The Structure of Group Identification
The concept of group identification has been widely discussed in the fields of social psychology and social ontology. The debate has been somewhat unbalanced, however. The structure, nature, and experiential status of groups have been assessed widely and from several perspectives. Instead, the concept of identification as received considerably less attention. This is why the ongoing debate threatens to be misled by various conceptual ambiguities. These ambiguities concern first and foremost the target, structure, and temporal nature of identification. The present article offers a philosophical analysis of the concept and clarifies the conceptual ambiguities haunting the debate.
KeywordsSocial identity Social psychology Social ontology Affectivity and salience Group membership The “we”
I am grateful to Henrik Enckell, Donnchadh O’Conaill, Joel Krueger, Jussi Saarinen, Alessandro Salice, Thomas Szanto, and Dan Zahavi for their valuable comments to earlier drafts of the article. I also want to thank everyone who participated in the discussion when I presented the main argument of the article in 2016, first at the seminar organized by the Subjectivity, Historicity, Communality research network at the University of Helsinki in September and, then, at the conference “Empathy in and with Groups” at the Center for Subjectivity Research (University of Copenhagen) in December. Finally, I am grateful to my two anonymous reviewers whose insightful comments and suggestions significantly improved the article.
This research has been generously funded by the Kone Foundation (Finland).
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