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People have a basic need to maintain the integrity of the self, a global sense of personal adequacy. Events that threaten self-integrity arouse stress and self-protective defenses that can hamper performance and growth. However, an intervention known as self-affirmation can curb these negative outcomes. Self-affirmation interventions typically have people write about core personal values. The self-concept is undergoing something of a renaissance in contemporary social psychology. It has, of course, been a central concept within symbolic interactionism since the seminal writings of Mead (1934), Cooley (1902), and James (1890). However, even within this sociological tradition there has been a revitalization of interest in the self-concept: with developments in role theory, with the increasing focus on the concept of identity, with the reemergence of interest in social structure and personality, and with the reconceptualization of small group experimental situation. m). Identity focuses on the meanings comprising the self as an object, gives structure and content to self-concept, and anchors the self to social systems. Self-esteem deals with the evaluative and emotional dimensions of the self-concept. In experience these two aspects of the self-concept are closely interrelated: Self-evaluation’s are typically based on substantive aspects of self-concept, and identities typically have evaluative components. Within social psychology these two dimensions involve largely separate literature.

Self and Social Change focuses the developments and trends in self-concept theory and research within social psychology. It offers a thorough, informed and critical guide to the field. It demonstrates how global economic and employment structures, neo-liberal discourse, the role of emotion, irrationality, and ambiguity are factors that impact upon the shape and resilience of the self. Concern with the personal self and issues of personal identity as an explanatory frame for understanding social behavior dominates theoretical accounts and empirical work even when group processes and intergroup relations are the object of investigation. A central point of departure in the social identity approach is that the impact of social groups on the way people see themselves and others around them cannot be understood without taking into consideration the broader social context in which they function. Further developments in the self-categorization tradition have elaborated on more immediate social contextual factors that may influence self-definitions and identity concerns. It will appeal to students and practitioners in Cultural Studies, Sociology, Social Psychology, and Communications.