The Terminal Self: Everyday Life in Hypermodern Times, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Terminal Self

Everyday Life in Hypermodern Times, 1st Edition

By Simon Gottschalk


146 pages

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Living at the dawn of a digital twenty-first century, people living in Western societies spend an increasing amount of time interacting with a terminal and interacting with others at the terminal. Because the self emerges out of interaction with others (humans and non-humans), this increasingly pervasive and mandatory interaction with terminals prompts a ‘terminal self’—a nexus of social and psychological orientations that are adjusted to the terminal logic.

In order to trace the terminal self’s profile, the book examines how five unique ‘default settings’ of the terminal incite particular adjustments in users that transform their perceptions of reality, their experiences of self, and their relations with others. Combining traditional interactionist theory, Goffman’s dramaturgy, and the French hypermodern approach, using examples from everyday life and popular culture, the book examines these adjustments, their manifestations, consequences, and resonance with broader trends of a hypermodern society organized by the ‘digital apparatus.’

Suggesting that these adjustments infantilize users, the author proposes strategies to confront three interrelated risks faced by the terminal self and society. These risks pertain to users’ subjectivity and need for recognition, to their declining abilities in face-to-face interactions, and to their dwindling abilities to retain control over terminal technologies.

An accessibly written examination of the transformation of the self in the digital age, The Terminal Self will appeal to scholars of sociology, social psychology, and cultural studies with interests in digital cultures, new technologies, social interaction, and conceptions of identity.

Table of Contents


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About the Author

Simon Gottschalk is Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and associate at the International Research Center on Hypermodern Individuals and Society. He served as editor of Symbolic Interaction from 2003 to 2007, and as president of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. Co-author of The Senses in Self, Culture and Society (Routledge 2011) and author of Inter-Face-Work: Symbolic Interaction in the Digital Age, he has published numerous articles and book chapters that develop a critical interactionist perspective on phenomena as varied as youth cultures, hypermodernism, ethnography, food, environmental identity, mass media, mental disorders, and virtual interactions.

About the Series

Interactionist Currents

Interactionist Currents
Interactionist Currents publishes contemporary interactionist works of exceptional quality to advance the state of symbolic interactionism. Rather than revisiting classical symbolic interactionist or pragmatist theory, however, this series extends the boundaries of interactionism by examining new empirical topics in subject areas that interactionists have not sufficiently examined; systematizing, organizing, and reflecting on the state of interactionist knowledge in subfields both central and novel within interactionist research; connecting interactionism with contemporary intellectual movements; and illustrating the contemporary relevance of interactionism in ways that are interesting, original, and enjoyable to read. Recognizing an honored and widely appreciated theoretical tradition, reflecting on its limitations, and opening new opportunities for the articulation of related perspectives and research agendas, this series presents work from across the social sciences that makes explicit use of interactionist ideas and concepts, interactionist research, and interactionist theory - both classical and contemporary.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General