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The Importance of Authenticity for Self and Society

Rebecca J. Erickson
Symbolic Interaction
Vol. 18, No. 2 (Summer 1995), pp. 121-144
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
DOI: 10.1525/si.1995.18.2.121
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/si.1995.18.2.121
Page Count: 24
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The Importance of Authenticity for Self and Society
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Abstract

The transition from industrial to postindustrial society and from modern to postmodern culture has led to increased interest in authenticity. Such interest is widespread not only among those studying changes in social structure and culture but also among those who adhere to the social psychological tenet that self reflects society, and society, the self. In this article, I specify how issues of authenticity have become a pervasive part of our culture, our institutions, and our individual selves. Building on both Rosenberg and Turner, I conceptualize authenticity in terms of a commitment to self-values. The relevance of this conceptualization is illustrated, first by demonstrating its implications for identity theory and second through its implicit use by others writing about the contemporary experience of being oneself. I conclude with a discussion of how this approach to authenticity may be used by social scientists to better conceptualize self in a way that explicitly incorporates the cultural implications of today's postindustrial society.

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