The Ego-Centric & Socio-Centric Self

Two contrasting models of personal identity or selfhood:

Egocentric Self
- each person is seen to be a separate entity with inherent characteristics
    - which are seen to originate and reside within an individual
- to act differently depending on who you are with is seen as dishonest
    - as suggested in the expression, "be true to yourself"

Sociocentric Self
- personal identity not autonomous but relative/conditional
    - depends on social context, who one is with (or referring to)
- personal qualities not embedded in the person but embodied (manifested) in concrete social settings
- assumes/realises people are not autonomous and self-contained packages of traits but part of a social matrix

These are two sides of identity found in any person in any culture
- the two models don't necessarily describe two different forms of people
- rather they are ways of treating people, values attached to expressions of personhood (who you are in a social setting)
- where people are raised to value the sociocentric aspects of selfhood, self-centered and egotistic behaviour is devalued
    - but they would still recognize that such behaviour exists because of the existence of the egocentric self
- so it's not that people in such societies (like the Bemba) are not individuals
    - but rather the pursuit of individualism at the expense of concern for others is considered inappropriate

This is an important distinction in anthropology and is found in any culture
- every society works with both egocentric and sociocentric aspects of selfhood
    - identity is always in part unique and internal to an individual
    - but always within a larger cultural context of complex interpersonal relations