The Postmodern Self: A Theoretical Consideration

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kenneth D Allan, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: The postmodern self consists solely of fragmented, situational images that result in an emotional flatness or depthlessness. Goffman’s work has been presented as a precursor of postmodernism and recent literature has used Goffman to argue for the postmodern, non-essential, transient self. This essay presents a critique of the postmodern assumption that symbols have become divorced from everyday interaction and argues that Goffman did not disallow an essential self; throughout his writings he recognized its place outside the interaction order. It is further argued that the phenomena of the postmodern self can be understood in terms of generalized, abstracted principles. Self is presented as a function of an individual's interaction - ritual density and linguistic code. Based on Mead's notion of the self as a cognitive, internalized conversation of gestures, the self is conceptualized as varying along two dimensions: the interaction ritual continuum taken from Durkheim, Goffman, and Collins, and the linguistic code continuum taken from Bernstein, Douglas, and Bourdieu. The argument is summarized in a series of propositional statements.

Additional Information

Quarterly Journal of Ideology, Vol. 20 (1 & 2): 3-24
Language: English
Date: 1997
Postmodern self, Essential self, Dimensions of self

Email this document to