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The Importance of Authenticity for Self and Society

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Abstract

The transition from industrial to postindustrial society and from modern to postmodern culture has led to increased interest in authenticity. Such interest is widespread not only among those studying changes in social structure and culture but also among those who adhere to the social psychological tenet that self reflects society, and society, the self. In this article, I specify how issues of authenticity have become a pervasive part of our culture, our institutions, and our individual selves. Building on both Rosenberg and Turner, I conceptualize authenticity in terms of a commitment to self-values. The relevance of this conceptualization is illustrated, first by demonstrating its implications for identity theory and second through its implicit use by others writing about the contemporary experience of being oneself. I conclude with a discussion of how this approach to authenticity may be used by social scientists to better conceptualize self in a way that explicitly incorporates the cultural implications of today's postindustrial society.
... Like Vannini and Franzese (2008), Erickson (1995) acknowledges a relationship between authenticity and personal values, conceptualizing authenticity as a commitment to self-values. Erickson does not regard authenticity as something that one does or does not possess but proposes that one is more or less authentic. ...
... With this in view, participants' dress and appearance choices were made to balance what were oftentimes conflicting identity goals, including the desire to express a truer self, to understand new culturally situated dress and appearance codes, and to simultaneously create a unique identity incorporating two cultures (Riley & Cahill, 2005;van der Laan & Velthuis, 2016). For participants, this truer self reflected a weaving together of diverse identities, relationships, and values (cf., Erickson, 1995). As a result, much like Hermans (2001) posited, participants engaged with multiple selves that included (sometimes) conflicting definitions, from their families, peers, and the dominant COS, of what it means to look like an adolescent, Latina, immigrant to the US. ...
... Participants' discussion of authenticity as expressed through dress aligned with Erickson's (1995) supposition that individuals are true to the self not so much "for all time," but rather, in relation to specific contexts (p. 139), which is consistent with the notion of authentic selves as shifting and becoming. ...
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We sought to explore how Latina adolescent immigrants experience immigration across adolescence as they seek to know and express their authentic selves through dress and appearance. Our work was informed by theories of acculturation, identity, and authenticity. Participants included 12 immigrant women who identified as Latina and who immigrated before age 16. Open-ended interviews focused on participants’ memories of their immigration experiences during adolescence. Data were analyzed using constant comparison processes. Findings revealed that, for participants, the typical challenges of adolescence were complicated by immigration that included constructing an authentic identity at the intersection of two cultures. Immigration produced a disjointed dance towards authenticity with many uneven steps, sharp turns, and the occasional reversal. Dress was a key means for the expression of the authentic self; a self that communicated to the culture of settlement who they were and how their culture of origin was part of their authentic self.
... More disturbing would be the very negation of AL by putting up immoral acts in order for leadership to be seen as genuinely authentic. This can be exploited in moralizing abusive and authoritarian leader-subordinate relationships (for more see, Ford & Harding, 2011;Pfeffer, 2015;Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999;Grant, 2016;Schwartz, 1990;Erickson, 1995). While the debates on AL continues in literature, there are calls to validate the AL theoretical constructs which seem sound to follow up with empirical research. ...
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