Self work represents the purposeful, reflexive efforts of individuals, collective actors, and networks of individual and collective actors to shape their own selves and those of others. This chapter begins by examining the history of the self as a social-symbolic object, and how that history has shaped self work. The availability and meaning of a self as a social-symbolic object has changed dramatically over time, and so the chapter explores the history of the self, focusing on its transformation in modernity, and then its reformulation in postmodernity. It then conceptualizes self work: it begins by exploring its discursive, relational, and material dimensions, and then discusses the kinds actors who might engage in self work.
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