Re-definitions of Self in Concentration Camps
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The paper presents some most general conclusions from analysis of the problem of re-definition of self among prisoners of concentration camps . The camp is regarded here as a Goffmanian institution. E. Goffman defines total institutions as these social institutions (establishments, plants) which impose more restrictions on the individual than do other institutions. The limited contact with the outside world is often symbolized by high walls, barbed wire etc. In our opinion concentration camps are a specific type of total institution (due to planned genocide, drastic forms of killing and violence, ideology of killing etc.). We have therefore called them “total death institutions”. The term “redefinition of self” denotes the inclusion into the presentation of self of camp self-conception created by the institution of Nazi death camps as well as the use of certain methods of self-conception management. The situation of re-definition entails thus a differentiation between the camp inmates self-perception and their pre-camp conceptions of self. In our analysis we have used the dramaturgical approach and a notional frame from Goffmans’s early works .
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