The concept of identity

  • Identity is often defined as how you see yourself.
  • Also includes how other people see you.
  • A lot of things make up a person’s identity:
  • Age, gender, social class, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, nationality etc.
  • It is also a product of socialisation.
  • Positive and negative experiences will have an impact identity.
  • Some argue that identity is fixed (in relation to age, gender, sexuality etc.) but others argue that it is more fluid.
  • Nowadays, we construct our own identities, using the media for ideas.
  • We choose what to buy, wear and how we want to look.

Aspects of identity

  • An individual’s identity is made up of key aspects about them.
  • They are crucial in how they see themselves and how others see them.
  • These aspects of identity vary in importance for different people.
  • E.g. sexuality may be more important for someone who is gay than someone who is straight.
  • These aspects of identity also can intersect in different ways.
  • E.g. age identity may have more significance to women than men, as looking more attractive is arguably more desirable to women.

Hybrid identities

  • A hybrid identity is a mix of two or more identities fuse to form one new identities.
  • It is seen most closely within ethnicity and identities.
  • An individual may have an identity of a British person, but also a Muslim and Pakistani, therefore their ethnic identity is a hybrid one.
  • This is common in 2nd and 3rd gen immigrants who grow up in one culture but retain influences on their identity from their culture of origin.
  • Labels such as ‘Brasian’ (British and Asian) and ‘Blasian’ (Black and Asian) have been used to describe hybrid identities.

Ethnicity and Identity

  • Ethnicity relates to culture so we all have an ethnic identity.
  • Made up of our religion, language, where we live, ethnic origin, skin colour etc.
  • These characteristics affect how we see ourselves and how others see us.
  • In the UK we tend to identify certain ethnic groups by their shared characteristics.
  • 2nd, 3rd etc. generation migrants and those who are mixed race will also have a range of characteristics that will make their ethnic identity more complex.
  • Due to the expansion of the European Union, growing numbers of ethnic minorities are white, with an origin from Europe and they also face discrimination.

Nationality and Identity

  • National identity refers to the identity of a whole country.
  • It is often expressed through supporting a  national team, singing the national anthem and wearing the national flag.

Gender and Identity

  • Gender identity is something that is fluid and changing.
  • The way women are seen and the expectations surrounding their appearance has changed in the last century.
  • Also male identity is beginning to change and expectations of masculinity are also beginning to change.
  • The biological view:

Wilson argues that the need to reproduce requires men to be more promiscuous and women need to nurture one child and stay faithful to the father to ensure the child has a good upbringing.

  • The functionalist


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