The construction of self: The public reach into the private sphere

Butt, Trevor and Langdridge, Darren (2003). The construction of self: The public reach into the private sphere. Sociology, 37(3) pp. 477–494.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00380385030373005

Abstract

The public/private debate has not been a major feature in recent sociological theory. However, Bailey (2000) has argued for a renewed sociological research programme to focus on the sociological private. He outlines three dimensions of this: intimate relationships, the self and the unconscious. This article seeks to address two of these dimensions, the production of self-theories and unconscious dis-avowal. We extend this theorizing to account for the experience of sexual engagement, and present a discourse analysis of the diaries of the comedian and actor Kenneth Williams (1928-1988). Drawing principally on the thought of Merleau-Ponty (1962) we argue that our analysis demonstrates the importance of a pre-reflective engagement with the social world that is then reflected on in internal dialogue. We show how discourse analysis may be used to demonstrate the dis-cursive production of a self-theory and the role of such a self-theory in the dis-avowal of the principal's pre-reflective engagement with others.

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