Abstract and Keywords
Contemporary conceptions of self-esteem emphasize the person’s acceptance by self and others, the evaluation of performance, social comparison, and the efficacy of individual action as the important roots of self-esteem. The present analysis treats these elements, not as psychological universals, but as rooted in the competing themes of American culture. The discourse of self-esteem enables the person’s understanding of individuality versus community, striving for success versus self-acceptance, or the quest for happiness as a future state versus contentment with one’s present lot. The experience of self-esteem is here conceived as grounded in mood. Self-esteem provides a means of interpreting mood, which encourages and inhibits conduct in various situations. Mood is a response to positive and negative experiences; self-esteem is a construction of mood fitted to a culture and its themes. The analysis considers how self-esteem binds the person to cultural emphases and examines the limitations of self-esteem as a goal.
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