The Self We Live By: Narrative Identity in a Postmodern World

Paperback | December 15, 1999

byJames A. Holstein, Jaber F. Gubrium

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The self is a big story. In the early part of the century, pragmatists like William James, Charles Horton Cooley, and George Herbert Mead turned away from the transcendental self of philosophical reflection to formulate the new concept of an empirical selfthe notion that who and what we areis established in everyday interaction. The self was now a social structure, as Mead put it, even if it was located within the individual. The story has changed dramatically since then. Today, according to some postmodern critics, the self has been cast adrift on a sea of disparate images. Its just one swirling representation among others, bandied about the frenzy of a media-driven society. At the turn of the 21st century, the selfhas lost its traditional groundings and fizzled empirically. The self's very existence is seriously being questioned. The Self We Live By resurrects the big story by taking issue with this account. Holstein and Gubrium have crafted a comprehensive discussion that traces a different course of development, from the early pragmatists to contemporary constructionist considerations, rescuing the self from thescrap-heap of postmodern imagery. Glimpses of renewal are located in a new kind of ending, centered in an institutional landscape of diverse narratives, articulated in relation to an expanding horizon of identities. Not only is there a new story of the self, but were told that the self, itself, isnarratively constructed. Yet as varied and plentiful as narrative identity has become, its disciplined by its social practices, which the authors discuss and illustrate in terms of the everyday technology of self construction. The empirical self, it turns out, has become more complex and varied thanits formulators could have imagined.

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The self is a big story. In the early part of the century, pragmatists like William James, Charles Horton Cooley, and George Herbert Mead turned away from the transcendental self of philosophical reflection to formulate the new concept of an empirical selfthe notion that who and what we areis established in everyday interaction. The s...

James A. Holstein is at Marquette University. Jaber F. Gubrium is at University of Florida, Gainesville.

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Format:PaperbackPublished:December 15, 1999Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195119290

ISBN - 13:9780195119299

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Restorying the SelfPart I: Envisioning a Social Self2. Formulating a Social Self3. The Dark Side4. Two Options for the Postmodern Self5. Ending the Story in Interpretive PracticePart II: The Everyday Technology of Self Construction6. Narrating the Self7. Demarcating Space for Self Narration8. The Circumstances of Self Construction9. Material MediationsConclusion10. The Moral Climate of the Self We Live By

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"Just the text I was looking for....Looks like a great book."--Penny Green, University of Southern Colorado