The Looking Glass Self

...and a Critical Corollary
by David H. Kessel

LOOKING-GLASS Charles Horton Cooley

There are three stages of the LGS:

1. We imagine how we seem or appear to others

2. We imagine how we are judged by others after concluding #1

3. We experience a feeling or some type of reaction to #1 and #2
-----at least sometimes (often?) behave accordingly

Thus, we carry on a self-evaluating conversation with ourselves
-----we respond to ourselves in the same way others might respond to us
-----"taking the role of the other toward ourselves"

Thus, our self-image, self-worth, self-esteem can be seen as derived from our social context (i.e. norms)


The standards used in #2...against which we are imagining ourselves being judged...are a critical point in the process
-----if we do not agree with or simply reject these standards...or realize they are in someone else's interests...we can influence the process of the LGS

I.O.W....knowing that these standards are not the only ones by which to evaluate ourselves...we can free ourselves from this process.
-----which often times works on us unconsciously...until we are aware of what's happening

THUS: Stage #2 can be an "effective point of intervention" (C. Wright Mills) for the individual in an effort to counter the effect of Structure on us
-----Stage #3 will effectively be negated as an automatic response.

Apparently, even without knowing exactly what's happening to us, some people have been able to overcome the need for this type of validation.

The LGS provides a mechanism by which our sense of "self" is created in the social arena...our social self.

The Corollary provides us with an understanding that our Core (authentic) Self can emerge by countering the effect of the LGS.