The Self Symposium

The aim of the symposium is to provide the participants with an up-to-date understanding of how the social is part of, and is reflected in, the self.
Brain. Picture: Aalto University.

In social science and philosophy, there is increasing awareness of the importance of the politics of self and identity. Many contemporary social conflicts do not primarily concern material assets or power relations as such, but rather revolve around recognition of individual and social identities: whether or not the socio-political processes acknowledge the intrinsic value of social and individual identities in terms of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc. 

This symposium is an interdisciplinary exploration of self and identity. Scholars from humanities, social sciences, biology and psychology will search common grounds in understanding human self-experiences.  One line of research that will be addressed is Social Identity Theory. Social identity is the part of an individual’s sense of who they are based on experienced membership in various social groups. Social Identity Theory predicts an individual’s behaviour on the base of group memberships and the legitimacy and stability of the membership. 

Another key research line of the symposium will involve the intertwinement of self and interaction. In his seminal work, Erving Goffman suggested that self-image is involved in all social interaction. Participants in all social encounters make direct and indirect claims regarding who and what they are; these self-images need continuous reworking and protection.  

The symposium will provide the participants with an up-to-date understanding of the many faces of the self and identity research. Classical theoretical questions will meet contemporary empirical research in various disciplines.

The Self Symposium

The online symposium is organized by the Aalto University and the University of Helsinki.

Read more on Aalto Sites


All times are in Finnish time (EET, UTC+2).

Thursday 11 November 2021

14.00 – 14.15: OPENING REMARKSMikko Sams and Anssi Peräkylä

14.15 – 15.00: Historical and cultural variation in the selfUlrike Steinert, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany

​ 15.00 – 15.45: How Recognition from Others shapes The SelfArto Laitinen, University of Tampere, Finland

​ 15.45 – 16.45:1 hour Break

16.45 – 17.30: The (Group) Self in (Collective) Action: On the special relationship between social identity and morality in the context of activism and social changeMartijn Van Zomeren, University of Gröningen, The Netherlands

17.30 – 18.15: ​ The self in infancy and beyond Philippe Rochat, Emory University, USA

18.15 – 18.30:15 min Break

18.30 – 19.15: Threats to the self in social interactionAnssi Peräkylä, University of Helsinki, Finland

Friday 12 November 2021

12.00 – 12.45: The socially distributed selfDan Zahavi, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

12.45 – 13.30: Taking the pulse of social cognition : interoception, self-awareness and alteroceptionMano Tsakiris, University of London, UK 

13.30 – 14.30:1 hour Break

14.30 – 15.15: Agency, territories, and boundaries of the self in joint decision makingMelisa Stevanovic, Tampere University, Finland​

15.15 – 16.00: Invoking the biographical self as therapist’s resource in psychodynamic
Arnulf Deppermann, Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache, Germany 

16.00 – 16.15:15 min Break

16.15 – 17.00: Disturbances of self in Personality Disorders Elsa Ronningstam, Harvard Medical School, USA

17.00 – 18.00: Concluding and critical notes on selfHenrik Enckell, PhD, Docent, Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in private practice

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