City Research Online

Guilty Lives: The Failed Search for Authenticity in Contemporary Society

Spicer, A. (2011). Guilty Lives: The Failed Search for Authenticity in Contemporary Society. Ephemera, 11(1), pp. 46-52.


This paper argues that guilt is central to the contemporary fixation with personal authenticity. Building on Basterra’s (2004) analysis of guilt and the tragic form, I argue the search for authenticity represents an act of agency, a struggle against external social determination. This struggle is embodied in a whole series of minor ‘authenticity rituals’ that we become passionately attached to. These rituals provoke compulsive self-monitoring within the subject. Instead of freeing ourselves from control, the search for authenticity actually deepens it in unexpected ways.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: control, rituals, agency
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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