dialogical self

From: I.Haket@ppsw.rug.nl
Date: Thu Feb 17 2005 - 08:13:19 PST

Your e-mails fed my thinking about the dialogical self en social situatedness. I
looked at the article again with your remarks in mind.

Let me first repeat that I think the position of B & R interesting and a very good
alternative for Berry’s approach. My problem was with the conceptual
framework. To say that identity is dynamic and socially situated is not the same
as offering a theory that shows, how identity is dynamic and socially situated.

Maybe I ‘d better sketch the background of my question. I ‘m working on a
dynamic conception of culture/cognition. At the moment I’m studying Rogoff’s
theory. So identity is not really my subject, but it interest me nonetheless,
because I think we need a general framework for understanding development as
dynamic and socially situated.

Looking through the article again the thought crossed my mind, that maybe I
didn’t aim my comment at the right authors. Who should provide the theoretical
framework? B&R cite Valsiner en Hermans. Valsiner interprets the relation
individual – world as inclusive separation. As I understand this, the term is
presented as an alternative to dualism, but is also meant to convey the
independent status of (in this case) I-positions inside the human head. After
reading the B & R article I read one of Hermans’ articles. My impression was,
that I-positions in his theory are rather static. (Although he claims them to be
dynamic?) Hermans conceives of self as a dynamic construction on the base of
I-positions like a father or a worker. When I ‘m looking for social situatedness I
want to understand, how I-positions are really dynamic. Let me explain this by
using as an analogy abstract cognitive skills. These used to be interpreted as
abstract competences in the head. I think abstractions as such are just in the
head of the researcher. In the same way I can conceive of I-positions as
dynamic. The I-positions are continuously created within the sociocultural
constraints of the situation. The description of I-positions is in that case just a
tool of the observer. The I-positions are not different parts that organize and
reorganize inside the head. And that just what they according to B&R –
following Valsiner - are: “…. that some forms of negotiations with the different
parts of the self are less demanding and lead us forward toward a more ‘stable’
development, although other forms of negotiations are more paralyzing, severe
and show ‘instability’.” (p 238) So B&R might want to present a really
dynamic conception of identity, but I think Valsiner’s intrapsychological
organization and reorganization still forms the background.

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