Claude Steele is the provost of Columbia University. He is the author of numerous published articles and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The contributors first explore identity in light of economic changes, consumerism, and globalization, then focus on the question of identity dissolution. Zygmunt Bauman examines the effects of consumerism and considers the constraints these place on the disadvantaged. Drawing together discourses of the body and globalization, David Harvey considers the growth of the wage labor system worldwide and its consequences for worker consciousness. Mike Featherstone outlines a rethinking of citizenship and identity formation in light of the realities of globalization and new information technologies.
Part two opens with Robert Dunn's examination of cultural commodification and the attenuation of social relations. He argues that the media and marketplace are part of a general destabilization of identity formation. Kenneth Gergen maintains that proliferating communications technologies undermine the traditional conceptions of self and community and suggest the need for a new base for building the moral society. In the final chapter, Harvie Ferguson argues that despite the contemporary infatuation with irony, the decline of the notion of the self as an inner depth effectively severs the long connection between irony and identity.