In a world society that is increasingly interconnected and intensely involved in historical changes, dialogical relationships are required not only between individuals, groups and cultures, but also within the self of one and the same individual. This central message of the present book is based on the observation that many of the social processes, like dialogue and fights for dominance, that can be observed in society at large also take place within the self as a “society of mind.” The self is not considered as an entity in itself, as pre-given, with society as a facilitating or impeding environment, but rather as emerging from social, historical, and societal processes that transcend any individual–society dichotomy or separation.
The central notion of this book, the dialogical self, weaves two concepts, self and dialogue, together in such a way that a more profound understanding of the interconnection of self and society becomes possible. Usually, the concept of self refers to something “internal,” something that happens within the mind of the individual person, while “dialogue” is typically associated with something “external,” processes that take place between people who are involved in communication. The composite concept “dialogical self” goes beyond this dichotomy by bringing the external to the internal and, in reverse, to infuse the internal into the external. We will describe the self along these lines, in terms of a diversity of relationship between different “self-positions” and consider society as populated, stimulated, and renewed by individuals in development.