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Stranger to you and Stranger to Myself? Theorizing Self-Estrangement

The Diversity of Social Theories

ISBN: 978-0-85724-821-3, eISBN: 978-0-85724-822-0

Publication date: 12 October 2011


As a major concept in sociological theory, estrangement can be understood through a diversity of theoretical lenses. However, there is a tendency among sociologists to identify the idea of estrangement with a version of alienation. In this chapter, I counter this tendency to reduce estrangement to one of its conceptual possibilities. To provide a theoretical analysis of estrangement, I first examine the classical views of the issue. I argue that classical theories – both critical and interpretive – fail to theorize sufficiently self-estrangement, a dimension of the concept that remains underexplored. Thus, I move beyond classical sociology to reconstruct the idea of self-estrangement, drawing on more recent interpretive and critical theories, especially theories of social interaction and the self. Specifically, I discuss several interactional forms of self-estrangement, and the connection between self-estrangement, institutional contexts, emotions and the body. Finally, I consider this concept in the context of civil society. This discussion demonstrates the merits of a focus on self-estrangement applied to the study of political exclusion.


Ruiz-Junco, N. (2011), "Stranger to you and Stranger to Myself? Theorizing Self-Estrangement", Dahms, H.F. (Ed.) The Diversity of Social Theories (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 29), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 147-168.



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