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Institutional Selves

Troubled Identities in a Postmodern World

Edited by Jaber F. Gubrium and James A. Holstein

Publication Date - 03 August 2000

ISBN: 9780195129281

208 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Today, identities are created and selves are constructed in more organizational settings than ever before. Institutions large and small-from psychiatric hospitals, schools, and prisons to job clinics, counseling centers, and support groups-are virtually in the business of self construction. New institutions not only produce new forms of identity by presenting additional options for who and what we are but also place practical limits on the range of possible selves we can be.
Institutional Selves acknowledges the socially practical self we live by. It brings together nine distinctive chapters that collectively address the institutional construction of troubled identities. From the victims and villains of television talk shows, to battered women in support groups, to the violent selves of prison inmates, this book illustrates how selves are organizationally informed and structured in institutional practice. The institutional construction of selves is an especially interesting issue as social problems, their causes, and their victims are endlessly reinterpreted by the various organizations devoted to helping resolve associated troubles. This book deals with fundamental and complex issues in a well-illustrated, multi-faceted manner. It provides common vocabulary that offers students a consistent language for discussing the construction of troubled identities. The style of the book is accessible and appropriate to a wide range of undergraduate students in sociology. The book neither "talks down" to the novice nor strains the patience of more experienced researchers. It can be used to lay the foundation for discussion of how the self is constructed in today's world by linking the social psychology of the self to the organizational processing of deviance and social problems.

Table of Contents

    Notes on Contributors
    Introduction: Trying Times, Troubles Selves
    Part I: Institutional Identities
    Victims, Villains, and Talk Show Selves, Kathleen S. Lowney and James A. Holstein
    Doubled Over in Laughter: Humor and the Construction of Selves in Alcoholics Anonymous, Melvin Pollner and Jill Stein
    Changing the Subject: Self-Construction in Brief Therapy, Gale Miller
    Self-Empowerment in Two Therapeutic Communities, Darin Weinberg
    Part II: Constructing Institutional Selves
    Lived Realities and Formula Stories of "Battered Women", Donileen R. Loseke
    Contested Selves in Divorce Proceedings, Joseph Hopper
    Universities as Discursive Environments for Sexual Identity Construction, Susan E. Chase
    Self-Presentation and Organizational Processing in a Human Service Agency, J. William (Jack) Spencer
    Self-Change and Resistance in Prison, Kathryn J. Fox
    Author Index
    Subject Index