2b.ikuscommentary.gillespie_hametner_joerchel (p)

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Unformatted text preview: Returning
To
James:
A
Methodological
Challenge.
 Commentary
on
“Reflexive
and
Non­reflexive
Identity
 Perceptions:
Finding
a
Balance”
(Katharina
Hametner
 &
Amrei
C.
Joerchel)
 ALEX
GILLESPIE
 University
of
Stirling
 
 
 
 The
 article
 by
 Hametner
 and
 Joerchel
 (2009)
 makes
 a
 clear
 and
 cogent
 argument
 for
 developing
a
theory
of
identity
that
includes
both
reflexive
and
non‐reflexive
aspects
in
 a
dynamic
model.
The
argument
is
compelling
and
difficult
to
disagree
with.
On
the
one
 hand
it
is
clear
that
there
is
a
reflexive,
explicit
and
narrative
aspect
to
the
self.
This
is
 evident
 in
 the
 narratives
 people
 tell
 about
 themselves,
 the
 way
 in
 which
 they
 think
 about
 their
 possessions
 and
 achievements,
 and
 the
 answers
 they
 provide
 about
 themselves
 in
 interviews
 and
 self‐report
 questionnaires.
 On
 the
 other
 hand
 it
 is
 also
 clear
that
there
are
patterns
of
action
which
are
outside
of
the
reflexive
self‐concept,
and
 yet
which
are
still
part
of
the
self.
For
example,
alcoholics
and
drug
abusers
are
often
the
 last
 to
 realise
 the
 problems
 caused
 by
 their
 habitual
 behaviour.
 Equally,
 people
 on
 holiday
often
 criticise
 the
 behaviour
of
 ‘other’
tourists
 while
 failing
to
 notice
that
 their
 own
behaviour
is
quite
similar
(Ichheiser,
1949;
Gillespie,
2007).
Hametner
and
Joerchel
 are
correct
 when
they
argue,
first,
that
reflexive
aspects
of
identity
have
received
more
 research
 attention
 than
 the
 non‐reflexive
 aspects,
 and,
 secondly,
 that
 our
 theories
 of
 identity
need
to
integrate
both
reflexive
and
non‐reflexive
aspects
of
the
self.
 
 However,
 the
 situation
 described
 by
 Hametner
 and
 Joerchel
 is
 puzzling
 when
 one
 considers
 it
 in
 the
 light
 of
 the
 fact
 that
 one
 of
 the
 earliest
 and
 most
 popular
 conceptualisations
 of
 the
 self,
 put
 forward
 by
 William
 James,
 emphasised
 both
 the
 reflexive
and
non‐reflexive
aspects
of
the
self
in
a
dynamic
model.
Indeed,
James
(1893)
 is
often
quoted
as
saying:

 
 “Whatever
I
may
be
thinking
of,
I
am
always
at
the
same
time
more
or
less
aware
of
myself,
 of
my
personal
existence.
At
the
same
time
it
is
I
who
am
aware;
so
that
the
total
self
of
me,
 being
as
it
were
duplex,
partly
known
and
partly
knower,
partly
object
and
partly
subject,
 must
 have
 two
 aspects
 discriminated
in
it
 of
which
 for
shortness
we
 may
call
one
the
Me
 and
the
other
the
I.”
(James,
1893,
p.
176)
 
 What
James
is
saying
is
that
the
self
is
only
ever
partly
known.
The
known
aspect
he
calls
 the
‘Me.’
But
who
is
it
who
knows
this
‘Me’?
James’
answer
is
that
the
‘Me’
is
known
by
 unknown
aspects
of
the
self,
namely,
various
‘I’
positions.
For
self
to
become
an
object
to
 self
 there
 must,
 James
 argues,
 be
two
aspects:
one
part
known
 (i.e.,
‘Me’)
 and
one
 part
 knowing
(i.e.,
‘I’).

 
 Taking
up
James’
terminology
we
can
characterise
Hametner
and
Joerchel
as
advocating
 that
more
research
is
done
on
the
‘I’
within
James’
scheme.
While
plenty
of
research
has
 examined
 the
self‐concept,
 selfrepresentations,
 and
 self‐images
 of
various
groups
 (i.e.,
 research
 on
 the
 ‘Me’),
 little
 research
 has
 examined
 the
 ‘I.’
 Each
 self
 entails
 many
 ‘I’
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
33
‐
35 33 positions—they
are
the
positions
from
which
we
perceive,
think
and
act
(as
opposed
to
 what
we
perceive,
think
or
act
towards).
‘I’
positions
are
not
given
by
nature,
rather,
like
 Bourdieu’s
 concept
 of
 habitus,
 we
 are
 socialised
 into
 them.
 Moreover,
 they
 introduce
 creative
non‐linearity
into
the
heart
of
the
self.
As
the
self
becomes
aware
of
self’s
own
‘I’
 positions,
that
awareness
becomes
a
new
‘me.’
The
‘I’
acts,
and
through
social
processes
 of
feedback,
actors
become
aware
of
their
actions,
able
to
see
them
through
the
eyes
of
 the
community,
and
thus
gain
new
‘Me’
facets.
Thus
the
I/Me
formulation,
put
forward
 by
 James,
 is
 highly
 dynamic
 and
 includes
 within
 itself
 a
 dynamic
 that
 can
 be
 used
 to
 theorise
change
within
the
self—and
thus
again
the
formulation
seems
to
answer
to
the
 call
put
forward
by
Hametner
and
Joerchel.

 
 In
 light
 of
 this
 return
 to
 James,
 the
 problematic
 pointed
 to
 by
 Hametner
 and
 Joerchel
 needs
 some
 reframing.
 The
 question,
 I
 suggest,
 is
 not
 why
 are
 there
 no
 theories
 that
 integrate
the
reflexive
and
non‐reflexive
aspects
of
the
self.
Indeed,
one
could
argue
that
 the
most
classic
theory
of
the
self,
put
forward
by
James,
does
just
this.
The
problematic
 is
more
subtle:
Why,
despite
the
existing
theory,
does
research
on
the
self
remain
largely
 concerned
with
the
reflexive,
or
known,
aspect
of
identities?
 
 The
 answer,
 I
 suspect,
 is
 methodological.
 Methodology
 has
 not
 kept
 pace
 with
 theoretical
development.
The
main
methodologies
available
for
studying
the
self,
such
as
 self‐report
 questionnaires,
 interviews,
 and
 content
 analysis
 of
 various
 data
 sources,
 afford
 an
 analysis
 of
 people’s
 and
 groups’
 self‐conceptions.
 Whether
 one
 uses
 questionnaires,
 interviews
 or
 focus
 groups,
 the
 tendency
 in
 research
 has
 been
 to
 ask
 people
 about
 their
 identities,
 and
 from
 that
 data
 it
 is
 very
 difficult
 to
 get
 beyond
 the
 reflexive
self‐reported
identifications
and
self‐conceptions.
How,
when
swamped
in
self‐ report
 data,
 can
 we
 begin
 to
 grapple
 with
 the
 non‐verbalised,
 the
 non‐reflexive
 and
 implicit
aspects
of
identity?
Or
rather,
what
data
and
what
methods
of
analysis
are
more
 likely
 to
 be
 more
 productive
 in
 making
 visible
 the
 implicit
 dynamics
 of
 identity?
 The
 field
 is
 not
 ready
 to
 provide
 an
 answer
 to
this
question,
 but
it
 can
provide
a
 couple
 of
 useful
pointers.
 
 First,
 studying
 the
 ‘I’
 or
 the
 non‐reflexive
 and
 implicit
 aspects
 of
 identity
 requires
 making
 interpretations—going
 beyond
 the
 data
 to
 postulate
 something
 which
 those
 being
studied
might
not
even
agree
with.
If
our
participants
did
agree
with
our
analysis,
 then
it
would
no
longer
be
an
analysis
of
 ‘I’
positions,
but
rather
an
analysis
of
‘Me’
self
 images.
Making
interpretations
may
seem
bold,
and
risk
being
unscientific.
But
there
are
 many
 objects
 taken
 as
 ‘real’
 within
 physics
 which
 have
 never
 been
 ‘seen’—but
 only
 inferred
from
data.
The
key
is
in
 how
the
interpretations
and
inferences
are
made,
and
 on
the
basis
of
what
data.
 
 Secondly,
researchers
of
identity
need
to
broaden
their
sources
of
data
and
develop
new
 ways
 of
 analysing
 that
 data.
 If
 researchers
 only
 use
 questionnaires,
 interviews
 and/or
 focus
groups,
then
it
is
very
difficult
to
get
beyond
self‐report.
In
order
to
examine
the
 practical
aspects
of
identity,
mentioned
by
Hametner
and
Joerchel,
researchers
need
to
 observe
 practical
 action.
 In
 this
 regard,
 ethnography
 provides
 some
 direction.
 Good
 examples
 of
 ethnographic
 research
 on
 identity
 are
 provided
 by
 Adams
 (1996)
 and
 Holland,
Lachicotte,
Skinner
&
Cain
(1998).
Drawing
upon
the
anthropological
tradition,
 their
combination
of
subtle
observation
and
refined
interpretation
enable
going
beyond
 self‐reports
 towards
 more
 implicit
 aspects
 of
 identity.
 In
 order
 to
 examine
 the
 more
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
33
‐
35 34 psychological
 ‘I’
 positions,
 mentioned
 by
 James,
 and
 central
 to
 the
 theory
 of
 the
 Dialogical
 Self,
 researchers
 are
 going
 to
 have
 to
 get
 at
 the
 stream
 of
 thought.
 Valsiner
 and
van
der
Veer
(1988)
and
Valsiner
(2003)
have
made
progress
in
this
regard.
They
 argue
 for
 micro
 step‐by‐step
 analyses
 of
 spontaneous
 discourse,
 where
 reflexive
 and
 alternating
moves
between
the
‘I’
and
the
‘Me’
can
be
empirically
observed.
Combining
 both
observation
of
action
and
microanalysis
of
the
stream
of
thought,
would
enable
us
 to
get
at
the
implicit
aspects
of
identity
both
in
terms
of
action
and
thought.
 
 Hametner
 and
 Joerchel’s
 paper
 leave
 us
 with
 a
 methodological
 challenge.
 It
 is
 not
 enough
to
simply
state
that
the
self
is
dynamic
and
that
it
comprises
reflexive
and
non‐ reflexive
components.
The
challenge
is
to
make
these
aspects
visible
within
our
research.
 Current
methodology,
arguably,
does
more
to
conceal
than
reveal
the
non‐reflexive
 and
 dynamic
aspects
of
identity,
and
accordingly,
new
methodologies
are
needed.
 
 References
 
 Adams,
V.
(1996).
Tigers
of
the
snow
and
other
virtual
Sherpas:
An
ethnography
of
 Himalayan
encounters.
Princeton,
NJ:
Princeton
University
Press.

 Gillespie,
A.
(2007).
Collapsing
self/other
positions:
Identification
through
 differentiation.
British
Journal
of
Social
Psychology,
46(3),
579‐595.

 Hametner,
K.,
&
Joerchel,
A.
(2009).
Reflexive
and
non‐reflexive
identity
perceptions:
 Finding
a
balance.
Psychology
&
Society,
2
(1),
22‐28.
 Holland,
D.,
Lachicotte
Jr.,
W.,
Skinner,
D.,
&
Cain,
C.
(1998).
Identity
and
agency
in
 cultural
worlds.
Cambridge
MA:
Harvard
University
Press.

 Ichheiser,
G.
(1949).
Misunderstandings
in
human
relations:
A
study
in
false
social
 perception.
American
Journal
of
Sociology,
55
(suppl.),
1‐72.

 James,
W.
(1893).
Psychology:
A
briefer
course.
New
York:
H.
Holt
and
company.
 Valsiner,
J.
(2003).
Beyond
social
representations:
A
theory
of
enablement.
Papers
on
 Social
Representations
(www.psr.jku.at),
12,
7.1‐7.16.

 Valsiner,
J.,
&
van
der
Veer,
R.
(1988).
On
the
social
nature
of
cognition:
An
analysis
of
 the
shared
intellectual
roots
of
George
Herbert
Mead
and
Lev
Vygotsky.
Journal
 for
the
Theory
of
Social
Behaviour,
18(1),
117‐136.

 
 AUTHOR
BIOGRAPHY
 
 Alex
 Gillespie
 is
 a
 lecturer
 in
 social
 psychology
 at
 the
 University
 of
 Stirling.
 His
 main
 interests
 are
 the
 formation
 of
 intersubjectivity,
 the
 self,
 and
 self‐reflection
 in
 social
 interaction.
This
line
of
enquiry
follows
the
work
of
James,
Mead,
Vygotsky
and
Bakhtin.
 He
 has
 recently
 published
 a
 book
 on
 this
 theoretical
 and
 empirical
 work
 entitled
 Becoming
 other:
 From
 social
interaction
 to
self­reflection
 published
 by
 Information
 Age
 [email protected] 
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
33
‐
35 35 ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/06/2011 for the course PSYCH 212 taught by Professor Dansullivan during the Spring '11 term at NYU.

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