Tribulations Of The Self (sociology) Essay, Research Paper
What constitutes the ‘tribulations of the self’ in contemporary society, according to Anthony Giddens? Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.This essay will seek an explanation of what constitutes the ‘tribulations of the self’ according to Anthony Giddens (1991). In the first part of this paper, I discuss some central ways language has been viewed focusing the review on social constructivist writings as well as those stemming from the study of human development. In the second part of this paper, I discuss data that leads to the reconsideration of aspects of the language – selfhood interface. I conclude by suggesting some future avenues of research.First the essay will outline the various tribulations that Giddens describes in ‘Modernity and Self-identity’ (1991).A tribulation of the self is a test or trial for the self, that involves some degree of severity. Many of these tribulations that Giddens outlines are to do with the anxieties brought about by different aspects of life and how the individual deals with them.The first tribulation that Giddens examines is the influence of risk and doubt. Feelings of anxiety arise when the individual doubts or takes risks. Such anxieties may be reduced by adhering to a faith or religion. Often these will dictate a certain lifestyle that either reduces doubt and risk or allows the individual to think about them less (Giddens, 1991). This was certainly the case in pre-modernity. Today more anxiety arises with the awareness that there are several possibilities and choices to do with decisions about life. Anxieties caused by risk may be more often caused by the risk calculations than the risks them selves (Giddens, 1991). Risk taking is an important part of life, people take risks every day and some become so much part of a routine that they appear no longer to be a risk. There are certain risks that are beyond our immediate control. Such as ‘ecological disaster, nuclear war or the ravaging of humainity by as yet unanticipated scourges’ (Giddens, 1991. p 183). Those who spend all their time worrying about such things are not considered normal yet they are sources of anxiety (Giddens, 1991). Among other things there is awarness of high consequence risks and the notion that ‘things go wrong’ (Giddens, 1991. P182) are going to cause anxiety in every day life. The next tribulation Giddens examines is ‘ontological security, anxiety, and the sequestration of experience’ (1991. p 183). Ontology is the science of being therefor ontological security is the security of being, the maintenance of identity and the self. This would cause anxiety and result in the withdrawal from certain experiences/ activities to maintain the ontology. The latter describing the sequestration of experience.One of the main threats to this is the notion of globalisation and everyone being caught up in it. Losing a sense of place and identity due to the change in lifestyle and other aspects feel beyond our control. This involves exposure to crisis situations. Giddens (1991, p 184) says that:’a “crisis” exists whenever activities concerned with important goals in life of an individual or a collectivity suddenly appear inadequate. Crises in this sense become a “normal” part of life, but by definition can not be routinised’Giddens (1991, p 184) states that it is the ‘crisis prone nature of late modernity’ that is causing may of the tribulations of the self and this creates a general uneasiness. As a result many will withdraw from society in order to preserve ontological security and contain some of the forms of anxiety (Giddens, 1991). Giddens (1991) finds a close link between the sequestration of experience, trust and the search for intimacy. He argues that trust vested in abstract systems that help with day to day security is not as valid as trust vested in persons, and that the latter provides the moral satisfaction. This leads us into Giddens analysis of the pure relationship and the stresses and strains that he sees to cause anxiety. Here he talks about the ‘reflexive project of the self’, the idea that in post modern society it is more up to the individual to shape ones own identity, to make decisions. In traditional society authority was much more central and had more influence on the choices people made.He says that the pure relationship is a good environment for working on the reflexive project of the self because ‘it both allows for and demands organised and continuous self understanding.’(Giddens, 1991. p 186). Giddens finds that the burdens of the pure relationship outweigh the benefits and that they are often the cause of the need of therapy. The possibility of dissolution, the commitment and the trust involved in the relationship can be sources of tension.The next section of Giddens’ tribulations is headed ‘”Living in the world”: dilemnas of the self’. Here he uses the phenomenon of globalisation as a source of anxiety. Today we are more aware of the world around us and more to the point the problems there are within it. In traditional society, for example, one was aware mainly or solely of the immediate surroundings. This could encompass one’s village or town. Through mediation we are informed of day to day events across the other side of the globe. According to Giddens (1991, p 188):’the appropriation of mediated information follows pre-established habits and obeys the principle of the avoidance of cognitive dissonance.’ Most of the mediated information is accepted without question. In avoiding this questioning of the information one is remaining protected from the outside world and thus maintaining ontological security (Giddens, 1991). In this world we live in Giddens makes some direct comaprisons which are the root of tensions. The first dilemna is ‘unification versus fragmentation’. Modernity fragments as well as unifying. In traditional society fragemntation was not seen as such a problem. Fragmentation of the self is the division of the self into several selves. This may come from different presentations of the self that may be used upon meeting with different people. Part of the problem that causes tension and anxiety is that a person maybe more aware of ‘the debate over global warming that with why the tap in the kitchen leaks.’ (Giddens, 1991, p189). Tasks at hand may be more obscure than large scale global events.
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