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...

Utilizing theories for and against symbolic interactionism, this paper looks at the similarities and differences in which Bryant's experience has altered his image not only as a basketball player, but also mainly as an individual interacting with his society. Furthermore, symbolic interactionism as a sociological discipline shows how social realities are given meaning through social interaction between the individual and the society, as well as among the people within the society. Using the case study of basketball player Kobe Bryant, this paper studies in detail information regarding Bryant's transformation (as he faces charges of sexual molestation) from being an athlete to being a believer of God, a "responsible" and "good" man. l scientists study the interaction, meaning, and significance of social actions and experiences to the society in general. George Herbert Mead, in relating social experience as a sensory experience, also illustrates Cooley's theory of the "looking-glass self. Society, although not always physically manifested, is influential 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 his self is influenced and shape by what society thinks about the individual. In Bryant's case, his act of tattooing his family's names and religious symbols show how he wants to perceive himself as a good individual, since he knows that society does not think well of him right now because of the charges filed against him. Mainly a man who is athletic and preoccupied with his sport and profession, Bryant gradually became family-and God-centered, focusing his time with his family apart from playing professional basketball. Thus, his social act of explicitly displaying his love for his family and God is an act defiance, to disprove to the society negative notions about his character. Furthermore, he bought his wife a 4 million diamond ring and has become a staunch believer, even messenger, of God's good news, since his teammates claim that Bryant often talks about God. Bryant's case illustrates how through social actions and symbols, he attempts to generate an image that is in contrast to what the media and society had been portraying to the public since the rape charges had been filed against him. The "I" image of Bryant show him as a family- and God-centered man, while the "Me" or derived Self mirrors society's perceptions about him as a sexual offender. Thus, society becomes the individual's source or reference by which the individual molds his character and image that he presents to the public.