ROLE IDENTITY – THE DISCONTINUOUS HISTORY OF A TRANSATLANTIC IDEA
While reconstructing the history of the socio-psychological and aesthetic theory of social roles, a thing that is striking is the subtle dialectics between continuities and discontinuities of a highly important theoretical canon, one of the most prolific resources of today's human sciences. When we talk about discontinuities, we mean that the explanatory patterns of the Chicago School, the one that endowed this theory with its contemporary magnitude, have been aesthetically intermediated by the reception of the thought tradition represented by Georg Simmel and Wilhelm Dilthey – a tradition that, at its turn, descended up to the model of the role plurality of the early Romanticism. These connections between the representatives of the Chicago School and German sociology, between Robert E. Park or H.R. Mead and G. Simmel or W. Dilthey have been obliterated in the proper sociological research. The role theory was reimported and reinvented in Europe thanks to Ralf Dahrendorf and Bernard Lahire, inspired by the literary works of Robert Musil, Ernst Mach and Marcel Proust. The paths to conceptual transformation from the incipient aesthetic role theory and up to the sociological theories of role behavior, partly redeemed by sociology, have, however, been “forgotten” by the field of aesthetics, by the theories of fiction or the theory of the novel. Surprisingly so, the new French and German novel of the 1960s and 1970s seems to independently rediscover the initial meanings of the theoretical concepts of “role” and “social play”. The continuity of the theoretical canon considers this scattered redemption of certain theoretical literary ideas, a phenomenon constantly dealt with by the history of ideas. Therefore, the fall of such patterns from thought systems that are rigorously conceptualized in the public discourse and from here, in literature is not always fatal. This paper follows this parallelism between what is happening with the idea of role and identity in human sciences, fiction and literary theory.
Keywords: role identity, personal identity, social identity, communist society, history of ideas.