Identity Construction Essay

2047 words - 9 pages

Identity theory applies to all creeds and cultures. We all develop understandings about ourselves, the type of person we are and wish to be and indeed do not wish to be. This essay examines the strengths and weaknesses of the social constructionist theory of identity, wherein it is proposed that our identities are constructed though language and social relations. In doing so, we shall also consider the psychosocial perspective, demonstrating that the evidence does indeed support the statement made although not overwhelmingly so.

A core component of social construction identity theory is that our identity is continually evolving throughout our lives (Phoenix, 2007, p. 76). Such identity ...view middle of the document...

These statements are strong because they can be supported by objective evidence.

Another critical aspect of social identity theory is that it is formed from social interaction, exclusively. The argument runs that our identity is shaped and modified as a direct consequence and outcome of our social interactions and that there is no room for private identity –formation as such. Our identity is formed as a direct consequence from our public interactions only, (Phoenix, 2007, p. 76).

However, this statement is weak as there is no material evidence to support such a claim.

Of further and equal importance, is the double -assertion that the social constructionist identity theory does not focus solely on a core identity nor does it focus on the singular of just one identity either. In fact, quite the opposite, this particular identity theory proposes that people have numerous different identities and that these are all non–core in type, meaning of equal or relatively equal importance to us. The argument runs that if we have multiple identities in play, that this very fact nullifies the existence of a single and central core identity.

However, similar to the above, such assertions are so subjective in nature and in the absence of any compelling data to underpin these points, they can only be regarded as weak.

Another notable facet to social constructionist identity theory is the issue of power. (Phoenix, 2007, p. 79). This view proposes that an individual obtains some feeling of power derived from the social engagement between the participants of the interaction. Yet, social identity theory takes this a step further and asserts that certain identities create a stronger power –impact upon the person than others or in other words, the derivation of social power upon identity is relative to the type and blend of participants involved in the interaction.

In terms of measuring these particular points however, it is noticeably harder to objectively measure these aspects of SIT theory other than obtaining arrays of subjective data. Similar to the previous points that could only be subjectively measured, the marked absence of concrete measurable and objective data only serves to reduce the overall strength and impact of the statements made.

Moving forward, if we change focus and examine the psychosocial perspective of identity we find that whilst the theory in itself appears weaker, the supporting evidence and data is more objective.

Psychosocial theory proposes that we do establish a core –identity, almost in private, developed initially during our adolescent years which we look to preserve and almost defend and protect in our social interactions rather than consciously adjust. Erik Erikson (Phoenix, 2007, p. 53) proposes that our core identity is the most precious to us and further proposes that we believe it important that our social interactions see our identities as being consistent and largely similar over time rather than being...

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