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Identity (social science)

The notion of "identity" has many uses throughout the social sciences.

Cognitive Psychology

In cognition, identity is discussed in terms of whether or not an individual is self-reflective (i.e., whether it is aware of its own identity). For example, in 2002, some papers indicated that dolphins possess the ability to identify themselves in mirrors.

The psychological idea of identity in humans is tied up in self-image, one's view or model of oneself. Psychologists and counsellors interest themselves in psychological identity: an individual person's sense of self. This is usually referred to as personal identity. See also the work of Erik Erikson and the notion of identity crisis .

Sociology and Political Theory

In sociology and political science, the notion of social identity is individuals' labelling of themselves as members of particular groups -- such as Nation, Social class, Subculture, Ethnicity, Gender, Employment, and so forth. It is in this sense which sociologists and historians speak of a national identity of a particular country, and feminist and queer theorists speak of gender identity.

Many people feel pride in their Identity groups, which furthers a sense of Community and Belonging. Often they will attempt to add to their identity by behaving in certain ways that have only a superficial connection, often the behaviour wasn't even established within the group, but through the Stereotypes of Oppressors. Though, it should not be mistaken that all people who identify a certain way attempt to add more to it. Identity has been a central element of pride movements such as gay pride or black consciousness, which seek to strengthen Politically oppressed groups by improving members' sense of identity. However, many consider a national or ethnic identity as a cultural background for demagogy, ethnic and religious conflicts, and the like.

Last updated: 02-11-2005 09:02:55
Last updated: 03-18-2005 11:16:12