SUSS SSC 113 SOCIAL SELF UNIT 1 (Chapter 2 Man in Society: Identity…
SUSS SSC 113 SOCIAL SELF UNIT 1
Chapter 1 Introduction and Overview – What is the Self
What is Self
The self-concept is
an organised collection of beliefs and self-perceptions about oneself.
These beliefs are known as self-schemas.
are mental representations or templates of everything a person remembers, knows or imagines about himself.
E.g. we perceive ourselves as intelligent, humorous, overweight etc. It is also a lens through which we view and judge ourselves and other people.
Due to the fact that our self-concepts are well-developed, we tend to process information relating to ourselves better than any other information. This is known as the
is the capacity for an organism to be the object of its own attention, or to be aware of its own state of mind, and to
know that it knows
and remembers that it remembers. (Ala Des Cartes)
involves the ability to
ourselves from our physical and social environment.
is the ability to form
cognitive representations of self through language. This allows humans to communicate, form relationships, set goals, evaluate outcomes, develop self-related attitudes. We use words to name objects and communicate.
Class of self
The social self is a collective identity that includes interpersonal relationships plus those aspects of identity that are derived from membership in larger, less personal groups
on the development of the social self include:
A role refers to the
social position within a situation that an individual takes on
, along with its accompanying ideas and principles about what to do in such a situation.
For example, Jim is a married man with 2 children. He works as a prison guard and in his spare time he plays football with his friends from secondary school.
Situated identity is an
identity that is based on the roles that we play
Self-esteem and social comparison
Perception and evaluation of an idea by comparing it with current attitudes.
According to this theory, an individual weighs every new idea, comparing it with the individual's present point of view to determine where it should be placed on the attitude scale in an individual's mind. SJT is the
subconscious sorting out of ideas
that occurs at the instant of perception.
Culture refers to the complex and diverse system of shared knowledge and practices among people.
It is the mental frame through which we view society and our relations with others.
It is our worldview
or personal self-concept refers to how we define our selves according to our idiosyncratic personal relationships and personal traits
Derivations of the Self
Self- focusing is defined as the
that our attention is
focused towards ourselves
as opposed to towards our surroundings. We are able to shift our focus of attention easily between our surroundings and ourselves.
For example, when you were asked to think about who you are, you were self-focusing. However, if you were to think about a plant or a television programme that would be a change of focus your surroundings.
What is important is the ability to control what you think about, and the most beneficial direction of one's focus depends on the situation.
Self-efficacy refers to a person's
belief in his or her own ability
or competency to perform a given task, reach a goal, overcome an obstacle, or enact change. Self-efficacy should not be confused with self-esteem. (Self-esteem refers to how much you like yourself)
Self-efficacy is important because unless people believe that they have the power or ability to achieve a particular goal or task, they will have little incentive to do so. Self-efficacy tends to be consistent over time but it can be increased with positive feedback
The evaluation of oneself or
sense of self-worth
is known as self-esteem. It can be measured along a positive-negative continuum.
Having a high self-esteem means that an individual likes himself or herself, while a low self-esteem indicates that there are lots of areas that an individual dislikes about himself or herself.
Self-monitoring refers to the regulation of one's behaviour on the basis of external situations.
People who are
high self-monitors (adoptive)
are those who regulate their behaviours based on how other people react to them while those who are low in self-monitoring (innate) regulate their behaviour based on their own beliefs and attitudes.
Low self-monitors (innert) tend to behave in the same way
regardless of the situation while high self-monitors moderate their behaviours based on their reading of the situation and reacts to meet the expectations of others.
Individual vs collective
There exists a seemingly antagonistic relationship between the individual self and the collective. What they agree on is that individualism is an ideal characteristic and the self as operating autonomously.
Groups are thought to impede individualism and stifle creativity and innovation, resulting in conformity and groupthink. Hence, disastrous group decision-making is due to the lack of individuality in-group members.
Yet, too much individualism is seen to be at odds with group cohesion, unity and teamwork.
Chapter 2 Man in Society: Identity Formation
The "I" and the "Me"/Imitation and Role Play(George Herbert Mead)
Mead's idea of 'self'
According to Mead, the self is a product of an on-going social process characterised by constant interaction not only between self and others but also between different aspects of the self.
The 'I' and the 'Me"
The ‘I’ is the immediate, spontaneous, impulsive and instinctive part of the self
The “Me” refers to organised set of attitudes toward the self that is based on the views of significant others such as family and friends as well as society as a whole.
Imitation and role
refers to the social position within a situation that an individual takes on, along with its accompanying ideas and principles.
It is a perspective from which one acts
the ability to see ourselves from the viewpoint of others nad develope (i.e. develope the socialised 'me')
Mead's developmental stage
In this stage, children mimic or imitate those around them (including behaviours and gestures). This is why parents of young children typically do not want you to use foul language around them.
(2 – 6yrs)
During the play stage, children play pretend and do not adhere to the rules in organized games like soccer or freeze tag. They also pretend as the significant other. This means that when they play house, they are literally
pretending or attempting to assume the role
of mommy or the daddy that they know.
These are evidence of
They use language and engage in make belief as they take on the role of others. (i.e. role play mom or dad based on what they learn in the prep stage)
( 7 on)
In this stage, children can begin to understand and adhere to the rules of games. They can begin to play more formalized games because they begin to understand other people’s perspective–or the perspective of the generalized other. In this stage, when children play pretend, they may still play house, but are pretending to a mommy or a daddy independent of the one that resides in their home.
refers to the viewpoint of the social group at large. The child begins taking this perspective into account during this stage
Three main elements provide the framework for socialisation
Human biological potential
Agents of socialisation
We are socialised by agents of socialisation – people, organisations and institutions – that teach us how to thrive in our social world. Through these agents of socialisation, the individual learns the values, beliefs and behaviours of the culture.
For formal agents, socialisation is the stated goal. Formal agents usually have
some official or legal responsibility for instructing
Examples of formal agents of socialisation include the family. A primary goal of families is to teach children to speak and to learn proper behaviour.
do not have the expressed purpose of socialisation
, but they function as unofficial forces that shape values, beliefs and behaviours.
Some examples of informal agents of socialisation include the media, The media and advertisements bring us continuous messages even though their primary purpose is not socialisation but entertainment
The main product of the socialisation process is the
development of the self.
Humans are not born with a sense of self. It develops gradually
Social institutions are a system of behavioral and relationship patterns that are densely interwoven and enduring, and function across an entire society. They order and structure the behavior of individuals by means of their normative character. Institutions regulate the behavior of individuals in core areas of society:
The theory was developed from the works of Cooley and Mead.
According to this theory, people inhabit a
world that is socially constructed
In particular, the
of objects, events and behaviours
comes from the interpretation people give
them and these interpretations vary from one group to another (i.e. culture)
, in his theory of a "looking glass self", argued that the way we think about ourselves is particularly reflective of what other people's appraisals of us are (or more accurately, our imagining of other people's appraisals). In other words, our self-concepts are built up in what we think our intimate groups (that he called "primary groups") think of us.
, emphasised that human beings do not react directly to events; they act based on their interpretation of the meaning of events.
Major tenets of symbolic interactionism
do not sense their environment directly
, instead, humans define the situation they are in, taking
themselves as a referent point
. (i.e. The friendliness of my classmates may suggest that I am in a warm and open environment)
Human beings are described as
beings in relation to their environment.
humans are not thought of as being passive in relation to their surroundings, but actively involved in what they do
as they interact with one another
The human being must be understood as a thinking being, i.e. finding an associating meaning.
Human action is not only social interaction but also interaction within the individual. It is not our ideas or attitudes or values that are as important as the constant active ongoing process of thinking.
Culture shapes and constraints conduct but are also the product of conduct
The human being must be understood as a social person.
symbolic interactionism focuses on the activities that take place between actors. Interaction is the basic unit of study. Individuals are created through interaction; society too is created through social interaction. What we do depends on interaction with others earlier in our lifetimes, and it depends on our interaction right now. Social interaction is central to what we do.
Objects and symbols
An object is anything to which attention and actions can be directed.
Human beings live in a world of objects that they constantly create and recreate by
symbolically designating and acting toward them
Objects can be tangible or non tangible
What is a SOCIAL object
An object that comes into existence as the result of a social act. In other words, it’s an object born from shared experience, understanding and meaning.
An example of a social object is “love.”
Social objects are given importance by us not through social consensus and culture
Objects and Language
Joyce O. Hertzler defines language as a
culturally constructed and socially established system
of standardized and conventionalized symbols, which have a specific and arbitrarily determined meaning and common usage for purpose of socially meaningful expression and for communication in a given society.
Furthermore, language is made up of words, each one having meaning alone and also having meaning when combined with others in a standardized way, according to certain established rules.
Language as an object
a. Language is a repository of the objects that have proved important in the life of particular peoples.
b. Language is creative of reality and not merely reproductive also because new words can be coined and defined.
c. Language is the most powerful reality shaping set of symbols employed by human being
A sign is something that
represents something else
. i.e. Smoke is a sign of fire. (This is also an example of a natural sign.) A sign can exist only if there is an organism capable of perceiving and responding to it.
Conventional sign akaSymbols
The most important conceptual
of symbolic interactionists
symbol is a thing/ event associated with some other thing else
but it is produced and controlled by the very organisms that have learned to respond to it.
The symbol has no natural connection with that which it stands- it does not occur “in nature,”.
Symbols are also arbitrary
, as they do not have a natural connection with what they represent. This
relationship is created and shared by a community of individuals or a culture
. E.g. nonverbal hand gestures represent different things to different cultures or societies
A significant symbol is a vocal or other kind of gesture that
arouses in the one using
it the same response as it arouses in those to whom it is directed.
Language constitutes the most important and powerful set of symbols.
As a result of the ability to employ significant symbols, human beings
with one another
on the basis of meanings
Their responses to one another depend on the
interpretation of symbols
rather than merely on the enactment of responses they have been conditioned to make. Thus, they engage in symbolic interaction
The impact of Symbols
Symbols transform the environment by
expanding its scope
both spatially and temporally.
Because symbols are not tied to the actual presence of the things for which they stand, we can invoke them even when those things may be quite a distance in space and time. In doing so, symbols quite literally expand the world of humans so that it encompasses whatever they can imagine.
Symbols also transform the human environment by making it a
names substitute for things, and thus enable us to bring the external world inside our minds and manipulate it there in fairly complex ways
Contributes to the
development of self-concept
The distinction between the organism and its environment is fairly straightforward for animals that do not use symbols. The two are clearly separate from one another; the environment is what lies outside the individual animal, and the line of demarcation between the two is clear.
The symbolic capacity introduces a strikingly new element into the relationship between organism and its environment.
The ability to identify with names
allows for anchorage in the development of self-concept.
To use a name for oneself is to acquire a self, to become one of the objects in the environment toward which the individual can act and, indeed, must act.
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Signs found only in ‘natural’ connection with the things for which they stand. For example, smoke is a sign of fire.
Cooley's Looking Glass Self
Cooley believed that the
self is a social product, shaped by interactions
with others from the time of birth.
He likened interaction processes to looking in a mirror wherein each person reflects an image of the other. (i.e. looking glass self)
He stressed that this theory is not based on what other's think but rather, it is base on our perception of what other's think. Thus it can be accurate or erroneous.
The looking glass self
The looking-glass self is a reflective process based on our interpretations of the reactions of others.
Has three steps
We imagine how others perceive or judge us based on our perceived appearance and the feelings that arise as a result. We experience feelings such as pride or shame based on this imagined judgement and respond based on our interpretation.
Based on this imagined judgment, we develop an attitude and an idea about and towards ourselves, based on how we believe others perceive us.
We imagine how we appear to others.
Primary& Secondary groups
Cooley believed that the degree of closeness that we have with different groups of others have an effect on the effectiveness of their judgment in the development of our self-concept.
Cooley argued that primary and secondary groups produce fundamentally different types of interaction.
In the primary group, group members identify with the group, co-operate and sympathise with each other and also share responsibilities and culture.
As a result, primary groups often have a strong influence on a person's self.
Secondary groups on the other hand, refer to those which are larger and less intimate, such as our co-workers.
The Presentation of Self (Goffman)
Goffman emphasises the relationship between self and society by:
connecting self-awareness and behaviour to social interaction
and by linking impression management to social order and social norms
Types of impression
- that is the impression or image that you think you
impressions given off
-, the impression or image that you are actually giving out
Points to note
People work in teams which Goffman calls performance teams.
Team members work together to maintain the credibility of the performance
in front of the audience and each team member must
avoid communication that is out of character
with the team.
Hence, the success of the performance is dependent on the collaboration of all team members. For example, in a clinic the doctors, nurses and receptionists all constitute the performance team.
-Two regions of impression management. (front and backstage).
Front stage and backstage are both crucial to impression management as one impinges on another and both need to work together in order to maintain a coherent and believable identity
is the region where we present ourselves to others
is the region where we relax our impression management efforts.
Often back stage behaviour
helps to alleviate the stress encountered in the front stage
but problems arise when back stage behaviour is revealed
Barriers to perception traditionally separate front stage from back stage
Impression management occurs all the time.
People engage in performances to present themselves to others. This is crucial due to the amount of information available and the need to take into account all this information during interaction.
Goffman believed that
we naturally seek information from others when we meet them and we use such information to help establish expectations of our behaviour
as well as that of the people around us.
Much of this
information is derived from the impressions that we get from the people around us
. Likewise, others around us are constantly making similar judgments.