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What is Identity: Year 13

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Jennifer Walsh

on 25 August 2010

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Transcript of What is Identity: Year 13

Identity: According to the Theorists
'the identity of an individual takes place according to a pre-established series of identification in the values imposed by the laws of different institutions such as religion and the media'
These institutions, according to Althusser, consisted not only of the State (repressive power operated in the interests of the ruling class), but a distinction between an explicitly 'Repressive State Apparatus' (the government, police and administration - function by violence) and the different formative functions of religion, family and other major institutions (function by ideology).
He called these the Ideological State Apparatuses' (ISA) . These ISAs, although the most private, absolve the purely political function to 'impress on the blank page of the undetermined individual' his/her social and private identity.
In other words, the investment of identity takes place according to a pre-established series of acts of identification in the values imposed by the laws of ISAs.
The only way an individual can become a subject is by 'subjecting' himself (subject being the one that performs the action, but also the one who is acted upon) to the existing values given him by institutions such as the family, religion, the media and so on
ALTHUSSER
Among the concepts central to Plato's metaphysical vision are those of identity, sameness, and difference.
For example, it is on the basis of a claim about putative cases of sameness among different things that Plato postulates the existence of separate Forms.
It is owing to the apparent sameness between instances of Forms and the Forms themselves that Plato is compelled somehow to take account of potentially destructive vicious infinite regress arguments.
Plato
Barthes claims that identity is instable and cannot be transferred into texts. The idea that criticism of texts can be formed on the basis of the author's identity is absurd
'There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; ... identity is performatively constituted by the very "expressions" that are said to be its results.'
This idea of identity as free-floating, as not connected to an 'essence', but instead a performance, is one of the key ideas in queer theory. Seen in this way, our identities, gendered and otherwise, do not express some authentic inner "core" self but are the dramatic effect (rather than the cause) of our performances
Butler
It also suggests that the confines of any identity can potentially be reinvented by its owner...
Barthes
Gauntlett
Identity is complicated. Everyone thinks they have one
Thinking about self-identity and individuality can cause some anxiety- at least in the cultures where individuals are encouraged to value their personal uniqueness.
Each of us would like to think- to some extent- that we have special, personal qualities, which makes us distinctive and valuable to other people in our lives (or potential future friends)
Is Individuality just an illusion? Maybe we are all incredibly similar, but are programmed to value miniscule bits of differentiation.
From the Latin root 'idem', meaning "the same," the term nevertheless implies both similarities and difference. On the one hand, identity is something unique to each of us that we assume is more or less constant (and hence the same) over time.
"IDENTITY THEFT": In these formulations, our identity is something we uniquely possess; it is what distinguishes us from other people.
However, identity also implies a relationship with a broader collective or social group of some kind.
Identity is about 'identification' with others whom we assume are similar to us (if not exactly the same), at least in some significant ways.
There is a large and diverse body of work within sociology, social psychology, and anthropology concerned with the relations between individual and group identities.
Researchers have studied how people categorize or label themselves and others, how they identify as members of particular groups; how a sense of group belonging or "community" is developed and maintained, and how groups discriminate against outsiders; how the boundaries between groups operate, and how groups relate to each other; and how institutions define and organise identities.
In seeking to define their identity, people attempt to assert their individuality, but also to join with others, and they work to sustain their sense of status or self-esteem in doing so.
The formation of identity often involves a process of stereotyping or "cognitive simplification" that allows people to distinguish easily between self and other, and to define themselves and their group in positive ways.
Richard Jenkins
Social identity should be seen not so much as a fixed possession, but as a social process, in which the individual and the social are inextricably related.
As such, identity is a fluid, contingent matter- it is something we accomplish practically through our ongoing interactions and negotiations with other people. In this respect is might be more appropriate to talk about identification rather than identity.
MEDIA AND THE EFFECT ON COLLECTIVE IDENTITY
Anthony Giddens is an expert on the changing nature of identity in what he terms as "late modern" societies.
He states that modern individuals have to be constantly "self-reflexive" making decisions about what they should do and who they should be.
The word "should" can refer to the expectation of society. In this "late modern" society we have to ask where societal regulations and expectations come from.
For the masses this is the media. As a population we cannot go a day without interacting with some form of media. We are programmed through our inherant learning and understanding of semiotics and encoded media to decode the societal norms, values and beliefs.
The following advert tells us all we need to know about our societal expectations in one glance.
FAULCAULT
Faulcault argues that who we are - or who we percieve ourselves to be is far from a matter of individual choice; on the contrary, it is the product and subtle forms of "governmentality" that are characteristic of modern liberal democracies.
he asserts that there has been a shift in the ways in which power is exercised in the modern world...rather than being held by sovereign authorities, power is now diffused through social relationships.
"an individual's mental picture of her/himself."
Functionalism
"The individual is the product of Society"
Marxism
"The individual is the product of Ecconomic Forces"
Interpretivists
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