Self-Esteem in Modern Society
In Chapter 2 we attempted to define self-esteem, which is very difficult, although it is clearly an extremely important concept in psychology. We briefly referred to the emergence of self as a development of the individual's personality. Personality may be simplistically defined as the self acquired through the development of adequate role performance. The concept of this acquisition includes the total socialization process that prepares the individual for social action and the humanization process. The orientation process of social action includes all the values, attitudes, norms, and mores -- all the codes of behavior that the culture provides for orderly conduct. It is only by reference to these codes or standards of behavior that we are able to even tentatively define normal, neurotic, or deviant behavior. This chapter will discuss some of the characteristics of our technological times that make it difficult to develop good self-esteem. This is not to imply that high self-esteem is an ethereal concept, but rather, that through conscious awareness we can counteract the cultural negativism that has a powerful effect on one's sense of self.
Self-esteem develops in a social milieu (or social world), which is a part of the total culture in which the individual is socialized. In the striving for superiority, or goal striving, it is evident that the individual sets goals that are consistent with those of the culture and fundamentally consistent with status positions created by the culture. The culture is comprised of two dynamic aspects: the "organic," or technological, material construct, and the "superorganic," the aspect of culture that is concerned with ideas, philosophies, values, standards, norms, and so forth. We live in a period in which culture changes rapidly, in that many of the old values and attitudes that were a part of the primary institutions are no longer viable. Ogburn's