely in charge, thus providing a conception of the self as the “totalitarian ego” (as Greenwald, 1980, put it). However, in recent times, a number of metatheoretical and theoretical perspectives of selfhood have emerged that have significantly amended this social-cognitive theory of the self.

This volume outlines the current metatheoretical (Part I) and theoretical (Parts II-IV) contexts of self-research, and points to new directions by collecting chapters written by researchers who are contributing to this newly emerging diversity. Although a reflective soul-searching is not the common mode for social psychology, we believe it important to make explicit the underlying metatheoretical assumption of our research enterprise, which are often implicit and sometimes even hidden. When they remain implicit, research programs may be hampered by unrecognized internal contradictions, which may lead to irreconcilable predictions and expectations, persistent unresolvable puzzles, and paradoxes (e.g., multiple vs. unified self). Further, without explicating assumptions, miscommunication . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.