Advertisement

Cultural Identity and Personal Identity

Philosophical Reflections on the Identity Discourse of Social Psychology
  • Thomas Wren
Chapter
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 11)

Abstract

This chapter discusses the relationship between personal identity and what is variously called group identity, reference group orientation, and — in the broadest sense of the term — cultural identity, with a special interest paid to how the contrast between these two sorts of identity operates in the discourse of modern social science. The orthodox discourse of social scientists, especially that of personality theorists, treats personal identity as an epiphenomenon of group identity and as an amalgam of self-concept and self-esteem. This conceptual construction has grown out of a more general discussion in the mid-20th century social theory concerning how individuals are related to groups, and is represented by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s and, more recently, by contemporary racial identity theorists.

In opposition to Lewin, the latter argue that a positive personal identity (strong self-esteem, etc.) can and often does coexist with a negative group identity (reference group disaffiliation, etc.). However, they share with Lewin and most social scientists the uncritical assumption that identity — individual or group — is static and integral, rather than the discursive outcome of a fluid, collaborative dialogue among real people with overlapping perspectives and preferences. Beneath their claims that personal and group identity are social constructions lies an unreconstructed essentialism that reifies these concepts.

Key Words

cultural identity group identity person personal identity personality racial identity self self-esteem social construction social science 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Barth, F., Introduction, in F. Barth (ed.), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Cultural Difference. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969, pp. 9–38.Google Scholar
  2. Barth, F., Enduring and Emerging Issues in the Analysis of Ethnicity, in H. Vermeulen and C. Govers (eds.), The Anthropology of Ethnicity: Beyond Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 1994, pp. 11–32.Google Scholar
  3. Bakhurst, D., and Sypnowich, C. (eds.), The Social Self. New York and London: Sage Publications, 1995.Google Scholar
  4. Brody, E., Marginality, Identity and Behavior in the American Negro: A Functional Analysis, International Journal of Social Psychiatry 10 (1964), pp. 7–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chodorow, N., Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  6. Clark, K., and Clark, M., Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children, in T.M. Newcomb and E.L. Hartley (eds.), Readings in Social Psychology. New York: Henry Holt, 1947, pp. 602–611Google Scholar
  7. Clark, K., and Clark, M., The Development of Consciousness of Self and the Emergence of Racial Identification in Negro Pre-school Children, Journal of Social Psychology 10 (1939), pp. 591–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark, K., and Clark, M., Skin Colour as a Factor in Racial Identification of Negro Pre-school Children, Journal of Social Psychology 11 (1940), pp. 159–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clifford, J., The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-century Ethnography, Literature and Art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  10. Cooley, C.H., Human Nature and the Social Order. New York: Schocken Books, 1902.Google Scholar
  11. Cross, W.E., Shades of Black: Diversity in African-American Identity. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  12. Cross, W.E., Black Identity: Rediscovering the Distinction between Personal Identity and Reference Group Orientation, in M. Spencer, G. Brookins, and W. Allen (eds.), Beginnings: The Social and Affective Development of Black Children. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1985, pp. 155–171.Google Scholar
  13. Descartes, R., Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. John Cottingham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Originally published 1641.Google Scholar
  14. Erikson, E., Identity, Youth, and Crisis. New York: Norton, 1968.Google Scholar
  15. Fernberger, S.W., Persistence of Stereotypes Concerning Sex Differences, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 43 (1948), pp. 97–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fuss, D., Essentially Speaking: Feminism, Nature, and Difference. New York: Routledge, Chapman, and Hall, 1989.Google Scholar
  17. Geertz, C., The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books, 1973.Google Scholar
  18. Goffman, E., The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City: Doubleday, 1959.Google Scholar
  19. Gordon, V.V., The Self-concept of Black Americans. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1977.Google Scholar
  20. Hall, S., Who Needs `Identity’?, in S. Hall and P. du Gay (eds.), Questions of Cultural Identity. London: Sage Publications, 1996, pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  21. Handler, R., and Segal, D., Jane Austen and the Fiction of Culture: An Essay on the Narration of Social Realities. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  22. Harré, R., Personal Being. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  23. Herzberg, J., Self-excoriation by Young Women, American Journal of Psychology 134 (1977), pp. 320–321.Google Scholar
  24. Hirschfeld, L., Race in the Making: Cognition, Culture, and the Child’s Construction of Human Kinds. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  25. Hoffinan, M., Empathy, Role-taking, Guilt, and Development of Altruistic Motives, in T. Lickona (ed.), Moral Development and Behavior: Theory, Research and Social Issues. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976, pp. 124–143.Google Scholar
  26. Hoffman, D., A Therapeutic Moment? Identity, self, and culture in the anthropology of education, Anthropology and Education Quarterly 29 (3) (1998), pp. 324–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hyman, J.J., and Singer, E., Readings in Reference Group Theory and Research. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968.Google Scholar
  28. Ingram, D., Group Rights: Reconciling Equality and Difference. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  29. Kahn, J., Culture, Multiculture, Postculture. London: Sage Publications, 1995.Google Scholar
  30. Kardiner, A., and Ovesey, L., The Mark of Oppression. New York: Norton, 1951.Google Scholar
  31. Kincheloe, J., and Steinbert, S., Changing Multiculturalism. Buckingham/Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  32. Lewin, K., Jewish Self-hatred, Contemporary Jewish Record 4 (1941), pp. 219–232.Google Scholar
  33. Lewin, K., Resolving Social Conflicts. New York: Harper and Row, 1948.Google Scholar
  34. Lynne, D.B., A Note on Sex Differences in the Development of Masculine and Feminine Identification, Psychological Review 66 (1959), pp. 126–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mead, G.H., Mind, Self and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934.Google Scholar
  36. Parsons, T., The Social System. New York: Free Press, 1951.Google Scholar
  37. Rosaldo, R., Culture and Truth. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989.Google Scholar
  38. Shweder, R., Thinking through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  39. Shweder, R., and LeVine, R. (eds.), Cultural Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  40. Verkuyten, M., Self-esteem, Self-concept, Stability, and Aspects of Ethnic Identity among Minority and Majority Youth in the Netherlands, Journal of Youth and Adolescence 24 (2) (1995), pp. 155–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wylie, R. C., The Self-concept. Vol. 2: Theory and Research on Selected Topics. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Wren

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations