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Social Selves
Theories of Self and Society

Second Edition


February 2008 | 216 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"The first edition of this book brought difficult questions about selfhood together with equally awkward issues of power and the 'social'. Not since Mead or Goffman, perhaps, had this been attempted in such a useful way, and in such an assured and accessible text... This completely reworked second edition retains all of these virtues, and takes the original analysis into new territory, not least with new chapters on gender and class... If you're interested in identity - particularly how identity 'works' - this book is essential reading".
- Richard Jenkins, Professor of Sociology, Sheffield University

"A foundational book, beautifully framed for this new century. The old theories of self and identity must be revisited in these times of global and cultural transformation. What kinds of selves are now available to us? Which theories best help us make sense out of who we are today. Burkitt brilliantly charts a path through this complex set of issues, and we owe him a huge debt for doing so".
- Norman K. Denzin, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This new, completely revised version builds on the popular success of the first edition. It seeks to answer the basic social question of 'who am I?' by developing an understanding of self-identity as formed in social relations and social activity. Comprehensive, jargon-free and authoritative, it will be required reading on courses in self and society, identity and personality formation.
 
Society and the Self
 
Dialogue and the Social Self
 
Ethics, Self and Performativity
 
Power, Knowledge and the Self
 
Gender, Sexuality and Identity
 
Social Relations, Social Class and the Self
 
Self in Contemporary Society
 
Conclusion

'This is a foundational book, beautifully framed for this new century. The old theories of self and identity must be revisited in these times of global and cultural transformation. What kinds of selves are now available to us? Which theories best help us make sense out of who we are today. Burkitt brilliantly charts a path through this complex set of issues, and we owe him a huge debt for doing so' - Norman K. Denzin, Distinguished Research Professor of Communications, Sociology and Humanities, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

'The first edition of this book brought difficult questions about selfhood together with equally awkward issues of power and the 'social'. Not since Mead or Goffman, perhaps, had this been attempted in such a useful way, and in such an assured and accessible text.

This completely reworked second edition retains all of these virtues, and takes the original analysis into new territory, not least with new chapters on gender and class.

If you're interested in identity - particularly how identity 'works' - this book is essential reading' - Richard Jenkins, Professor of Sociology, Sheffield University


Most of the chapters in this book are set out as helpful argumentative reflections on the relevant topics. These topics map onto the topics of my Social Selves module very well.

Dr Luke Doggett
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, Kingston University
December 14, 2016

Excellent book for understanding the interpretations of the self, this will be recommended to higher level students.

Mr Lewis Simpson
Department of Health & Social Studies, Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education
January 10, 2014

I have recommended this text as core reading material for my course on Identity & Subjectivity. It is the main text for my module, but I did not make it an essential text as it focuses on sociological perspectives. This is an important part of my course, but I have had to recommend other texts to cover psychological aspects of identity. The book is clearly written and my students have commented on its accessible style.

Mr Kevin Cheung
Division of Psychology, Birmingham City University
November 11, 2013

A very useful text which opens up theories of self and society in a very accessible way

Miss Charlotte Jones
Warwick Institute of Education, Warwick University
July 23, 2013

A very helpful text to support consideration of self in social rather than purely psychological terms. Helpful for counselling students in understanding the social context of their clients.

Mr Tony Moynihan
Health and Care, Colchester Institute
September 17, 2011

Quite an advanced texts for first year undergraduate social psychologists, but I'm going to use the introductory section on 'Society and Self' for a specific session on 'Self and Identity'.

Dr Kelly Benneworth
Sociology , York University
July 11, 2011

An insightful exploration of both historical and contemporary approaches to notions of self and identity.

Miss Jessica Clark
School of Applied Social Science, University Campus Suffolk
June 25, 2011

A very well written book, covers all aspects of 'self'. Suitable for all Health and Social Care students studying at level 5/6.

Mrs Jacqui Fromberg
Faculty of Health, Community and Care, Croydon College
February 7, 2011

Ian Burkitt's book has been included on my PhD student reading list because it is one of the few scholarly studies about self and social indentities. Notions of identity of self and society stretch back to ancient times with Plato's republic but the emphasis on self and society came to prominence with George Herbert Mead's seminal work in the 1930s when he connected the mind, self and society as an embodied conceptualisation of social being. There are many challenges facing scholars of indentity and significantly different disciplinary approaches in doing so, with their differences in emphasis on social or psychological conceptions of identity and the construction of identities of self together with the difficulties of bridging the self with social identities constructed by the self and others. In this very accessible text Burkitt manages to achieve a synthesis of social selves by examining complex issues of self and society and their interlationship using specific themes to do so. The themes offer different perspectives on the complexities involved in constructing identity through dialogue, performance, power, gender, sexuality, social class and as a member of contemporary society. This is an inspirational text for anyone with an interest in identity. As a marketing professor identity is clearly an important construct for conceptualising markets and relation in those markets between individuals and society and Burkitt's scholarly work offers many insightful explanations of these complexities.

Professor Tony Hines
Dept of Retail Management, Manchester Metropolitan University
October 19, 2009

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One PDF


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