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Rahel Jaeggi

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231151986

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231151986.001.0001

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“A Pale, Incomplete, Strange, Artificial Man”

“A Pale, Incomplete, Strange, Artificial Man”

Social Roles and the Loss of Authenticity

(p.68) 6 “A Pale, Incomplete, Strange, Artificial Man”

Rahel Jaeggi

, Frederick Neuhouser, Alan E. Smith
Columbia University Press

This chapter examines behavior in social roles as a form of inauthenticity and under what conditions being immersed in certain social relations manifests itself as self-alienation. More specifically, it considers the extent to which certain forms of role behavior represent cases of self-alienation, even if the absence of alienation cannot be understood as a condition existing prior to or outside sociality—as a condition in which one is a “human being in general” behind all social roles. Its main thesis is that self-alienation is a symptom that emerges in the absence of (the possibility of) appropriating roles; what is alienating is not roles per se but the impossibility of adequately articulating oneself in them. The chapter begins with some examples to demarcate the problem and contrast it with other phenomena. It then analyzes the concept of a role as it is used both in sociological theory and in everyday usage, as well as the assumption that roles are inherently alienating. It also discusses the notion that roles are constitutive for the development of individuality, the various aspects of role behavior, and the distinction between alienating and nonalienating roles or between alienated and unalienated role behavior.

Keywords:   role behavior, social role, inauthenticity, social relations, self-alienation, alienation, sociality, sociological theory, individuality

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