ProtoSociology 18:66-86 (2003)

Kay Mathiesen
Northeastern University
In this paper, I examine a particularly important kind of social group, what I call a "collective." Collectives are distinguished from other social groups by the fact that the members of collectives can think and act "in the name of" the group; they can collectively plan for its future, work for its success, and grieve at its failure. As a result, collectives have certain person-like properties that other social groups lack. I argue that persons form collectives by taking a shared first person plural perspective based on a shared collective self-concept. This collective self-concept defines the collective, and, along with the causal history of the collective, uniquely identifies it. Over time, collectives persist through changes in membership by maintaining this collective self-concept. Changes in the collective self-concept may be identity preserving, however, if they result from processes that naturally flow from the identity of the collective and which are appropriately caused by the collective and are connected to previous stages of the collective via collective memories
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Social Science
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 1434-4319
DOI 10.5840/protosociology200318/192
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