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One of the challenge points on the Better World Books 2017 Reading […]
Diane Rothbard Margolis
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"Margolis's grasp of the complexities of selfhood in contemporary life is a key contribution of her work. She takes us on a fascinating and readable excursion in social theory". -- John P. Hewitt, author of Dilemmas of the American Self
Ways of viewing the self change when social environments change, argues Diane Rothbard Margolis in this powerful work of social theory. She analyzes six views of the self found in contemporary Western cultures and shows how each plays a critical role in society and in our everyday lives. Each image of the self is a moral construct expressing what is forbidden, allowed, and expected. Each was created at a historical moment that demanded a new assessment of fight and wrong. No moral orientation is, in absolute terms, better or worse than any other, Margolis contends; each continues to exist because it permits or demands some form of action required by contemporary society.
Although the idea of the self as an individualistic "exchanger" -- rational, self-interested, competitive -- may dominate current discourse, especially in market economies, Margolis describes other constructs: the obligated self, the cosmic self, the reciprocating self, the called person, and the civic self. She delineates the moral ideas from which these images arise and develops a theory of emotions to explain how we live by several moral orientations simultaneously. Her perspective on moral orientations andemotions illuminates such contemporary dilemmas as why women and men may play the same social role quite differently, why women encounter the glass ceiling, and why nationalism persists despite the growth of world markets.
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