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Personality and Identity Notes on a tendency in Modern Sociology of Interaction
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Personality, according to the concept predominant in sociology for a long time, is a relatively stable and fixed - after an individual's maturation - set of socially learned habits, dispieitions and traits. It is, roughly speaking, a miniature replica of culture and social system's that reflects their order and anomies. This view of human being has been challenged by the modern sociology of interaction, by which it is meant hero a whole range of perspectives called the "interpretive sociology", i.e. Blumerian version of symbolic interactionism, Goffman*s dramaturgism, phenomenological sociology, ethnometbodology, and some other ideas derived from the former. In short, this approach proposes to conceive human being as a self endowed with intersubiectively valid cognitive-communicative-interpretative procedures and rules that enable the self to understand, project, negotiate and create the social order in situated and locally managed lines of interaction. Instead of the stable and fixed core of habits and traits that are to determine a person's behaviour, the stress is laid here on identity work and temporarily shared agreements that constitute a long term biographical organization of personal experience (self--conceptions based on meanings sedimented in memory) or short-term self-images. The present paper is aimed at a disscussion of developmental paths of these two orientations and their theoretical and philosophical background. They are argued to be distinct and at most points incompatible forms of discourse based on different models of society, action and individual - society relation. Against the view that the interpretive conception of social actor is sociologically defective and limited, the author of the paper argues for its sociological relevance and attractiveness. He points out that in this orientation it is essentially possible to approach personal experiences in their social-cultural orderliness, and to avoid at the same time a structural reductionism that is present in the sociological determinism of the traditional concept of personality.
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