Tom R. Burns & Erik Engdahl: 
THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS -

A socio-cultural perspective on language based consciousness.

Tom R. Burns, Uppsala Theory Circle, Department of Sociology, P.O.Box 821, University of Uppsala, SE-751 08 Uppsala, Sweden.
E-mail: tom.burns@soc.uu.se.

Erik Engdahl, Department of Quantum Chemistry, P.O.Box 518, University of Uppsala, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden.
E-mail: erik.engdahlREMOVE.THESE.FOUR.WORDS@spray.se.
Entry URL of web pages: http://www.erikengdahl.se/.

This  paper, published 1998 in Journal of Consciousness Studies, which is divided into Part 1 and Part 2, develops a theoretical framework with which to conceptualize and analyze different types and levels of human awareness and consciousess.



THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS -
Part 1: Collective Consciousness and Its Socio-Cultural Foundations.

Published in Journal of Consciousness Studies 5(1), 67-85(1998). See above for the authors and their addresses.

                                           Abstract(slightly obsolete)

This first part argues that the problem of consciousness can be approached systematically by focusing first on the collective basis and manifestations of consciousness. A theoretical approach is outlined providing conceptual tools on which to define and analyze collective agents and collective representation and collective reflectivity. A simple model of the levels and objects of collective consciousness is formulated. Collective consciousness emerges as a function of a language community whose members produce and make use of collective representations. They name, classify, carry on dialogues, develop discourses about collective selves ("we", our group, orgnization, or nation). That is, members conceptualize and discuss among themselves the "collective" as an entity, as an agent that has institutionalized values and goals, decides, acts, that has relationships to other agents. Thus, the members of the collective in their common dialogues and discourse can reflect on the collective itself, its properties, its previous judgments and actions, and its future plans.


THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS -
Part 2:  Individual Selves, Self-Awareness, and Reflectivity.

Published in Journal of Consciousness Studies 5(2), 166-84(1998). See above for the authors and their addresses.

                                          Abstract(slightly obsolete)

Part Two of the paper conceptualizes the individual self as a collective representation and as an object of collective reflection and discourse. Individual consciousness is a natural outcome of the development of collective naming, classifying, judging, reflection, and the conduct of dialogues and discourses about defined objects -- where such objects may be group members or participants in collective activities. A participant learns in the collective context (in line with George Herbert Meads earlier formulations) a naming and classification of herself (a self-description and identity), of her judgments, actions, and predispositions. In acquiring a language and conceptual framework for this -- along with experience and skills in reflective discussion -- she acquires a capability of inner reflection and dialogue about self. These language-grounded processes are what we mean here by individual consciousness. They are the basis for internally organized reflectivity and inner dialogues, that is key features of individual consciousness. The analysis goes on to examine multiple modes of individual awareness and consciousness, suggesting the complexity of mental life. Levels of individual consciousness are discussed, distinguishing awareness from consciousness proper, and also identifying pre- and un-conscious levels.


Comments and suggestions to Erik Engdahl

with e-mail address erik.engdahlREMOVE.THESE.FOUR.WORDS@spray.se
and entry of his web pages http://www.erikengdahl.se/.
Last modified on 23 Sep. 2007.