CONCEIVING THE SELF by Morris Rosenberg


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One of those painstaking analyses that labors to prove, via empirical data, what most of us already suspect: that self-concept has many components, not just self-esteem; that younger children rely on parental attitudes while adolescents learn to look inward; that membership in a minority group does not, per se, assure low self-esteem; and that we prefer the company of people who like us to people who don't. Professor Rosenberg (Sociology, Univ. of Maryland) has struggled toward his findings with formal research protocols, identifying key principles of self-concept formation, following up on them consistently, and introducing information that deepens understanding of the concept--how ""significant others"" can be ranked, or how entry into junior high school intensifies doubts in early adolescence. And he does sit back at least once to get some distance from the material (""Expressed in broadest terms, with increasing age the child becomes less of a Skinnerian, more of a Freudian""). Frequently, however, the phrasing of the questions to grade school and high school populations can be challenged: ""If I asked you and your mother how good you were, and you said one thing and she said another, who would be right--you or your mother?"" And often, all that dutiful investigating merely uncovers obvious truths: ""As the child grows older, he apparently becomes increasingly conscious of economic inequality."" So: no book for parents or browsers (too many ""zero order correlations"" and ""contextual dissonances""), but for those in academic corridors, a well-conceived piece of work.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1978
Publisher: Basic Books