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Keywords:

  • self-concept;
  • self-regulation;
  • possible selves;
  • autopoiesis;
  • lifeworld

This paper examines the proposition that self-concept exists as a networked modular structure in which the modules, consisting of actual or current self-concept and a number of possible selves, are held together as a dynamical system through an autopoietic process of self-regulation. In this context, the whole lifeworld of an individual can be thought of as a field that is maintained and/or changed through engagement in various kinds of developmental tasks controlled through self-regulation. A ‘morphology’ of self-concept defined in this way involves a dimension ranging from the internal (the person) to the external (the environment) passing through some form of interface. As a system, like any other system, self-concept is characterized by structure, pattern, and process elements. Self-concept, therefore, can change and develop yet ‘stay the same’, thus providing the individual, in a reflective and reflexive way, with a personal sense of history, growth, continuity, and change. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.