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Understanding Of The Self Essay

1945 words - 8 pages

Understanding of the Self

     The social constructionist perspective holds the view that the self is continuing "shaped and reshaped through interactions with others and involvement in social and cultural activities" (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996, p 220). Social constructionist is concerned with explicating the processes by which people come to describe, explain, or otherwise account for the world (including themselves) in which they live (Gergen, 1971). Thus, the social constructionist approach implies that the self is shaped by social interaction within historical, cultural and social contexts. Social constructionist's apply an analysis of societal level which explain the self through social relations. Conversely, the psychodynamic perspective approach emphasises that much of the self of what we are driven by is hidden away in the unconscious and a battle for control takes place between the id, ego and superego. It is a very important point as it suggests that our internal representations of the world could be based on some innate propensities and these of course are unconscious. This interrelationship between world and the unconscious seek to rationalise that a self is produced through the internalization of the introjections of external people (Thomas, 1996). The essay will provide a brief introduction to the theory of the self as presented by both perspectives, then compare and evaluate the explanation offered by them.

          Ethnographic accounts of incongruent cultures as provided by anthropologist are used to defend the argument that the self is socially constructed through socialisation processes (Sapsford, 1996). For example, Markus and Kitayama proposed that with the existence of social influence, there is a greater sense of autonomy in western cultures as compared to the eastern (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996). Therefore, the social constructionist point of view is that our personal private worlds are fused with our external environment's social contact. On the other hand, the self will continue to develop through the utilization of multiple internalisation's of social identities.

     Harre believes that this internalisation can occur through language, linguistic practices and conversations. Language can be used for internal symbolisation. (Wetherell and Maybin, 1996). In order to explain the boundaries between an individual self and the society, Mauss proposed that the self identity comprise of two components, the "moi" provides awareness of one selfhood in the individual sense, whereas the "personne" comprises of social influences, such as appropriate social behaviour, which make up a society (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996). Therefore, the argument as presented by the social constructionist view is that self identity is shaped through a combination of interactions between the society and the individual (Wetherell and Maybin, 1996). An example to support would be...

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