Review Of "Social Selves: Theories Of The Social Formation Of Personality" By I. Burkitt

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Although scholars recognize the need for alternatives to the long dominant concept of the self-contained individual, little progress has been made toward such development. Burkitt's lucid book provides an essential prolegomenon to such a project. After a brief historical look at the monadic view of self and its shortcomings, he undertakes a systematic discussion of major 20th-century theories offering means of understanding the self as inextricably linked to others. Burkitt offers a discerning discussion of the foundational works of Mead and Vygotsky; he moves effectively into the present with a lively though limited account of micro-social and post-structural theory. A chapter on Marx's relevance to the problem of the social self, particularly as amplified through Lucien Seve's work, is a refreshing addition to the dialogue. The volume would have been greatly enriched by discussions of Martin Buber's Ich und du (I and thou), (1923) and John Macmurray (Persons in Relation, 1957), along with explorations of object relations theory and works of Mikhail Bakhtin. And too, the discussion of the intellectual predeccesors culminates in an all too sketchy, and heavily Marxist, synthesis. However, the volume is essential reading for anyone concerned with this challenging problem. Advanced undergraduates and above.


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