SUSS SSC 113 SOCIAL SELF UNIT 1
SUSS SSC 113 SOCIAL SELF UNIT 1
Chapter 2 Man in Society: Identity Formation
The "I" and the "Me"/Imitation and Role Play(George Herbert Mead)
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
Conduct is self-referential
People form conduct as they interact with one another
Conduct depends on the creation and maintenance of meaning
Culture shapes and constraints conduct but are also the product of conduct
Human conduct is social- and action-based
Symbols are socially constructed signs
. A sign is something that points to or indicates something else, e.g. smoke is a sign of fire as it tells us that there is a fire nearby.
Signs influence behaviour
. In order for a sign to have an effect, we need to perceive and respond to a sign. For example, the beep on the phone has an effect because we perceive it to mean something and respond to it accordingly. This is because we have learnt to associate the sign to the impending occurrence or event and react accordingly.
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 "thumbs up" means good in many cultures but is a rude sign in Greece. Hence, We create and empower symbols with social meanings.
Language constitutes the most important and powerful set of symbols.
Words name various things, relationships and events with no inherent connection with what they represent.
For example what we term as an apple, is called by different names in different cultures. It is ping guo (Mandarin), ringgo (Japanese) manzana (Spanish), epal (Malay), sagwa (Korean). All these words refer to a particular fruit but the sound of the word carries no meaning other than to members of the culture in which the word represents that particular object.
A word thus has significance only if the speaker can learn to associate the word to the same thing or event that other speakers of the language do.
A fundamental fact for symbolic interactionists about human existence is that we see the self as an object.
This idea of the self as an object ties in with our objective and symbolic self-awareness. We are objects to ourselves in that we can act towards ourselves. Not only can we act toward ourselves, we can name ourselves, imagine, talk about and talk to ourselves. We can also see our own actions in relation to the actions of others
We see ourselves as objects by naming group members and ourselves and in this way incorporate and internalise the group within us
. In this way, we represent the group's activities in our mind and act according to how we think others will act. In this way, we control our actions by anticipating the actions and reactions of others. This concept of acting towards the self as an object forms the basis of Cooley's and Mead’s ideas
Cooley's Looking Glass Self
The Presentation of Self (Goffman)
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 differentiate ourselves from our physical and social environment.
is the ability to form abstract 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
some of the
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
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 extent 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 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.