The Saturated Self: Delimmas of Identity in Contemporary Life

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Today’s ever-expanding communications technologies force us to relate to more people and institutions than ever before, challenging the way we view ourselves and our relationships. This powerful and provocative book draws from a wide range of disciplines—from anthropology to psychoanalysis, from film and fiction to literary theory—to explore these profound changes in our understanding of self-identity and their implications for cultural and intellectual life.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
Enlightening...a brilliantly argued though disturbing book that offers an intriguing explanation for some of the more maddening and puzzling aspects of contemporary life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Social saturation'' is Gergen's term for ordinary people living with constant change, bombarded by electronic messages, open to a vast range of personal relationships. Under this sensory assault, the self as a known entity breaks down and the post-modern woman or man, cast adrift in a world of limitless possibilities, advances from the ``pastiche personality'' to the energy vortex of the ``relational self'' (``the relationship replaces the individual as the center of human action''). This dizzying scenario is anchored by a discussion of ``self-reflective'' movies and TV shows (Woody Allen, David Letterman ) , coalescing artistic genres, anthropological comparisons, deconstructivism, with examples drawn from popular culture. Swarthmore psychology professor Gergen touches raw nerves, scrutinizing unmoored selves naked to experience in this highly stimulating, mind-expanding original work which dusts away the cliches surrounding that tiresome phrase, ``the post-modern condition.'' (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465071852
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 367,056
  • Lexile: 1300L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth J. Gergen, Ph.D., is professor of psychology at Swarthmore College. He is the author of, among other works, Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge (1982) and, with co-editor John Shotter, Texts of Identity (1989).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2002

    Escaping Postmodernism

    Great book for all of those who chose isolation instead of social adaptation and for the European Minds obsessed with the ontological nature of the universe and the research of their latent self amond the shadows of the Umbra. For all of those who feel this way: 'Unlike the myriad of creatures constituting the thick mat of aggregates and constellations carpeting the sky, she was a solitary star lost in the cosmic flow. From the belt at the extreme borders of the universe, she observes the little dots of light. They are defined only within their conglomerates of constellations, their perfect yet so illusory geometry, their apparent absence of parallax. Indeed they exist only insofar as they are contained within the context of their adhesions to the matrix of stars around them. Let one of them loose and the whole group will become a cancerous mass: hyperproliferation, invasion, metastasis. An obscene outgrowth that neglects death signals; a continuous, escaping existential hypoxia ¿no need to gasp for air. As the mass hyperproliferates towards the utter confines of the galaxy, she becomes heavier and heavier- light bends and the curvature of gravity dangerously increases until pinching off from the multidimensional grid of the universe. Now she is inside a parallel universe, a microcosmos only for her.'

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