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Identity: the Management of Meaning

Christine Coupland

Subject Psychology
Sociology » Social Psychology

Key-Topics identity

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


This description is an attempt to provide an informed understanding of classical and contemporary approaches to identity. Studies of identities aim to understand the ways we socially constitute ourselves while considering the link between society and self-identity. The term “identity” was relatively unheard of in sociology and social psychology prior to 1940. Since then it has become the focus of vast amounts of research. Its theoretical, cultural, and empirical development has continued as academics apply, dispute, and discuss the concept. Precursors to the concept of identity developed in the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, and psychology. Importance was given within these early developments to self, character, and personality. Identity is a broad term incorporating notions of the individual in interaction with other individuals and with social structures. There is a long tradition of research on identity from within many diverse areas (e.g., anthropology, organizational theory, philosophy, psychology, and sociology), each bringing particular frames of philosophical inquiries and methodologies. The resulting heterogeneity of the field has been further developed over time due to movements across the social sciences which affect how the individual is considered to be constituted in social relationships and the implications this has for the study of identities. These movements ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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