By Athanasia Chalari (auth.)
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Extra resources for Approaches to the Individual: The Relationship between Internal and External Conversation
However, while his research on the individual is not concerned with the individual’s inner life, Goffman’s work on roles provides an extremely valuable perception of society and the individual. His observations concerning the different kinds of roles individuals Simmel and Goffman on Internal and External Conversation 39 perform – and there may be many more kinds of roles individuals perform – are valid, but what he does not address is where these roles are derived from. As I will discuss in the last chapters, Goffman’s understanding of roles has guided me to offer an analogous view concerning the individual’s hierarchies and priorities.
However, Simmel tries to identify something more than merely the ‘norms’ that individuals follow en masse. He recognises that such normativity pivots on the individual self, that is, formed according to the way an individual interacts with herself and others. 8 In ‘Superordination and Subordination’ (1950: 190–224), Simmel notes that domination is designed to break the internal resistance of the subjugated, whereas egoism usually aims only at victory over her external resistance. In addition, Simmel posits that, even in the most oppressive and cruel cases of subordination, there is still a considerable measure of personal freedom.
These regulations and formulae are forms that operate outside the individual and her inner life. They can thus be described as external forms. In order to be more precise, we should link these forms within society: individuals must follow such external forms in order to externalise or verbalise elements of their inner life (the prime example of this would be the formulation and use of language). Yet, as Simmel observes, these formulae have limitations, and thus inner life 28 Theoretical Background cannot be fully expressed or fully shared with other individuals.