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Looking Glass Self and Front Region
The looking glass self is a concept used in sociology that focuses on the way an individual’s self develops. Thus, it is believed that the way people see themselves is affected by the way others see them. In other words, people’s identity depends on the way other individuals see them. The term was coined by Charles Horton Cooley (Nurra & Pansu 248). According to the researcher, significant others’ feedback has a great impact on the way identities are constructed (Nurra & Pansu 248). Remarkably, the looking glass self consists of three stages. Hence, a person thinks about the way other people see him/her. Then, the individual imagines other persons’ judgments. Finally, the person feels happiness, shame, misery, guilt and so on.
Importantly, the way people see themselves shapes their behavior. It is possible to note that the concept of the looking glass self is closely associated with the notion of the front region. The front region is the term that refers to the way people present themselves in the society (Chen 61). It is often associated with unreal selves as people often try to behave and look in the way appropriate in this or that society. Their real identities (or features) are sometimes concealed. This concept was created by Giddens, who developed Goffman’s dramaturgical approach (Chen 61).
It is important to note that the looking glass self and the front region appear early in people’s lives. Young children start paying attention to the way they or their behavior is perceived (or rather judged) by others (Rochat, Broesch and Jayne 1492). Children also start shaping their behavior to develop a favorable image in their families, classes and so on.
My Dear Friend
Apparently, all people (including myself) take into account other people’s views on them and try to shape their behavior accordingly. Nonetheless, it is easier to analyze these concepts when other people are involved. Hence, I will consider the two concepts based on my friend’s character and behavior. To ensure anonymity, the friends’ name will be Jane.
When I met Jane, I saw her as a young empowered female who had a bad experience in relationship with men. She has told to everyone that her hobbies are foreign languages, travelling, sports. I am quite an active person, and I used to stress how good her features of character were. However, when I got to know Jane, I saw her true colors. The studies of a foreign language turned out to be a start of a course in Spanish and further ‘attempts’ to study it on her own. As to travelling, she went to Mexico twice (to the same location) and went to only a few cities across the country. Those were visits to her relatives. As for sports, she goes to a gym and a swimming pool from time to time.
At the same time, she posts various pictures in a number of social networks (including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter). The photos and her posts still create an image of an active person. Interestingly, when she saw my disapproval she tried to study harder or do some sports. However, soon she started avoiding me. Now, we barely communicate (using social networks). I have also noticed that Jane has started posting photos where she wears brand clothes, or carries brand accessories.
It is possible to analyze my findings using my sociological imagination. The concept of sociological imagination was developed by Wright Mills, and it refers to the ability to translate certain personal issues into broader contexts (Giulianotti 236). The researcher also introduced such concepts as the personal trouble and public issue. The former refers to particular issues a person experiences on the individual level. This can be difficulties in relationships with other people, inability to satisfy one’s needs (ambitions), desire to live a life other people do and so on. The latter is associated with problems a large group of people faces. For example, unemployment is one of the conventional examples of a public issue.
It is noteworthy that personal troubles are closely connected with public issues and can even shape the way the entire society develops. For instance, people’s desire to fit particular standards can lead to healthcare issues and economic losses of the state. Thus, contemporary beauty standards are associated with the development of eating disorders that have become widespread.
When it comes to my friend Jane, it is possible to note that the concepts of the looking glass self and front region have resulted in her personal trouble. Thus, she appears to be an entirely different person when a person starts communicating with her for an extended period. She had an unpleasant experience with a man who broke up with her. At present, she is lonely and mistrustful. She cannot communicate with men, and she cannot create a family. She has addressed a therapist, and Jane has to take pills. Her psychological state has had a negative impact on her work as she is reluctant to work as hard as she used to. This is her personal trouble.
However, inadequate presentation of selves also leads to some public issues. One of these issues is the development of such health conditions as depression. Individuals’ image of selves and their true identities are often very different. The development of technology and the growing role of media in people’s lives aggravates the situation. People often seek for appraisal and are ready to behave in particular ways to get it in the digital world (Jones 101).
Importantly, the anonymity of the digital world enables people to create identities that are far from being real (Manago et al. 447). Thus, millions of people try to fit standards created rather than focus on finding their real selves and their roles in this world.
They become depressed, and they also stop their development. As has been mentioned above, this leads to additional expenditure in the sphere of healthcare as people feel depressed, and they develop such conditions as cardiovascular disorders. These people are less efficient employees and less active members of the society. Furthermore, specific models are created in the society, and people are trying to change to fit the images created. However, these images are often unnatural and superficial. Cultural development of the society can acquire very specific traits that will lead the humanity in the dead-end.
Fortunately, it is possible to reduce the public issue and personal trouble. Although Jane does not see a way out and prefers taking pills, it is possible to develop an efficient plan to address her personal trouble. First, she needs to spend less time online. She should also visit the therapist who will help her identify her real self as well as her true needs. This will enable Jane to come up with a strategy to satisfy her needs. She has to present her real self or, at least, she cannot try to create the image that is so far from her real self. When meeting men, she should be more sincere as she should understand that men become disappointed, and this is why they leave. She should try to find a man who will seek for features she has.
As far as the public issue is concerned, it requires a holistic approach. Such spheres as education, healthcare and media should be involved. Obviously, educators should set such values as sincerity, personal development, and growth. Healthcare professionals have to tell people about risks associated with media abuse. Apparently, media will play the central role in this process. The contemporary standards of fashion and beauty and people’s obsession with them as well as the focus on material things rather than spiritual aspects has to be analyzed, discussed and even ridiculed. It can be a good idea to explain what the concepts addressed in this paper mean.
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People should be aware of the human need to create an image suitable for the society they live in. However, they should also understand all the outcomes of the front region they develop. The media have to set values that will lead to the overall development of the society. People should focus on self-growth, technological, scientific and cultural development, and so on. This is a lasting and complex but necessary project.
Chen, Rita. Early Childhood Identity: Construction, Culture, & the Self. New York: Peter Lang, 2009. Print.
Giulianotti, Richard. “A Sporting Chance? Notes on an Ongoing Career in the Sociology of Sport.” Sociologists’ Tales: Contemporary Narratives on Sociological Thought and Practice. Ed. Katherine Twamley, Mark Doidge and Andrea Scott. Chicago: Policy Press, 2015. 235-243. Print.
Jones, Julie M. “The Looking Glass Lens: Self-Concept Changes Due to Social Media Practices.” The Journal of Media in Society 4.1 (2015): 100-125. Print.
Manago, Adriana M., Michael B. Graham, Patricia M. Greenfield, Goldie Salimkhan. “Self-Presentation and Gender on MySpace.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 29.1 (2008): 446-458. Print.
Nurra, Cecile and Pascal Pansu. “The Impact of Significant Others’ Actual Appraisals on Children’s Self-Perceptions: What about Cooley’s Assumption for Children.” European Journal of Psychology of Education XXIV.2 (2009): 247-262. Print.
Rochat, Philippes, Tanya Broesch and Katherine Jayne. “Social Awareness and Early Self-Recognition.” Consciousness and Cognition 21.1 (2012): 1491-1497. Print.