By Susie Scott (auth.)
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Rose 1990). In the RI, there is greater ambiguity over where the prior self ends and the new self begins, or where the boundary lies between the individual and their institutional arrangements. The reinvented self is part of these arrangements, not only as an emergent product but as an integral part of its operative mechanisms. Furthermore, insofar as RIs cultivate self-governed cultures of conformity, we shall see how the dispersed, reticulated gaze of peer surveillance can be no less powerful than TI regimens in determining the fate of inmates.
Gone is the idea of stability and ﬁxity, and in its place we ﬁnd theories of fragmentation, uncertainty and anxiety. The psychic structure of the self is said to have undergone a radical transformation in response to changes in the cultural climate of Western societies, particularly secularisation, Weberian rationalism and disenchantment, and the rise of individualism. Reviewing this literature, Gubrium & Holstein (2001) make a distinction between modernist theories, which point to an essential, inner self that can be invaded, colonised or threatened but may be rebuilt, and postmodernist theories, which suggest that there is no underlying self, only fragmented, multiple identity performances, leaving us to construct an entirely new self.
An important feature of life within the RI is the participants’ understanding and representation of this process to themselves and others. We can contrast this to the moral career of Goffman’s TI inmate, who was aware only of being controlled by others, and positioned themselves as victims, secure in their private authenticity. The RI inmate faces a more complex task in having to make sense of their own decision that they are ﬂawed in some way, and that reinvention is needed. They must engage in biographical identity work (Gubrium & Holstein 1995), by reﬂecting upon and ordering their life experiences into a coherent self-narrative that creates meaning out of adversity, ambivalence or confusion.
Total Institutions and Reinvented Identities by Susie Scott (auth.)