Social constructionists argue that our inner selves and our actions in the world are socially produced. Meta-realists, on the other hand, say that human consciousness is stratified, and not socially shaped at all levels. How do the human acts of creativity and resistance illuminate these different perspectives on human consciousness? This book explores theories of self and agency through a critical discourse analysis of the accounts of five British artists talking about their motivations, their creative processes and their experiences of the practices and institutions of visual art. Throughout the analysis the author considers how we voice dimensions of being that are ‘beyond’ language, and how these words impact on our sense of self and actions. The concept of self realisation is at the centre of this book and is critically examined. The analysis also explores the construction of social identities through family relations and institutional art practices and the media. It shows how they can provide solidarity for those who risk breaking social norms, but at the same time build barriers of difference.
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2008. 220 pp., 2 coloured ill.
Contents: Social labels and inner needs: constructionist theories of identity and fragmented self – Language and the layering
of consciousness: the British artists Dave, Dee, Frank, Polly and Sam’s talk about the creative processes and meta-reality
theory – The emotional dimension of being, cultural constructions and creative commitment – The production of difference and
solidarity through the visual art practices of education and galleries and media discourse – Constructing time and space for
self within personal relations – Locating the boundaries of self and other: self realisation and interdependence.