Sociology of the Self The self, according to classical sociology, is a reasonably consistent collection of conceptions about who we are in relation to ourselves, others, and social institutions. In the sense that it is formed via interaction with other people, the self is socially created. That is, how we understand ourselves depends on what others think of us and how they react to us.
Self-understanding in contemporary society is often described as problematic or even pathological. Sociologists have looked at various aspects of human behavior in order to explain this phenomenon. One of the most important factors behind individualism is the idea that the self is something that can be owned by someone else. This view of the self leads to a denial of its true nature, which is inherently social.
Self-awareness is also seen as important in understanding why some people harm themselves while others do not. Those who suffer from self-harm may do so because they believe that they are bad or wrong inside and that the only way to make themselves better is to cut themselves off from their bodies. Others might see no reason to hurt themselves when they could just as easily cause pain to another person. The fact that some people choose not to act upon their violent impulses is then explained by assuming that they know what they are doing is wrong.
Finally, sociology has studied suicide because of its serious consequences for individuals and societies.
Sociological theories of the self seek to explain how social processes such as socialization impact self development. George Herbert Mead, an American sociologist, established one of the most influential sociological approaches to the self. The "I" represents self as subject; the "me" represents self as object. According to this view, individuals develop into subjects by interacting with others, and they become objects by internalizing societal norms.
The self is also understood as a narrative. Narrative theory focuses on the ways in which stories shape and are shaped by society. David Lenson, John Carroll University professor of sociology, developed this perspective on the self. He argues that narratives about individual success or failure play a crucial role in socialization. These stories serve as guides for people to follow or avoid in their daily lives.
Narratives about the self can be internalized by individuals or observed by others. If others tell children that they are smart or talented, these children are likely to believe it themselves. This process is called "internalization". If children do not believe other people's opinions of them, they will struggle to develop an idea of who they are.
Children also learn what it means to be smart or talented by observing others. Their parents, teachers, and friends all have opinions about them; if these people think that children are intelligent, they will try to show it by giving them opportunities to succeed.
In anthropology, the self is defined as a process that orchestrates an individual's personal experience, after which she or he becomes self-aware and self-reflective about her or his role in society (Taylor, 1989). The self is also seen as something that evolves over time through social interaction.
Early ethnographic studies of tribal peoples in North America, South America, Africa, and Oceania demonstrated that they have no concept of a stable self that is independent of others. Instead, each person is seen as a collection of different roles that are performed for specific reasons by someone who is identified by a given name. These names may be inherited from one's parents, adopted to indicate membership in a particular group, or chosen by oneself to represent some aspect of oneself. Roles may be active or passive, good or bad; they may last for a few minutes or several months. They may be connected with religious practices or not. But whatever their nature, roles are taken on voluntarily by individuals who expect to be rewarded for their efforts.
In modern societies, the self is commonly equated with the ego, which is seen as a limited entity that emerges out of the unconscious mind and provides us with with a subjective perspective on our lives. It is this ego that decides what roles we will play in society and motivates us to perform them. By fulfilling these roles we obtain feelings of satisfaction and self-esteem.
A Cross-Cultural View on Selfhood In the following, we refer to selfhood as "partially shared representations of the self and its relationships to others, generated and maintained by interactions and behaviors within a specific cultural framework" (Vignoles et al., 2016, p. 19).
Selfhood can be defined as "the set of attributes or characteristics that make up an individual's identity", which includes such things as gender, age, ethnicity, religion, and physical abilities (Bloch, 1996, p. 1). Selfhood also includes psychological states such as emotions and thoughts. Finally, selfhood includes social roles such as student, parent, friend, or employee. Social roles are ways in which individuals identify themselves to others; for example, when asked how he/she identifies himself/herself, a person might say "a father". The set of attributes or characteristics that make up an individual's identity is called self-concept. Self-concept may change over time in response to experiences, whereas self-identity is assumed to be stable over time.
In philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry, the concept of self has been the subject of extensive discussion and debate for many centuries. Some philosophers have argued that there is no such thing as self-existence independent of consciousness or mind, while other philosophers have argued that self does indeed exist, but only as conceptualized by humans.
The concept of the self in psychology refers to a person's experience as a single, unitary, autonomous entity that is distinct from others and experienced with continuity over time and space. The self-experience comprises awareness of one's physically as well as one's inner character and emotional life. It also includes a sense of personal identity, such as who I am or what my name is.
Psychologists have made many attempts to define and explain the self-concept. They do so because the self is central to understanding human behavior. The self affects how we think and feel about ourselves and others, which in turn influences what we do. For example, if you believe that you are worthless, no one will want to be associated with you. Thus, your self-concept may affect whether you get hired for a job interview or not.
Social psychologists say that people use three strategies to make sense of their experiences: identifying with objects, interpreting events as signs, and believing in supernatural forces. Self-knowledge is important for effective use of these strategies. For example, if someone believes that the sun rises every day over New York City, they cannot use object identification to make sense of why they did not receive email from work yesterday. Similarly, if a person thinks that spirits guide some people but not others, they cannot interpret events as signs if they believe that they are alone in the world.