The Development of a Postmodern Self: A Computer-Assisted Comparative Analysis of Personal Documents

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Wood and Zurcher suggest that the social self--its experience and organization--reflects the great transformation of society from industrial to postindustrial...Wood and Zurcher have contributed to our social psychological understanding of self-development in several ways. They pack information about theories of modern self-hood into a well-researched and accessible book. Readers will find a resource on theories of the postmodern self here. The authors also introduce a creative use of computerized content analysis, which they successfully demonstrate by transforming personal documents into social scientific data. Contemporary Sociology According to various observers, the postmodern self represents changes in contemporary culture--from rationality and unemotional performance to irrationality and mysticism; from institutional standards and duty-to-society to individual standards and duty-to-self; from structure and stability to transience and experimentation. Through an analysis of diaries from nineteenth- and twentieth-century Americans, this study deals with the nature of the postmodern self. It provides a framework for understanding the ideas that collectively comprise postmodern self theory and presents empirical data concerning its historical validity. The book reflects the use of a computer approach in which the statistical incidence of particular words is examined over time.