Essay on Individual Identity And Individual Identities

Essay on Individual Identity And Individual Identities

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Individual identity is how an individual relates to them self, as well as how others relate to the individual (Bessant & Watts 2002, p.153). This occurs as other people reflect back to us their impression of ourselves (Plummer 2010, p.22). Indeed, the body is central to how our self is recognised by others and how we derive our identities (Back et al. 2012, p.98). Individual identities are shaped in various ways, such as with others’ belief in essentialism – the assumption that all people of a certain group have the same characteristics (Bessant & Watts 2002, p.154), or via face-to-face relationships (Back et al. 2012, p.98). Furthermore, individual identities provide a sense of who we are, who we might be, who we were, and provide a sense of belonging to various groups (Plummer 2010, p.172; Willer, Flynn & Zak 2012, p.124). However, individual identity is often in conflict between our personal identities and our social identities (Bessant & Watts 2002, p.153). While social structures play a dominate role in shaping individual identities, other factors also contribute. However, as individuals attempt to shape their identities, they tend to either experience psychological conflict, or face strong barriers to changes.
Social structures undoubtedly shape individual identity. Indeed, structural functionalism, a model which states that societies produce individuals who are needed by the society and want to maintain social order, claims that social structures ascribes individual identity (Bessant & Watts 2002, pp. 144-145). The extent of individual identity development being shaped by social structures is exemplified in sexual identity. Shapiro, Rios and Stewart (2010, pp.504-505) found that an individual’s sexual identity is not only d...


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...o strive for a greater degree of individuality of the identity (Bessant & Watts 2002, pp.148-150). Figurations tend to help with this process (Bessant & Watts 2002, pp.151-152), however deviating for social norms may negatively impact an individual’s social life (Furze et al. 2012, p.111). Finally, Simmel (1969, pp.51-52) explains that in metropolitan areas, due to citizens having a ‘blasé’ attitude, an individual may present their desired identity. However, this incidentally incurs a cold and lonely cost (Simmel 1969, pp.51). Accordingly, while social structures do not account for all of individual identity, its prominence is certainty difficult to evade. It appears that for an individual to do so, they may either incur a psychological fee either via the incident in which individual freedom is free, or via the individuals groups’ rejection of their desired identity.

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