The self-regulated nature of self-concept and the Life World – investigating the process of personal change and transition

John D. Smith

Abstract


This paper examines the systemic (dynamic) nature of self-concept to determine how the experience, and associated understandings, of change(s) in self-concept might be researched amongst Beginning Teachers (BT’s) who are undertaking a long course of education and training. Self-concept has been extensively researched over many years and across a large number of fields; formulating a coherent overview of the topic has been difficult, however, because of the varied traditions and perspectives operating within different research communities. By adopting an approach similar to that used by Sternberg; this paper attempts to identify and map the many metaphors relating to self-concept according to their systemic properties, ie, structure, pattern and process, also their internal, external and boundary relationships within the individual person. The paper then examines self-regulation as a key feature of the autopoietic self, a systems based view of the human as a self-bounded, self-regulating and self-perpetuating entity, and develops a systemic perspective of self-concept as the basis for an integrated conceptual framework. This, essentially descriptive, view of self-concept is then further developed by introducing two process based ideas from Life Span Developmental Psychology – the notion of the life course as a evolving structure and the concept of the developmental life task. The paper ends by examining the role of possible selves as the dynamic force that ‘powers’ the process of everyday living and suggests ways in which the original research question might be further investigated.

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