Friday, 27 March 2009

Real life MATRIX!

I have been inspired by the last few contextual studies lectures concerning the social construction of our lives. The realisation that the world in which we belong is shaped by a continuing legacy of human intervention which is a result of centuries of changing opinions, pressures, powers and dominance has been (and still is) a huge concept to get my head around.
I mean – take the idea that even the fundamental identity of our gender, is socially constructed to mean how we understand it today....It's like – you just have to question then how real that understanding is! So - does my son really like the ‘male activities’ he engages in because I [and his society] has simply taught him to like those things? Is he really who he is – or is he who I have created and shaped based on the fact he happened to be born a biological male? Even if I had brought him up without influencing his gender identity – would that be enough – as soon as he was exposed to the world – gender socialisation is rife!
Then in an epiphany type moment I thought – it’s like the Matrix [great movie with hottie Keanu Reeves in] – a constructed world that is confined to the boundaries created by socialisation.......OK so, the Matrix was of course way more far-fetched – but the concept behind it is actually very real! Everything you see, the way you behave, what you wear, what you like/dislike – it’s all down to social construction......[in the film – the computer constructed the world!] The power of this socialisation process is massive and impacts on the very nature of who you are!
I have been reading about Charles Cooley [looking glass self] – very interesting; the idea that a person's self identity grows out of society's interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others – you shape who you are depending on how others see you! How weird is that???? I mean, I thought I was who I was because I’m me (if you know what I mean) – but according to Cooley, I see myself largely based on how others see me...and this has changed and will continue to change throughout my life! .......dead interesting stuff!
Well that’s my muse for this morning...I was actually in the middle of Brian’s essay when I started to write this- so I’d better get back to that! Am interested to hear what anyone else thinks about this subject.......


Crystal said...

hi, Jen
In my personal opinion of Cooley's theory, I would said that it doesn't apply to everyone but most of people. Let's look at people who got strong personality and high self-esteem (like yourself in my eye), Cooley's theory will not work on you, other people will hardly shape who you are or change who you are. (just like Maslow's theory that you are on the top of level - self-acturation).However if you look at some people who has weak mind and low self-esteem then it's very easy to shape by how other people see them. Naturally or normally, all human being want to be liked and accepted by other people who's around them. In order to do that, to change their own personality or identity to fit in the peers or groups become very important to them. And Cooley's theory is making a lot sense, how do you think?
it's nice to see you back on the blog and I am really enjoy reading this post, thanks.

Jen said...

I understand what where you are coming from - but I would argue that Cooleys theory might still have substance......You perceive me as a 'strong personality with high self esteem' - because you see me in the context of being a fellow student. But in this context I remain driven towards an important personal goal, hence, I'm confident and outspoken....and feel valued in class....I am certainly strong enough not to bother too much about peer group feeling towards me (sorry to bring that up again!) but what about the lecturers? If they were to constantly devalued my class contribution.....and made me feel like I was well off track and spouting off lots of rubbish - then I'd wager that my confidence would plummet. Why? because I value their peception about me [in the context of the degree] because the degree is important to me! So, I reckon that Cooleys self is dependant on how much you value where the perception is coming from....{are you following me??} Another example....Perhaps that's why [some] teenagers [generally] couldnt give a toss about what their parents think about how they look etc - but are highly influenced by their peers?
It's such an interesting concept that ones identity is shaped by society....making us as people solipsistic! :-)

Crystal said...

yes, I can understand what are you saying, and I agree with your point. I am not just say it, when I leave the last comment, I did think some of Cooley's theory is to do with how important and how vauled that person or groups around you can shape who you are. That's why I said "hardly change who you are" not "impossible!", Yeah, his theory makes a lot sense of it. How about one's personality, temperement? You could change or shape by other people but how about when it's time that you may grew out of it. for example, what I am(how I see myself) now is different then what I was 10 years ago. Time, environment, education and people who are around you changes you all the time. How do you think? I hope that my comments doesn't waste your time as you may already knew a lot of it. xx