Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age 1st Edition
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From the Inside Flap
Building on the ideas set out in the authors The Consequences of Modernity
, this book focuses on the self and the emergence of new mechanisms of self-identity that are shaped by—yet also shape—the institutions of modernity. The author argues that the self is not a passive entity, determined by external influences. Rather, in forging their self-identities, no matter how local their contexts of action, individuals contribute to and directly promote social influences that are global in their consequences and implications.
The author sketches the contours of the he calls “high modernity”—the world of our day—and considers its ramifications for the self and self-identity. In this context, he analyzes the meaning to the self of such concepts as trust, fate, risk, and security and goes on the examine the “sequestration of experience,” the process by which high modernity separates day-to-day social life from a variety of experiences and broad issues of morality. The author demonstrates how personal meaninglessness—the feeling that life has nothing worthwhile to offer—becomes a fundamental psychic problem in circumstances of high modernity. The book concludes with a discussion of “life politics,” a politics of selfactualization operating on both the individual and collective levels.
From the Back Cover
- Item Weight : 13.8 ounces
- Paperback : 264 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0804719446
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.66 x 9 inches
- ISBN-13 : 978-0804719445
- Publisher : Stanford University Press; 1st Edition (July 1, 1991)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #327,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Giddens is an optimist, as well as a very capable writer. His book proceeds in a well-planned series of steps from basic principles of modern life to the power we can still exert as individuals and as social movements. (The text becomes easier to read as you go along, I've found.)
The threat of global warming hangs over the text, and its relevance is even clearer now, 18 years after the book was published. Furthermore, I think Giddens assumes that certain movements, such as therapy and woman's liberation, have gone further and reached more of the population than they really have. But the book's message of possibilities persists, and goads us on to moral action.
The strength of Giddens' work has always been his identification of reflexivity as the central mechanism behind social and psychological transformations - the nested critique of society that sets up progressively complex turnovers in psyche and structure, one on the heels of the other, institutionalizing doubt as a central feature of existential and social life. Giddens makes clear that "postmodernity" is a meaningless term for his purposes; instead he takes the more sensible route (alongside contemporaries such as the brilliant Scott Lash) and employs the term "high modernity" to describe the present times as of the same conceputal order (albeit much more "intense" in critical ways) than preceding centuries. He compares and contrasts the self and the other, the mechanics of disembedding and reimbedding, the dynamics of intensionality and extensionality, and the twin states of trust and risk in a way that convincingly demonstrates that modernity is a game whose time is not yet up - and whose textures social science is capable of elegantly describing, and possibly even explaining. Giddens' theory of the "pure relationship" and his related analyses of self-society relationships are extremely important theoretically to many areas of the social sciences, including nation-state theory, globalization, development ethnography, refugee studies, and cultural studies. His work is even beginning to exert an influence on parallel disciplines as well, for example discourse analysis.
So, while the philosopher might dismiss this work as dependent on the truth-claims of modern psychology, the sociologist (at whatever level of expertise) will find this to be an engaging, challenging, and clearly written work with far-ranging application to empirical social-scientific material.