self


self
self, the self
In sociology, the concept of self is most frequently held to derive from the philosophies of Charles Horton Cooley , William James , and George Herbert Mead , and is the foundation of symbolic interactionism . It highlights the reflective and reflexive ability of human beings to take themselves as objects of their own thought. For Mead, ‘it is the self that makes the distinctively human society possible’ (see Mind, Self and Society, 1934). In this work, a distinction is usually drawn between two phases of the self process: the ‘I’, which is spontaneous, inner, creative, and subjective; and the ‘Me’, which is the organized attitudes of others, connects to the wider society, is more social and determined. The ‘Me’ is often called the self-concept-how people see themselves through the eyes of others-and is much more amenable to study. The self evolves through communication and symbols , the child becoming increasingly capable of taking the role of others. Mead's discussion highlights this growth through the ‘play’, ‘game’, ‘and generalized other’ stages. The generalized other refers to the organized attitudes of the whole community, enabling people thereby to incorporate a sense of the overarching community values into their conception of self.
Among more recent writings on the self, those of Morris Rosenberg are particularly interesting, especially in relation to the study of youth cultures (see, for example, the co-authored Black and White Self-Esteem, 1972). In Conceiving the Self (1979), Rosenberg differentiates the content, structure, dimensions, and boundaries of the ‘self-concept’, which is defined as ‘the totality of the individual's thoughts and feelings having reference to himself as an object’. The content embraces ‘social identities’ (groups or statuses to which the individual is socially recognized as belonging, such as Black, female, or whatever) and ‘dispositions’ (tendencies to respond as a Black, female, and so forth, which the individual sees himself or herself as possessing). The relationship among the various social identities and dispositions gives the structure of the self. The attitudes and feeling one has about one's self are given on a series of dimensions (including salience, consistency, and stability). Rosenberg also distinguishes the extant self (our picture of what we are like); the desired self (what we would like to be like); and the presenting self (the way we present ourselves in a given situation). Finally, the boundaries of the self-concept refer to the so-called ‘ego-extensions’ to which it is applied, such as shame in one's humble origins, or pride in one's fashionable clothes.
The concept is also used in therapy, counselling, and psychology in somewhat different ways, highlighting the self as an inner need or potential. Social psychologists routinely deploy an armoury of associated and derived concepts, including self-awareness (focusing attention inward on one's self), self-conception (the view one has of one's ‘real’ self), self-disclosure (revealing one's ‘true’ self to another), self-images (transient concepts of self that change across situations), and self-perception (the processes by which individuals come to think about and know themselves). See also Goffman, Erving; identity ; Maslow , Abraham; self-actualization.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Self — Self, n.; pl. {Selves}. 1. The individual as the object of his own reflective consciousness; the man viewed by his own cognition as the subject of all his mental phenomena, the agent in his own activities, the subject of his own feelings, and the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • self- — ♦ Élément, de l angl. self « soi même ». ⇒ auto . self élément, de l angl. self, qui signifie soi même . ⇒SELF , élém. de compos. Élém. tiré de l angl. self « soi même », de même sens, entrant dans la constr. de subst. empr. à l angl. ou faits… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • self — /self/, n., pl. selves, adj., pron., pl. selves, v. n. 1. a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one s own self. 2. a person s nature, character, etc.: his better self. 3. personal interest. 4. Philos. a …   Universalium

  • self — self; self·dom; self·hood; self·ish·ness; self·ism; self·ist; self·less; self·ness; self·same·ness; thy·self; un·self; do it your·self; do it your·self·er; non·self; it·self; self·ish; self·ward; self·ish·ly; self·ward·ness; self·wards; …   English syllables

  • Self — объектно ориентированный, прототипный язык программирования, который задумывался как развитие языка Smalltalk. Разрабатывался в лаборатории Xerox PARC, а потом в Стэндфордском университете. Это была экспериментальная разработка, целью которой… …   Википедия

  • self — W3S2 [self] n plural selves [selvz] [: Old English;] 1.) [C usually singular] the type of person you are, your character, your typical behaviour etc sb s usual/normal self ▪ Sid was not his usual smiling self. be/look/feel (like) your old self… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • self — W3S2 [self] n plural selves [selvz] [: Old English;] 1.) [C usually singular] the type of person you are, your character, your typical behaviour etc sb s usual/normal self ▪ Sid was not his usual smiling self. be/look/feel (like) your old self… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • self — [ self ] (plural selves [ selvz ] ) noun *** count or uncount who you are and what you think and feel, especially the conscious feeling of being separate and different from other people: sense of self: Young babies do not have a fully developed… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • self- — is a highly productive prefix forming compounds of various types, in most of which self acts as the object on which the action or attribute signified by the second element operates, e.g. self betrayal (= betrayal of oneself), self awareness (=… …   Modern English usage

  • self- — [self] [ME < OE < self: see SELF] prefix 1. of oneself or itself: refers to the direct object of the implied transitive verb [self love, self restraint] 2. by oneself or itself: refers to the subject of the implied verb [self acting] 3. in …   English World dictionary


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