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Advanced Introduction to the Sociology of the Self

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Advanced Introduction to the Sociology of the Self

9781800375352 Edward Elgar Publishing
Shanyang Zhao, Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Temple University, US
Publication Date: July 2022 ISBN: 978 1 80037 535 2 Extent: c 144 pp
Shanyang Zhao provides a unique examination of this evolving topic with a framework to address the common questions: What is self? How is self formed? and Why does self matter? Drawing a fascinating distinction between self and self-concept, Zhao regards both as part of a larger constellation named the ‘self-phenomenon.’ He separates social determinants of self from neurocognitive prerequisites of self. Focusing on the social determinants, he reviews how social schemas shape self-concept through three intertwined mechanisms and how social resources affect self-conscious action through social position and social capital.

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Elgar Advanced Introductions are stimulating and thoughtful introductions to major fields in the social sciences, business and law, expertly written by the world’s leading scholars. Designed to be accessible yet rigorous, they offer concise and lucid surveys of the substantive and policy issues associated with discrete subject areas.

Shanyang Zhao provides a unique examination of this evolving topic with a framework to address the common questions: What is self? How is self formed? and Why does self matter? Drawing a fascinating distinction between self and self-concept, Zhao regards both as part of a larger constellation named the ‘self-phenomenon.’ He separates social determinants of self from neurocognitive prerequisites of self. Focusing on the social determinants, he reviews how social schemas shape self-concept through three intertwined mechanisms and how social resources affect self-conscious action through social position and social capital.

Key Features:

• A clear distinction between self and self-concept
• A study of the self as both a social product and a social force
• A new framework for the sociology of the self, built on the foundation of classic works
• A close examination of three mechanisms of self-concept formation with specifications of the scope conditions under which each mechanism operates
• An analysis of the distinctiveness of human normative selves through cross-species comparison

This Advanced Introduction will provide essential reading for scholars and researchers in sociology, social psychology, and social policy.
Critical Acclaim
‘Shanyang Zhao has written a high-level, but very accessible, Advanced Introduction to the Sociology of the Self. The emphasis, rightly, is on the relationship between individual and societal conceptions of the self: The self cannot exist without society and, conversely, society cannot exist without the self. The student is offered a clearly delineated and extremely useful framework for thinking about, and doing additional work on, the self and its relationship to society.’
– George Ritzer, University of Maryland, College Park, US

‘The self is one of the most fundamental units in sociology. It is also one of the most confused as successive scholarly generations have tried to disentangle our experience as individuals from our experience as social beings. Professor Zhao serves us all well in bringing some order to this chaos.’
– Robert Dingwall, Nottingham Trent University, UK

‘Study of the self has been a central part of American sociology since the beginning. Shanyang Zhao shows how this research has become even more sophisticated, including the influence of mass media on the self and the active role of human selves in shaping and changing society. Of special interest are comparisons with animal societies, some of which recognize other members of their species; others which recognize individuals and create alliances because they have self-recognition. Zhao’s book brings us to the frontier of the field.’
– Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania, US

‘Shanyang Zhao’s Advanced Introduction to the Sociology of the Self is a textbook case of how to write a textbook case. Zhao, admired as a social psychologist and theorist, has written a clear and concise summary of why the self is one of the core concepts of the discipline. Used in conjunction with empirical studies, the text provides the advanced student with creative ways to think about identity and the self-phenomenon in its communal context. Zhao’s chapter on animal selves is especially innovative and is certain to provoke lively discussion.’
– Gary Alan Fine, Northwestern University, US
Contents
Contents: 1. Introduction to the sociology of the self 2. Sociological and related perspectives 3. Emic conception of the self 4. Social determinants of the self 5. Social functions of the self 6. Self and animal societies 7. Epilogue to the sociology of the self Index
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