Identifying Identity: A Sociology

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Etymologically the word ‘identity’ is derived from the Latin word ‘idem’, meaning the ‘sameness and continuity’. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) gives two meanings of ‘identity’ – 1. The quality or condition of being the same in substance, composition, nature, properties, or in particular qualities under consideration, absolute or essential sameness; 2. The condition or fact that a person or thing is itself and not something else. The person recognises himself as the same and not someone else across time and place. The OED gives an older meaning of the term ‘identity’ that is still used quite frequently in everyday life but it does not represent our present concept of identity. As Gleason shows in his article “Identifying Identity: A…show more content…
The process of knowing beliefs, norms and values of social behaviour that we are supposed to follow as members of a particular society is called socialization. Each of us is linked to this process and it provides us a sense of ‘self’ which represents our sense of knowing oneself and sense of having a distinct identity set apart from other people in society. We construct a sense of self through our interactions with others in the process of socialization. Sociologist C. H. Cooley developed the idea of ‘looking-glass self’. It means that people acquire their sense of ‘self’ by understanding their ‘self’ reflected in other people’s attitude and behaviour towards them and by imagining what other people think about them. Thus, other people serve as the mirror for reflecting the…show more content…
According to McCall and Simmons, identity is “the character and the role that an individual devises for himself as an occupant of a particular social position.” McCall, Simmons and Stryker state that “individuals have multiple identities due to actions in society and society structure.” The French philosopher Foucault proposed that individuals inhabit multiple identities. Identity, in relation to social practices, is linked to larger structures like class, ethnicity, race, gender and

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