• 212 pages
  • 6 x 9
  • 3 tables, 3 figures
  • Price: $25.95
  • EAN: 9781439913284
  • Publication: May 2016
  • Price: $80.50
  • EAN: 9781439913277
  • Publication: May 2016
  • Price: $25.95
  • EAN: 9781439913291
  • Publication: May 2016

Inner Speech and the Dialogical Self

Norbert Wiley
  • Co-winner of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction's Charles Horton Cooley Book Award, 2017

Inner speech, also known as self-talk, is distinct from ordinary language. It has several functions and structures, from everyday thinking and self-regulation to stream of consciousness and daydreaming. Inner Speech and the Dialogical Self provides a comprehensive analysis of this internal conversation that people have with themselves to think about problems, clarify goals, and guide their way through life.

Norbert Wiley shrewdly emphasizes the semiotic and dialogical features of the inner speech, rather than the biological and neurological issues. He also examines people who lack control of their inner speech—such as some autistics and many emotionally disturbed people who use trial and error rather than self-control—to show the power and effectiveness of inner speech.

Inner Speech and the Dialogical Self takes a humanistic social theorist approach to its topic. Wiley acknowledges the contributions of inner speech theorists, Lev Vygotsky and Mikhail Bakhtin, and addresses the classical pragmatism of Charles Sanders Peirce, John Dewey, William James, and George Herbert Mead to show the range and depth of this largely unexplored field.


"Inner Speech and the Dialogical Self makes a great many original contributions to the research literature. Wiley shows that concepts central to the social sciences—self, social interaction, and the social construction of reality—are based on the notion of inner speech, yet no one has undertaken a systematic exploration of this topic. Wiley is dealing with exceedingly complicated ideas, but his writing is invariably clear, precise, and engaging. He is an enthusiastic guide. This book will be influential. It is a game-changing contribution to our understanding of human nature, and one of those rare books that alter the way we understand important things."
Michael Flaherty, Professor of Sociology at Eckerd College, and author of The Textures of Time: Agency and Temporal Experience

" A very sound and important work on the processes by which individuals think and undertake actions—what the author calls ‘inner speech.’ Wiley addresses all the relevant literature, providing a good synthesis with a focus on the work of Charles Sanders Peirce, George Herbert Mead, and Mikhail Bakhtin. He uses the work of these philosophers to develop a unique theory of inner speech and its relationship to self-conceptions and to the resultant actions."
—Robert Perinbanayagam, Professor Emeritus, Hunter College of the City University of New York and author of Discursive Acts: Language, Signs, and Selves

" (A)n intriguing, exploratory theoretical approach to understanding 'inner speech'.... Wiley tackles some of the big amorphous problems of social theory––self, identity, and agency.... This book is at its best when it provokes the reader to think seriously about this phenomenon and suggests ideas to put to an empirical test."
American Journal of Sociology

"Inner Speech and the Dialogical Self , by Norbert Wiley, is a welcome addition to the literature on inner speech.... It is (the) gaps in traditional approaches and the resulting lack of emphasis on inner speech that makes Wiley's book timely and important. He succeeds in presenting a comprehensive theory that brings inner speech and its dynamics solidly into the realm of major debates about human mind and self."
Contemporary Sociology

"Wiley argues that inner speech is more emotional than external speech; in effect, inner speech is a kind of Freudian consciousness, expressing brutally honest emotions that are repressed in outer speech.... Wiley himself writes that some parts of inner speech are too private to communicate. But the more we know about inner speech, the more we know how to ask fruitful questions. Work like Wiley's shows how to sharpen both theory and observation in an ongoing loop."
Symbolic Interaction

About the Author(s)

Norbert Wiley is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and the author of The Semiotic Self.