Role In Formation Of An Individual Sociology Essay


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Summarizing self is a part of the society and which is formed by the exchange of imaginations between the people in the society, and everyone in the society takes part in forming self, consequently different cultural rules and patterns form different self.

Higgins’s presented a theory on self-discrepancy in 1987 and explains that different kinds of states such as anxiety and dejection are created by the views of actual self and the ideal self (Kashima, Foddy, & Platow, 2002, p. 7). The ideal self is the part which is formed by the society, therefore different cultures form different ideal self consequently forming different self and identities.

External world plays a major role in the formation of an individual, which is based on the self. Self is formed by the conscious, and the conscious could be affected by media, culture or other rules or norms followed in the society.

Identity is continuously restyled and invented according to the external environment and also at the same time it incorporates the inner quality that is universally accepted as the human condition (Finkelstein, 2007, p. 3). Identity is therefore influenced by the culture and the inner quality of the identity prevailing in the culture forms the self.

Different cultures have different imaginations of how others perceive the self to be hence changing the self according to the culture. In cultures where social ties are more and society is based on family structures contrary to individualistic society, individuals are more social compare to individualistic societies of the west. In Asia people are more social and they have a collective thought as compare to individuals in the west how have more independent and individualistic.

The making of the modern self and identity is influenced by the media, the culture of the society because the self is a set of imaginations and these imaginations could easily be influenced by the media. The culture also shapes the ideal self following which the imaginations are set forming different self in the society. Which implies that every society media and culture are the main forces behind forming individuals. The concept would be easier to understand with the help of the following observations.


Charles Horton Cooley:

It is been observed that self and society cannot exist without each other and self in turn form the overall society (Cooley, 2006, p. 305). Further in the words of Charles Horton Cooley self is formed with the way a person interacts with others. In Charles negated the classical view of the gap between the person and the external world and explained that the objects in external world are basic parts of human mind and self.

Self in turn forms the society and the set of imaginations on which the self is based is affected by the culture. Therefore media can affect the set of imaginations on which the self is formed shaping identities and the society.

George Herbert Mead

In Mead’s view self and body exist separately and the body could do all the normal functions without the presence of self (Mead, n.d. p. 293). Further the body exist separately and losing a part of the body may not affect the self at all. Mead explained that self has the characteristics of an object itself, therefore it is separate than the body and summarized that self is generally a social structure which arises from social experiences.

Mead stressed on discussing the ways a person can get out of himself and become and object to himself, which could happen in communication. Mead explains self is a part of the society and states that society is formed by a continuous process of communicative social acts between self in the society.

Further Mead explains the difference between "me" and the "I". "I" is a response to the set of believes set by others and "me" is the organized set of attitudes assumed for others. Generalizing a self is form by the collections of reflection of others in the "me" and natural perception in "I".

Mead states that the core of the self is reflexivity and the self becomes individual due to its relationship with others. Self develops by taking into imagination of how others perceive them in the society, therefore informing a society every one contributes.

The way we interact with others leave reflections in our mind which in turn shapes our conscious developing the imagination for the ideal self and then we continuously suppress the actual self to become the ideal self.

William James

According to James Self is explained with the help of three components which are the material self, the social self and the spiritual self.

James discusses the concept a bit more differently in detail which might be closer to the current scenario. The material self is the part of the self which reflects the material elements like clothes, body, car, home etc. Material self is shaped and continuously influenced by the media, cultural rules, norms and trends.

While social self is the part which is formed as reflections of the communications with others. Spiritual Self is the part which is formed as a set of reflections about values, set of beliefs religion etc.

The concept of "SELF", could be understood with the help of following examples.


The Looking Glass Self

To understand the self we can take the example of a looking glass as we see our-self in the glass we see ourselves as perceived in the brain of some other person. This could be applied to understand self and we could state that the self is made out of the society as imagined by the people in the society.

Further the looking glass example consists of following three elements:

The imagination of our appearance to the other person

The imagination of other person’s judgement of that appearance

Self-feeling (pride mortification)

Further the self is shaped by conscious which is developed by the way a person interacts with others and the imagination of one’s own self in some other person’s mind. It could be stated self is made by the ideas exchanged within mind and in the society there is a continuous exchange of different ideas imagined by everyone in the society.

The looking glass is a perfect example as we look our self in the glass we see our clothes and hair style in picking all these styles and the collection of clothes the imagination of others perceived about us plays the main role. Therefore we are bound to like those things which are preferred by the society or by someone else. These ideal imaginations of a self could be portrayed by the media or by the culture which in turn forms the imagination of the self.

So in the looking glass we see our self as perceived by someone else and we tend to do all those things to build the identity which is perceived in the imagination of someone else forming the overall society.


In words of Cooley we imagine and share ideas and when we share ideas we actually shape self, and self is created based on these imaginations of our own appearance in some other person’s minds.

The example of children could also be taken to explain self as they try to take attention by doing something to take interest, which changes over time when they grow up and they start suppressing the real wish to form the self.

As we grow up we start to over ride the feelings created by others on our self and the self is continuously formed and influenced by the changing fashions, trends, fads and relationships. Children in Eastern societies are more social and used to live in collective family structures have different identities then the children living in individualistic western societies.

Affects of Various Mass Media on "Self"

As we know self is formed by taking imaginations and remembering how others imagine, which is vulnerable to changes made by various mass media. Hence different modes of mass media could be used to affect the imagination of how others perceive the self to be, thus forming the vary layers of the society.

We can easily state that the self are formed as portrayed by the mass media in a civilized society, and media has a mainstream role in forming a self. In today’s world information provided by mass media is very rapid hence affecting the formation of the self and society as a whole in every part of the world.

Today the mass media has become the general trend setter which is to be followed by everyone in the society affecting the formation of self. As in the mirror example we see our self in the mirror as portrayed by the media and then eventually make choices as portrayed in the media. These imaginations shown by the media build our conscious which eventually drive our imagination to match the ideal imagination of the self.

As explained by James earlier the material self is continuously being driven by the media developing our likes and dislikes. Media is the major factor in driving the development of the Material Self which in turn forms the Self and the society in overall.

In the glass example above the way we see our self in the mirror we actually suppress the actual self and let the ideal self over ride. Ideal self constitutes the material self which is driven by the media. The social self driven by the reflections of the communication with others is the part which is driven by the culture due to which different individuals in different cultures are different.

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