307 Lee Authenticity

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Authenticity, is defined in the dictionary as the quality of being “accepted, true in substance, original, genuine, and real.”[1] However, Golomb states that the term is “used in so many different contexts that it may very well resist definition” and that it cannot be defined objectively.[2] He states that authenticity “requires an incessant movement of becoming, self transcendence and self creation” and that it may be ultimately attained by getting to the genuine root of our selves by shedding blindly accepted ethical norms and ideologies that we have been conditioned to uphold by families, schools, and universities. O’Brien & Szeman propose that authenticity is typically “attributed to objects, practices, or ideas, often in order to demonstrate the extent to which an initially authentic phenomenon has been compromised or drained of its value.”[3] Handler suggests that the notion of authenticity is a created, cultural construction of the modern Western world that makes people imagine cultures as “discrete, bounded units, each unique – like a personality configuration”.[4] He describes authenticity of experience as the self fulfillment of an individual, when they have an experience that they can subjectively define as authentic.[5] In another of his articles, he argues that “ongoing cultural representations refer to or take account of prior representations”, creating a “continuity of reference” wherein cultural representations are actually never original or authentic, but inextricably linked to past cultural representations.[6]


  1. “Authenticity.” N. Oxford English Dictionary Online. 26 Nov. 2012.
  2. Goloumb, Jacob. In Search of Authenticity: Existentialism from Kierkegaard to Camus. New York: Routledge, 1995. 7-9.
  3. O'Brien, Susie & Imre Szeman. Popular Culture: A User's Guide. 1st Ed. Toronto: Nelson Education, 2004. 353. Print.
  4. Handler, Richard. 1986. “Authenticity”. Anthropology Today, 2(1): 2-4.
  5. Handler, Richard & Saxton, William. 1988. “Dyssimulation: Reflexivity, Narrative, and the Quest for Authenticity in ‘Living History’”. Cultural Anthropology, 3(3): 242-260.
  6. Handler, Richard & Linnekin, Jocelyn. 1984. “Tradition, Genuine or Spurious”. Journal of American Folklore, 97(385): 273-290.