© 2020

Identity and Symbolic Interaction

Deepening Foundations, Building Bridges

  • Richard T. Serpe
  • Robin Stryker
  • Brian Powell

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Richard T. Serpe, Robin Stryker, Brian Powell
    Pages 1-33
  3. Deepening Identity Theory

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 35-35
    2. Jan E. Stets, Scott V. Savage, Peter J. Burke, Phoenicia Fares
      Pages 65-88
    3. Jessie K. Finch, Robin Stryker
      Pages 119-148
    4. George W. Bohrnstedt, Jizhi Zhang, Bitnara Jasmine Park, Sakiko Ikoma, Markus Broer, Burhan Ogut
      Pages 169-210
  4. Building Further Bridges

About this book


This book examines identity theory’s centrality within social psychology and its foundations within structural symbolic interaction, highlighting its links not only to other prominent sociological subfields, but also to other theoretical perspectives within and beyond sociology. The book provides a synthetic overview outlining the intellectual lineage of identity theory within structural symbolic interactionism, and how the “Indiana School” of identity theory and research, associated especially with Sheldon Stryker, relates to other symbolic interactionist traditions within sociology. It also analyses the latest developments in response to the push to integrate identity theory, which initially focused on role identities, with the study of personal, group and social identities. Further, it discusses the relationship between identity theory and affect control theory, providing a sense of the many substantive topics within sociology beyond social psychology for which the study of identity has important, sometimes underappreciated implications. The book concludes with a chapter summarizing the interrelated lessons learned while also reflecting on remaining key questions and challenges for the future development of identity theory.


Sheldon Stryker Identity Theory Symbolic Interactionism Deepening Identity Theory Identity Verification Process The Role of the Other Identity Flexibility and Uncertainty Rational Choice, Identity and Decision-Making Stress Process Model Psychological Aspects of Identity Multiplicity Personality Traits

Editors and affiliations

  • Richard T. Serpe
    • 1
  • Robin Stryker
    • 2
  • Brian Powell
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyKent State UniversityKentUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyIndiana University BloomingtonBloomingtonUSA

About the editors

Richard Serpe is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology at Kent State University. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University in 1985. He has been the coeditor of Social Psychology Quarterly (with Jan E. Stets) and Sociological Perspectives (with Don Barrett). Professor Serpe is a sociological social psychologist who has been working in the area of identity theory for the past forty years. His recent research is designed to further contextualize identity processes in terms of differential placement within the social structure. This research focuses on specifying proximal social structure, defining counter- normative identities and exploring the relationships between identity processes and self-relevant outcome e.g., self-esteem, efficacy, anxiety, depression, and emotions. He is the coeditor of Identities in Everyday Life (with Jan E. Stets); New Directions in Identity Theory and Research (with Jan E. Stets), and Advances in Identity Theory and Research (with Peter J. Burke, Timothy J. Owens, and Peggy A. Thoits).    

 Robin Stryker is Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Purdue University, and Professor Emerita, University of Arizona, where in addition to her appointment in Sociology, she was affiliated with the Rogers College of Law and School of Government and Public Policy.  She is the recipient of many scholarly awards, research grants and fellowships, including a Jean Monnet Fellowship (2001) and a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2008). In 2016-2017, she was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University. She is a past president of the Society for the Advancement of Socio- Economics, and a past Chair of the American Sociological Association’s sections on Theory, Political Sociology, and the Sociology of Law. She is a past member of the National Research Council Roundtable on the Communication and Use of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2015-2017.  She regularly publishes on theory, methods, law, politics, economy, culture, and inequality in such journals as the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Sociological Methods and Research, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Research in Stratification and Social Mobility, Law & Social Inquiry, Social Politics, Politics & Society, Socio-Economic Review and the Annual Review of Law & Social Science. Her most recent book is titled Closing the Rights Gap; From Hitman Rights to Social Transformation (co-edited with LaDawn Haglund), University of California Press. With Sheldon Stryker, she co-authored “Is Mead’s Framework Still Sound? Pp 31-57 in New Directions in Identity Theory and Research, edited by J. Stets and R. Serpe, Oxford University Press.  In 2018, her article “From Legal Doctrine to Social Transformation? Comparing U.S. Voting Rights, Equal Employment Opportunity and Fair Housing Legislation,” (American Journal of Sociology, with Nicholas Pedriana) won Distinguished Article Awards from the American Sociological Sections on Political Sociology and on Human Rights.

Brian Powell is James H. Rudy Professor and Co-Director of the Preparing Future Faculty Program in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University, where he recently concluded a term as chair. Professor Powell’s research interests have focused on family sociology, sociology of education, gender, and social psychology. With grants from the National Science Foundation, American Education Research Association, and the Spencer Foundation, Brian has examined how families confer advantages (or disadvantages) to their children and how structural and compositional features of families (e.g., parental age, family size, birth order, one vs. two-parent households, inter-racial composition, adoptive vs. biological parents) influence parental social, intellectual and economic investments in children. He is especially interested in several increasingly visible groups of "atypical" family forms: families with older parents, bi/multiracial families, adoptive families and gay/lesbian families. He is the co-author of Counted Out: Same- Sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family with (Catherine Bolzendahl, Claudia Geist, and Lala Carr Steelman), American Sociological Association Rosé Series.    


Bibliographic information