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Has Narcissism triumphed over social solidarity?

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Introduction

Has Narcissism triumphed over social solidarity? The specific definition of Narcissism is - complete self-love, as first highlighted by Freud as a stage of child development. But, for the purpose of social study Giddens gives a more applicable and relevant definition. ' Narcissism relates outside events to the needs and desires of the self, asking only 'what this means to me' (Giddens, 1991 p170) In terms of social solidarity the idea of living solely for 'the self' is in flat contradiction to the work ethics and family bonds with which social solidarity is sustained. Again with Giddens, 'Social bonds and engagements increasingly thereafter recede in favour of an endless and obsessive preoccupation with social identity' (Giddens, 1991 p170) In terms of development of 'the self' as a popularised concept, the enlightenment - and the birth of the individual - can be cited as a starting point. Around the 18c, evidence can be found to support the rise of individual thought. - I.e. Ideas that go against that which is generally excepted. The rise of the novel and the consequent development of the character, with depth and essence, particularly in novels by Defoe and Austen, give us an indication of the move towards individualism. ...read more.

Middle

has dissolved in favour of a 'live for the moment' ethos. This is another social condition created by the 'formation of a secular, capitalistic urban culture' (Giddens, 1991 p170) which has created feelings in the individual, forcing them to seek out feelings of identity and security within the private sphere (the self) as oppose to the public. It is the 'transformations which ushered in modernity [tearing] the individual free from its stable moorings in traditions and structures' (Hall, 1994 p121) which induces the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty which ultimately drive the individual to seek satisfaction from the self. An socio-economic effect of this process was the 'death public space' (Sennett in Giddens 1991 p170). This idea is touched upon further by urbanist Walter Benjamin, he talks of the individual within the public space 'behaving as though he is a stranger to the destiny of all others / He exists only in himself for himself' (Benjamin in Sennett 1994 p323). Perhaps Benjamin did not pay enough attention to the link between behaviour and effects of social and economic factors on the individual. The individual is a 'stranger to the destiny of all others' because if he/she wasn't, then they would no longer be an individual, they would be part of a greater whole. ...read more.

Conclusion

people, gained identity and a sense of community, from being part of that group, to a much more complex system which 'Has derived from a quite specific changes in our society and culture - from bureaucracy, the proliferation of images, therapeutic ideologies, the rationalisation of the inner life, the cult of consumption and changes in family life' (Lasch, 1979 p44) Social solidarity now exists as collective narcissism - 'mutual indifference' (Benjamin in Sennett 1994, p323) Baudrillard, J (1983) 'In the Shadows of the Silent Majority', USA: Autonomedia Baudrillard, J (1994) 'The Masses: The Implosion of The Social in The Media' in Polity Reader in Cultural Theory, Cambridge: Polity Press. Brock, R (1994) 'The Emergence of Consumer Society' in Polity Reader in Cultural Theory, Cambridge: Polity Press Giddens, A (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity - Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Cambridge: Polity Press. Hall, S (1994) 'The Question of Cultural Identity' Polity Reader in Cultural Theory, Cambridge: Polity Press Hebdige, G (1979) 'Music for Pleasure' in Epstein, J (ed) Youth Culture - Identity in a Post-modern World, London: Blackwell. Lasch, C (1979) The Culture of Narcissism - American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations, New York: Norton Sennatt, R (1994) Flesh and Stone - The Body and the City in Western Civilisation ?? ?? ?? ?? 3 1 ...read more.

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