Article

Identity

Angie Andriot and Timothy J. Owens

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online April 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0025
Identity

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  • Sociology
  • Comparative and Historical Sociology
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  • Gender and Sexuality
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  • Social Movements and Social Change
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We outline four identity theories typically employed by contemporary social psychologists: personal identity, role identity, social identity, and collective identity. Personal identity (see [Personal] Identity Theory), the most elementary of the four identities, was pioneered by American sociological social psychologists (SSPs), particularly Sheldon Stryker. SSPs emphasize how demographic, social, and cultural factors affect human social interaction. Personal identity is what makes every person unique, defining them through their specific biographies (e.g., name, birthplace), unique characteristics (e.g., intelligent, athletic), role identities (e.g., daughter, employee), and particular combination of private and public experiences. Role identify (see Role Identity Theory), also pioneered by American SSPs, particularly George J. McCall and J. L. Simmons, is inspired by the language of dramaturgy. Role identity is defined as the role (or character) people play when holding specific social positions in groups. It is relational, since people interact with each other via their own role identities. Social identity (see Social Identity Theory), pioneered by European psychological social psychologists, particularly Henri Tajfel and John C. Turner, emphasizes how a person’s cognition, affect, and personality traits affect immediate person-to-person social interactions and vice versa. It is the part of an individual’s self-concept formed through the knowledge of his or her membership in meaningful social groups and organizations (e.g., Kiwanis Club, the Cleveland City Club) and categories (e.g., Native American, northerner). In short, it is through our public selves that we are able to simplify the world around us by using categorizations to infer our similarities and differences to other people. Finally, collective identity (see Collective Identity Theory), also pioneered by European psychological social psychologists, especially Alberto Melucci, is the self in action. Collective identities are especially important to social movement participants, political activists, and others banding together to fight for or against social change by working on shared goals and action plans. In short, it is a process by which a set of individuals interacts to create a shared sense of identity or group consciousness.

Article.  6743 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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