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Objective meaning: The formation of self in Mead and Sohn-Rethel
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5065-8973
2019 (English)In: Acta Sociologica, ISSN 0001-6993, E-ISSN 1502-3869, Vol. 62, no 1, p. 34-46Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This analysis of the work of George Herbert Mead and Alfred Sohn-Rethel compares their respective accounts of the formation of the self. The analysis proceeds from two important similarities: the effort to understand self-consciousness not as primordial but as the product of social processes, and the view that these processes form a circuit: the self arises from consciousness’ return to itself, concluding a movement whereby consciousness is first externalized onto objects and then internalized, taking on the insular shape of self-consciousness. What sets the two accounts apart is the site from whence the self returns: objects. In Mead, the self returns from meaningful objects, and this same (intersubjective) meaning is entangled with the process of self-formation. In contrast, for Sohn-Rethel, the self returns from objects whose meaning is not established intersubjectively but objectively: the self is the unintended consequence of commodity exchange. In Mead, interaction among people affords meaning to objects and thus evokes the self; in Sohn-Rethel, interaction among commodities evokes an objective meaning that renders people as selves. Interpretative sociology should attend to the objectively and unconsciously meaningful forms analyzed by Sohn-Rethel. To illustrate this conclusion, reference is made to a certain experience of the social under neoliberalism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 62, no 1, p. 34-46
Keywords [en]
Interpretative sociology, intersubjectivity, Mead, real abstraction, self, Sohn-Rethel
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-34926DOI: 10.1177/0001699317749286ISI: 000456737300004Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85060597412OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-34926DiVA, id: diva2:1264689
Available from: 2018-11-21 Created: 2018-11-21 Last updated: 2019-03-19Bibliographically approved

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Granberg, Magnus

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