Anthony Giddens on the mediated self

1. Localities are thoroughly penetrated by distanciated influences, whether this be regarded as a cause for concern or simply accepted as a routine part of social life. All individuals actively, although by no means always in a conscious way, selectively incorporate many elements of mediated experience into their day-to-day conduct…  For even the most prejudiced or narrow-minded person, the regularised contact with mediated information inherent in day-to-day life today is a positive appropriation: a mode of interpreting information within the routines of daily life.

2. (Unification versus fragmentation) In most pre-modern contexts, the fragmentation of experience was not a prime source of anxiety. Trust relations were localised and focused through personal ties, even if intimacy in the modern sense was generally lacking…

(Powerlessness versus appropriation) In many pre-modern contexts, individuals (and humanity as a whole) were more powerless…The hold of tradition, for example, was often more or less unchallengeable…Pre-modern kinship systems, for example, were often quite rigid, and offered the individual little scope for independent action…

(Authority versus uncertainty) The strength of pre-modern forms of authority could almost be understood as a response to the very unpredictability of daily life and to the number of influences felt to be outside human control. Religious authorities in particular quite often cultivated the feeling that individuals were surrounded by threats and dangers–since only the religious official was in a position to be able either to understand or to seek successfully to control these. Religious authority created mysteries while simultaneously claiming to have privileged access to them…

(Personalised versus commodified experience) Mediated experience is centrally involved here…The form is what matters rather than the content…

From Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991, pp. 187-201.


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