Culture and Identity Self

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Personal identity: how the person sees themself as an individual

Charles Cooley 1964 the looking glass self. We develop a sense of ourself through interpreting the messages that we recieve from others about our appearance and behaviour. Develops from birth via primary socialisation and continues through our secondary socialisation. 

Erving goffman 1959 theatrical preformance. 'all the world is a stage'. Cooperation with each other is like feeding each other lines. Props are used to managed the impression we give to others, e.g. a doctor and his stethoscope. 'Front region' is where presentation takes place, the desired impression is carefully managed, e.g. whilst out of the kitchen waitering. 'Back region' is private, only insiders allowed, a very different version of reality is enacted. e.g. back chatting in the kitchen

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Self cont.

Social identity: understanding ourselves and who we are in relation to other people or groups. e.g. social class, gender and ethnicity.

Changes as we age. Constantly negotiating who we are in relation to other people. The social roles we occupy have a strong influence on our social identity.

Various norms and values are associated with certain roles, e.g. beoming a parent.

Goffman 1963 analysed the difficulties that some groups face in constructing a positive social identity. Three main characteristics that form social stigma: physical defects, personal weaknesses (e.g. criminal record) and social stigmas such as membership of a religious or ethnic group. Some visable, some not so apparent. Strategies to try and adobt a positive social idenity:

  • Attempts to hide the stigma, could even be cosmetic surgery
  • Admitting the stigma and accepting help from a professional
  • Protests against the stigma
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