The Interaction between the Self and the Society: A Case Study on Kobe Bryants New Image

Length: 3 Pages 857 Words

In sociology, the concept of social reality is simply expressed and defined as the interaction of the individual or the Self with his/her surrounding, the person's "reality" as s/he perceives it. For a social reality to become real, there must be interaction and existence between the individual and the society. Although not manifested physically, the society interacts with the individual in numerous ways, shaping the way s/he thinks and perceives his/her Self. Interaction between the individual and society, indeed, determines one of the most important studies on sociology—that is, how the members of the society construct and give meaning to their social realities as they experience and perceive it. The dynamic process of the social experience is mirrored in the sociological tradition of symbolic interactionism, which studies the behavior of the individuals and societies through observation and description. In symbolic interactionism, people's appearance, gestures, and language serve as representations, or symbols, that people use when they interact in social situations. Through this method, social experience and meaning are developed both by the individual and by the society, enabling socia Continue...

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Utilizing theories forand against symbolic interactionism, this paper looks at the similaritiesand differences in which Bryant's experience has altered his image not onlyas a basketball player, but also mainly as an individual interacting withhis society. Furthermore, symbolicinteractionism as a sociological discipline shows how social realities aregiven meaning through social interaction between the individual and thesociety, as well as among the people within the society. Using the case study of basketball player Kobe Bryant, this paperstudies in detail information regarding Bryant's transformation (as hefaces charges of sexual molestation) from being an athlete to being abeliever of God, a "responsible" and "good" man. l scientists study the interaction, meaning, and significanceof social actions and experiences to the society in general. George Herbert Mead, in relating social experience as a sensoryexperience, also illustrates Cooley's theory of the "looking-glass self. Society, although not always physically manifested, isinfluential in shaping the individual and the society because the society"provides a center around which to crystallize our sentiments" (Collins,1994:254). This theory, proposed by Charles Colley, is the theory of the "looking-glass self," where the posits that an individual's perception about hisself is influenced and shape by what society thinks about the individual. In Bryant's case, his act of tattooing his family's names and religioussymbols show how he wants to perceive himself as a good individual, sincehe knows that society does not think well of him right now because of thecharges filed against him. Mainly a man who is athletic and preoccupied with his sport andprofession, Bryant gradually became family-and God-centered, focusing histime with his family apart from playing professional basketball. Thus, his social act of explicitly displayinghis love for his family and God is an act defiance, to disprove to thesociety negative notions about his character. Furthermore, he bought his wife a 4 million diamond ring andhas become a staunch believer, even messenger, of God's good news, sincehis teammates claim that Bryant often talks about God. Bryant's case illustrates how through social actions and symbols, heattempts to generate an image that is in contrast to what the media andsociety had been portraying to the public since the rape charges had beenfiled against him. The "I" image of Bryantshow him as a family- and God-centered man, while the "Me" or derived Selfmirrors society's perceptions about him as a sexual offender. Thus, society becomes the individual's source or reference by which theindividual molds his character and image that he presents to the public.


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