Conclusion: The Shape of the Social Self
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To understand the significance of the life narratives in chapter 8 is to see that agency exists even when nothing of “importance” happens. It is really an effect of a mind. It is the place of meaning, not only of action. It belongs to the politically and the economically insignificant person as surely at to the powerful. Action itself, the great business that needs explanation, is intelligible only in the boundaries of meaning, in the domain of petty intentions and failures. Part of the job of history is to render embodied meaning in all its manifestations; it is to understand the human situation—all its probable potential—in a historical moment.The social self is a cultural complex, a category that enables our understanding by drawing social history and agency together. It is a powerful aide to seeing the “structuration”—in Giddens’ sense—of the world, of self and society, body and idea, person and person.
KeywordsSocial World Social History Life Narrative Great Business Absentee Landlord
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- 2.See Christopher Dyer, “Small Town Conflict in the Later Middle Ages. Events at Shipston-on-Stour,” Urban History 19 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 190.Google Scholar
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