[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Re: [xmca] Re: Inappropriate affect
thanks for your replies and clarifications on Scheff's (and cooley's) priority of the person as foundational whereas Mead and Hegel posit the "social as foundational"
Would you add Martin Buber's "dialogical self" (his book "Between Man and Man") as a perspective which shares Mead's and Hegel's standpoint? (that social relations are the ground of subjectivity?)
The reason I'm asking is that Buber is often mentioned with Mead and Hegel as sharing this common conviction though exploring the implications in different ways.
Scheff may not share this common ground with Hegel, Mead, and Buber but his engagement with PARTICULAR emotions does lead to a deepening appreciation of how fundamental ACTUAL emotions are to coordinating activity and conduct.
Scheff also points out how critical "imagined" or "interpreted" JUDGEMENT is to ACTUAL emotions. Scheff, in particular highlights the centrality of "shame" as a particularly powerful emotion in regulating activity.
As a person who works in schools, Scheff's analysis does make me more sensitive to the possible dynamics of shame in the activities between students and students and between teachers and students.
----- Original Message -----
From: Gregory Allan Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thursday, December 10, 2009 2:25 pm
Subject: [xmca] Re: Inappropriate affect
> I just wanted to point to a possible concern with Scheff's
> take on the nature of the human subject. In particular, I
> think that there is an important distinction between on the
> one hand, Scheff's and Cooley's Looking Glass Theory of the
> Self (and this can be traced further back to Adam Smith in his
> Theory of Moral Sentiments - and I've heard Scheff talk about
> this on another listhost, so I'm not introducing anything new
> here), and on the other hand, Hegel's notion of the social
> ontology of the subject.
> The distinction that I would like to draw between these two
> notions of the subject is that Scheff/Cooley/Smith take a
> position on the subject that leaves us with an individual that
> develops ontogenetically and phylogenetically relatively
> autonomously (i.e. presumes a Self that is logically, if not
> ontologically, prior to society - to use Mead's language). In
> contrast, Hegel's view of the subject is one in which the
> subject develops phylogenetically and (arguably)
> ontogenetically in dialectic with and through the social.
> The LGS does not give us an understanding of the social
> constitution of the subject. Rather, it gives us a way of
> understanding of how a relatively autonomous individual
> behaves with respect to a social surround.
> I don't know that this is necessarily the case since I haven't
> read enough Smith/Cooley/Scheff, but I think that it is a
> potential problem with this approach (and it is one that Marx
> pegs on the "Robinsonades" - so again nothing new here).
> I'd also mention that on the Society for the Study of Symbolic
> Interaction listserve, Scheff was claiming that Cooley and
> Mead are two distinct lines. Mead's taking the role of the
> other (TRO) is different from Cooley's LGS. Larry, you had
> suggested that Scheff was saying that Mead was following
> Cooley. I don't think this is Scheff's point, and it conflates
> the two positions which I think should be considered
> separately (for the above reasons that they are qualitatively
> different). As you mention, for Scheff the biggest difference
> is that Cooley's LGS takes into account emotion whereas for
> Scheff, Mead has no place for emotion. Others on the listserve
> noted that Cooley has no place for the mutual alignment of
> activity of Self and Other that Mead does. Nor does he
> conceive of the development of the Self through interaction
> with others (similar to my argument above about Hegel's social
> ontology of the subject).
> Even though I see these as two separate lines, I have often
> wondered about the extent to which there may not have been
> some cross fertilization of Smith's LGS and Hegel's social
> ontology of the subject in Mead's "I" and "me", and that this
> might be the reason why this categorical distinction is such a
> muddle. It's a really messy distinction that is
> uncharacteristic of a thinker like Mead. But it hasn't
> bothered me sufficiently to draw me away from other pursuits
> (like finding a job), although talking about it certain does
> give me a break from these more mundane pursuits.
> P.S. Thanks for this Larry and for the Scheff online link to
> his book and webpage. (I was thinking that I had something new
> to say re: working with the minutiae of "verbatim transcripts"
> in order to make larger claims about the whole and here it is
> already written). Really interesting stuff though.
> Message: 7
> Date: Wed, 09 Dec 2009 20:40:16 -0800
> From: Larry Purss <email@example.com>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Inappropriate affect
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Message-ID: <email@example.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> In thinking about the location of emotions and where they are
> situated I believe Thomas Scheff's exploration of the power of
> the particular emotions of embarrassment, shame, and
> humiliation as the foundational "social" emotions adds an
> important perspective to the elaboration of the place of
> emotion in our theories.
> He was a student of Erving Goffman whose elaboration of
> Cooley's looking glass self focused on the centrality of
> emotions in our development of a social self. Goffman's basic
> work "Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" is interpreted by
> Scheff as extending and deepening Cooley's idea of the looking
> glass self. Scheff points out there are two BASIC components
> to the LGS:
> 1) shared awareness (intersubjectivity, attunement)
> 2)the emotions that are generated within shared awareness.
> Scheff believes it is the RELATION BETWEEN these two
> components that can be used to develop fundamental conjectures
> about the basis for human conduct.
> In extending Cooley's LGS Goffman argued that embarrassment,
> shame, and humiliation, had universal, pancultural importance
> for social cohesion. For Goffman embarrassment permeates
> everyday life and our dealings with others. It informs
> ordinary conduct in areas of social life that
> institutionalized life does not reach. Embarrassment and shame
> arise from a threat to the social bond, no matter how slight.
> For Scheff, ATTUNEMENT, the degree of social CONNECTEDNESS, of
> accurately taking the viewpoint of the other WITHOUT JUDGING
> IT is the KEY component of social bonds.
> Scheff (and Cooley & Goffman) believe persons are constantly
> aware of their own standing in the eyes of others, implying
> almost continuous states of self-conscious social emotions of
> embarrassment and shame or the ANTICIPATION of these states.
> (and when attunement is mutual, feelings of pride)
> Scheff points out that in discussion of topics such as
> conflict, sexuality, and honor the emotions of embarrassment
> and shame are implicated. Goffman and Scheff analyze the
> process of the LGS as a dynamic process with 3 interrelated
> 1)Imagination of the others' view of self
> 2)the IMAGINED JUDGEMENT of the other of self
> 3)the ACTUAL, not imagined FEELING about self that is the
> result of steps 1 & 2.
> Scheff in elaborating this perspective believes it is almost
> impossible for readers to accept his premises because of the
> BIASES of Western society when discussing shame and
> humiliation. Scheff proposes there is a TABOO on shame in
> modern INDUSTRIAL societies. He sees that studies of shame in
> social sciences by Cooleey, Freud, Elias, and Goffman, are
> generally ignored.
> Scheff points out when these social emotions are discussed it
> is the mildest form of the emotion - embarrassment - (a less
> intense form of shame) that breaks the taboo and is let into
> discourse. As Scheff states, "Embarrassment is speakable,
> shame is UNSPEAKABLE, in ordinary conversation.(Page 9, of
> article on web titled "LGS: the Cooley/Goffman Conjecture.
> Scheff points out that Mead and Dewey, who followed in
> Cooley's footsteps focused on "taking the role of the other"
> focus their analysis on behavior, and thoughts of others.
> Scheff believed Cooley carried the idea of "taking the role of
> the other" further in his looking glass self because he
> includes the centrality of emotion in his analysis.
> Following is an extended quote from Cooley that captures his
> position on social self feeling.
> As is the case with other feelings, we do not think much of it
> [that is, of social self-feeling] so long as it is moderately
> and regularly gratified. Many people of balanced mind and
> congenial activity scarcely know that they care what others
> think of them, and will deny, perhaps with indignation, that
> such care is an important factor in what they are and do. But
> this is ILLUSION. If failure or disgrace arrives, if one
> suddenly finds that the faces of men [sic] show coldness or
> contempt instead of kindliness and deference that he is used
> to, he will perceive from the shock, the fear, the sense of
> being outcast and helpless, that he was living in the minds of
> others without knowing it, just as we daily walk the solid
> ground without thinking how it bears us up. (Cooley, 1922)
> Scheff when interpreting this passage sees this idea as
> profoundly important. He states "intersubjectivity is so
> built into our cultural make-up that it will usually be
> virtually invisible. It follows from it that we should expect
> that not only laypersons but even most social scientists will
> avoid explicit consideration of intersubjectivity. Although
> human communication is built upon intersubjective accord, it
> is learned so early in infancy it goes unmarked in most
> I wanted to post this extended summary of Scheff's analysis of
> the centrality of the social bond to human conduct and
> activity because it draws our attention to concrete moment to
> moment particular emotions and therefore moves the discussion
> of emotions from a level of generality (emotions) to a
> consideration of particular emotions (shame).
> Scheff also suggests that this analysis of shame and
> humiliation as possibly being key emotions for understanding
> the processes of social bonding may be defended against being
> acknowledged or as Scheff says UNSPEAKABlE.
> Greg Thompson
> Ph.D. Candidate
> The Department of Comparative Human Development
> The University of Chicago
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list