INTRODUCTION The social constructionist perspective holds the view that the self is continuing 'shaped and reshaped through interactions with others and involvement in social and cultural activities' (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996, p 220). Social constructionist is concerned with explicating the processes by which people come to describe, explain, or otherwise account for the world (including themselves) in which they live (Gegen, 1971). Thus, the social constructionist approach implies that the self is shaped by social interaction within historical, cultural and social contexts. Social constructionist's apply an analysis of societal level which explain the self through social relations.
Conversely, the psycho dynamic perspective approach emphasizes that much of the self of what we are driven by is hidden away in the unconscious and a battle for control takes place between the id, ego and superego. It is a very important point as it suggests that our internal representations of the world could be based on some innate propensities and these of course are unconscious. This interrelationship between world and the unconscious seek to rationalism that a self is produced through the internalization of the introjections of external people (Thomas, 1996). The essay will provide a brief introduction to the theory of the self as presented by both perspectives, then compare and evaluate the explanation offered by them. SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONIST AND PSYCHODYMIC PERSPECTIVE Ethnographic accounts of incongruent cultures as provided by anthropologist are used to defend the argument that the self is socially constructed through socialization processes (Sapsford, 1996). For example, Markus and Kit ayama proposed that with the existence of social influence, there is a greater sense of autonomy in western cultures as compared to the eastern (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996).
Therefore, the social constructionist point of view is that our personal private worlds are fused with our external environment's social contact. On the other hand, the self will continue to develop through the utilization of multiple internalization's of social identities. Harry believes that this internalization can occur through language, linguistic practices and conversations. Language can be used for internal symbolization. (Wetherell and Maybin, 1996). In order to explain the boundaries between an individual self and the society, Mauss proposed that the self identity comprise of two components, the 'moi' provides awareness of one selfhood in the individual sense, whereas the 'person ne' comprises of social influences, such as appropriate social behaviour, which make up a society (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996).
Therefore, the argument as presented by the social constructionist view is that self identity is shaped through a combination of interactions between the society and the individual (Wetherell and Maybin, 1996). An example to support would be social constructionist's Miller and Sperry whose finding discovered connections in the emotions of a child's and his mother's. Thus they believe that this finding proves that there is an internalization and construction of one self through descriptive stories and social distribution (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996). Both the social constructionist and the psycho dynamic views adopt a hermeneutic epistemology, which centers on the analysis of a person's actions, their fundamental influences and how the external social world can be internalized and represented symbolically within an individual (Stevens, 1996). However, there are key differences between the two views. The social constructionist applies a societal study approach which converge the external society and the social relationships within it.
This implying that the self is built-up and continually developed through multiple social networks (Sapsford, 1996). On the other hand, psycho dynamic theories applies psychoanalytical methods to find out the basic unconscious motives and meanings derived from oral descriptions of subjective experiences, which eventually bring about selfhood as an idiosyncratic 'psychic reality, with its basis formed during the initial stages of one's life (Thomas, 1996). This intuitive reality one self can be influenced by intentions unaware, biological needs and interactions with the external world, especially 'significant others' (Thomas, 1996). Also, an additional significant aspect as suggested by this intra personal view is that the self is made up of fragments which are connected by active internal processes (Sapsford, 1996). There is inference from both views that the development of self hood is non-unitary. The social constructionist postulates that through participation in social relationships, characteristics are formed.
As such, the self is dispersed within society (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996). Mead supports such social aspect of the self, through the use of 'role play', whereby children interna lise values of a multitude of people which are important for social and moral development (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996). Experience and meanings are exchanged as the roles of others are employed, which leads to internalization, to become a part of one's self identity. (Thomas, 1996). Therefore, the distinction which Mead makes - that the self comprise of two aspects, is similar to Mauss. The self as 'I' is intuitive, whereas the distinctive object 'Me' is the development of generalised attitudes and morals of others which are shared and internalized.
The modification of one's internalization remains to continue and this can lead to potential conflicts between an individual's needs and the internalized group standards (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996). Internalization of others is also critical in the psycho dynamic explanations of a self. However, these internalization's happens through the unconscious introjections of knowledge structures of others, especially parents or guardians, who are extremely significant in early interactions. This therefore indicates that the conscious psychic reality is somewhat molded from an early age, which in actual fact, poses a contradiction to the social constructionist ideas of continual development.
(Thomas, 1996). Moreover, Mead had only explained the development of self identity as a process of reflection, dispersion and internalization. On the other hand, the psycho dynamic view seeks to explain why introjection is a vital element of the psyche. In accordance to the psycho dynamic theories, our conscious psychic reality is systematically distorted by unconscious processes to work against the neurotic anxiety of 'psychological truth' and threats to the ego. As such, the defense mechanisms are engaged to restore a sense of unity within the self (Thomas, 1996).
In spite of this, both views do not have an accepted approach and there have been different versions for each of their basic principles which have been offered by several different theorists. Vygotsky, for example, concur to a great extent with Mead's version of the distributed self as dispersed and the distinct existence of boundaries between the individual and external influences. However, he also debated about the internalized conversations, language and dynamic interactions with other children, as he believed these are extended through 'zones of proximity'. This theory thus connotes that the instinctive aspect of the self has greater autonomy for creation of oneself instead of what Mead suggested, that the child is a powerful agent by himself in the process of self identity construction (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996). Conversely, the psycho dynamic view proposes that it is at the preverbal stage that internalization and fragmentation takes place, which is a result of emotion interactions and introjections. Thus, this statement is a contrast to the social constructionist emphasis on language and conversations (Thomas, 1996).
Even though, all psycho dynamic theories state that self identity is fragmented and it is an unconscious representation that is incomplete or distorted, there are however, differences between them (Thomas, 1996). Freud's theory of psychosexual development emphasizes on the internal disagreements between the natural egocentric biological drives of the id and the society reality. On the other hand, classic Freudian theory had also implied that the fragmentation of the self is only between the ego and an introject of the father, through a defensive identification which happens when the child is about five years of age (Thomas, 1996). The ego as presented in this case is comparable to the 'I' as mentioned by Mead and the 'Me' is represented by the moral restrictions and concerns, which is produced by the internalization of the father figure or the object.
Therefore, Freud proposes that the maintenance of a sense of 'wholeness' could be so, with the continuing need of a father figure. (Thomas, 1996) Conversely, Klein argue that through introjection and projection which occur earlier than suggested by Freud can cause an object to be divided into good and bad parts. He calls this the 'paranoid-schizo d' position. When the child comes to realise that an object can comprise of both good and bad parts this cause some confusion and there is a sadness attached to the loss of the separate entities. (Thomas, 1996). However, Winnicott and the object relation theories postulate that babies have no sense of individuality from their mother and they will only begin to feel separate when role play and imaginations and dreams begins for them.
Nonetheless, Fairbairn had also argued that dependence on disenchantment could potentially lead to one's self identity become so separated that one develops pathological schizoid personality (Thomas, 1996). As a result, it appears that psycho dynamic theories recognize that fragmentation is an unavoidable conflict of one's self identity which could be detrimental unless it is resolved (Thomas, 1996). Giddens and social constructionists, however beg to differ, arguing that dispersion and one's capability of internalizing many others allows the individual the opportunity of potential constructions of self identity with little disagreements. (web).
As it could be seen, in different versions of the psycho dynamic views, the theme of disagreement seems to be central. But, it should be notable that conflict should not be deemed as unavoidable or too detrimental within the social constructionist view. The underlying truth is that the social constructionist view do accept the occurrence of disagreements during self development which is continuous, especially when our inner sanctum are converged with multiple internalization's of social identities (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996). Despite that, the notion of 'hidden self' as suggested by the psycho dynamic view, postulates that conscious identity is at best incomplete or at worst - merely provides a false sense of reality which appears to oppose the social constructionist belief that self identity is a reflection of conscious awareness (Thomas, 1996). Yet Frosh, provides another perspective which propose that if our own sense of self identity is all but an illusion, the use of 'reflection and observations' from others in a comparable manner as to what was suggested by Mead's 'looking glass self' approach may provide some use. Consequently, if we do accept the psycho dynamic basic postulation of the hidden self, utilizing social construction methods could break through the illusion to attain an impartial insight of the 'real self' (Thomas, 1996).
CONCLUSION In conclusion, the social constructionist and psycho dynamic perspectives have different level of analysis and focus on the use of symbolic processes to explain fundamental deterministic influences that constitute the 'self'. The social constructionist view adopts the societal analysis whilst the psycho dynamic view adopts an intra personal study. The different levels of analysis require different methods; the social constructionist emphasizes on cultural studies of anthropologists whereas the psycho dynamic focuses on psychoanalysis to explain subjective experiences. Both views concur that internalization of others is a vital aspect for the development of self identity, which in actual fact is not a unitary self but the buildup of the fragments of others.
The social constructionist's postulates that others are internalized through conversations and language influences, which leads to the generalization of others, to become internalized as our self identity. Mead and Vygotsky, however do not propose that self identity is totally developed from the external society, but instead attributes its development to the varying degrees of people interactions with the wider society. As such, our inner world is converged and dispersed to the wider society. On the other hand, the psycho dynamic view recognizes that fragmentation of one self is unavoidable, which will stimulate unconscious disagreement, only to be dealt with defence mechanisms within. This will eventually produce a self identity which is either incomplete or distorted. (1996 words).