Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mind, Self, and Facebook: A Postmodern Sociology Part. 3

Once sociologists move away from the modern paradigm and begin to utilize the tools of postmodernity, they will be able to re-appropriate modern theories of social research. Although not explicitly postmodern, Diane Bjorklund’s 1998 book, Interpreting the Self: Two Hundred Years of American Autobiography, analyzes change in the historical development of the self. Bjorklund uses autobiographies to study real people, places, and things within their historical context, as Tilly suggested. She chooses the autobiography because of the way the authors imagine themselves within the community. Autobiographers employ a number of rhetorical techniques that reflect the values of their society. Likewise, in 2011, individuals are daily authoring and re-authoring micro-autobiographies on Facebook. Today, the presentation of self takes on multiple forms on-line and off-line. Selves are being formed as they place themselves in the role of the other to communicate. The response they call out in others when they post a status or upload a picture evokes the same response in the poster. Communities are developing and strengthening as content is produced. When selves are observed un-critically, they appear disconnected, superficial, commercialized, and trivial. But when selves are observed sociologically, we see identities being negotiated in real time. We don’t have to wait sixty years for the autobiography to be written. Individuals are authoring real time stories with cultural significance. When sociologists conquer their fear of the unknown postmodern future, they will be able to approach this postmodern form of communication and develop a deeper understanding of identity construction and social interaction. Embracing the postmodern reality will also allow for a more accurate critique of the social formation and domination that exists when “selves’ psyches are engaged by the culture industries, which induce people to spend hours watching television and Web surfing, consuming advertising images that form identity.” (Agger 2004:107) The pessimistic worldview many sociologists hold is prohibiting opportunities for social research and social critique.

No comments: