Self and Self-Concept

  • Timothy J. OwensEmail author
  • Sarah Samblanet
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


The notion of a self, or the possibility of unique personhood, has occupied human thought for millennia. Today, theory and research on the self and its more tangible manifestation—self-concept—continues to increase and to expand in new and promising directions. The assumption that self and society are co-created is also a bedrock axiom in symbolic interactionism. Recent scholarship, however, has attended more closely to defining and distinguishing among concepts related to the self and self-concept and to the mechanisms associated with their development. In this chapter we discuss the philosophical foundations of the concept of self and then address more recent theoretical and empirical refinements in self and self-concept research in the social sciences, particularly sociological social psychology. Along the way, we pay particular attention to theory and research on the self and self-concept as both a social product and a social force. Also addressed are deserving yet under-researched concepts related to the self, particularly mattering and comfort with the self. We conclude by discussing research methods used to study the self, including survey, field, and laboratory research.


Social Force Impression Management Identity Work Social Product Gender Role Conflict 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to thank Caitlin J. Peterkin for assistance in the preparation of the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyKent State UniversityKentUSA

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