Identity Theory

Identity Theory

Identity Theory

Identity Theory

Synopsis

The concept of identity has become widespread within the social and behavioral sciences in recent years, cutting across disciplines from psychiatry and psychology to political science and sociology. All individuals claim particular identities given their roles in society, groups they belong to, and characteristics that describe themselves. Introduced almost 30 years ago, identity theory is a social psychological theory that attempts to understand identities, their sources in interaction and society, their processes of operation, and their consequences for interaction and society from a sociological perspective. This book describes identity theory, its origins, the research that supports it, and its future direction. It covers the relation between identity theory and other related theories, as well as the nature and operation of identities. In addition, the book discusses the multiple identities individuals hold from their multiple positions in society and organizations as well as the multiple identities activated by many people interacting in groups and organizations. And, it covers the manner in which identities offer both stability and change to individuals. Written in an accessible style,Identity Theorymakes, step by step, the full range of this powerful new theory understandable to readers at all levels.

Excerpt

This book had its beginnings almost fifteen years ago when we were on sabbatical at the University of Iowa. Over the years, we kept promising ourselves that we would get back to finishing it, but inevitably other research projects, journal articles, and book chapter obligations got in the way. Those who tend to write research articles will understand this. This past year we took the Nike slogan “Just Do It!” seriously and began a flurry of writing that culminated in this book. Ironically, the long delay has proven to be beneficial for this book. Over the years, our ideas and work in identity theory have matured theoretically and methodologically, and we have discovered some fascinating patterns given our empirical results. These insights keep us excited in forging ahead to discover more. Thus, on the one hand, the current book is much better, more developed, and more complete than it would have been if we wrote it many years earlier. On the other hand, in taking time out to write this book, we realized that there was much more that needed to be developed in identity theory. This realization makes it clear that we are working with a rich theory that has still more to say about the self and the self-society relationship.

We admit that an important reason behind writing this book at this time is to give scholars within sociology and across the social sciences a clear and organized statement on identity theory in sociological social psychology. To date, no such book exists. Over time, we became increasingly frustrated with this fact, so we decided it was time to provide one. Identity theory research has been scattered across numerous journals, book chapters, and conference papers, and we wanted to provide a place where scholars could obtain a clear and organized understanding of the theory. We think we have accomplished this goal although our readers are the ultimate judge of this.

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