Sunday, March 24, 2013

Validation of identity

Every individual requires the ongoing validation of his world, including crucially the validation of his identity and place in this world, by those few who are his truly significant others. ... Again in a broad sense, all the actions of the signifi­cant others and even their simple presence serve this sustaining function. In every­day life, however, the principal method employed is speech. In this sense, it is proper to view the individual's relationship with his significant others as an ongo­ing conversation. As the latter occurs, it validates over and over again the fundamental definitions of reality once entered into, not, of course, so much by explicit articulation, but precisely by taking the definitions silently for granted and conversing about all conceivable matters on this taken-for-granted basis. Through the same conversation the individual is also made capable of adjusting to changing and new social contexts in his biography. In a very fundamental sense it can be said that one converses one's way through life. 

(Berger and Kellner, “Marriage and the construction of reality”, Diogenes, 54, 1964)