In this essay, I’m going to explore identity in terms of the following sub-topics: Sociological, Pedagogical, Psychological, Political and Religious perspective.
Identity from a Sociological perspective
Identity can be seen as meeting place between the subjective processes inscribed in the way we live our lives and the discourses that positions us: (Stuart Hall). In returning to the idea of identity as the meeting place, it possible to see identity rationally-formed and played out in relation to those who are different. Identity can be seen as multiple: spoken through and in dialogue with a range of social categories and positions. Gender polarities in school fashion the identities of young men and women, while also providing a context for the formation of intra-gender differences.
Late modern social theorists have developed a particular sociological perspective on selfhood in ‘new times’ (Beck 1992, Giddens 1991). A generally held assumption of late modernity suggest that, identity matters more now because we have more choices. Identity means strategically and reflectively fitting oneself into a community of strangers by meeting their approval through the creation of the right impressions.
“Identities are forged, not within the individual, but in the networks of relations with others, some whom we shall encounter and some of whom we shall not. In this, we are both made and unmade by each other”. This means that identity is not a given but something produced through the narratives people use to explain and understand their lives. Identity needs to be understood as belonging ‘within’ the individual person, but as produced between persons within social relations. (Lawyer, 2004, 2004, P.19-22).
Identity from a Psychological perspective
In psychology, identity are qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/ or expressions that makes a person (self-identity) or group (particular social category or social group). Identity is a social-psychological construct that reflects social influences through imitations and identification processes and active self- construction in the creation of what is important to self and to others. Identity can be assigned or selected. In most technologically complex societies, it is selected.
What is selected is a set of psychological and interpersonal goals based on the values individuation (feeling unique), self -determination (freedom to act), social- approval (to be valued by others), belonging (to be with and cared by others) and equity (fairness and justice). In modern psychology, the topic of self has received a great deal of attention over the past 50 years or so, and identity has been a sub-topic in this field, especially since Erikson’s work on the post war period on the working out of one’s personal identity or a particular challenge of adolescence. “to understand what a person is, it is necessary to always refer to what she / he may be in the future, for every state of the person is pointed in the direction of future possibilities”. (Allport, 1995, p.12)
Identity from a Pedagogical perspective
Teachers’ identity formation can be seen as “a process practical knowledge-building, characterized by an ongoing integration of what is individually and collectively seen as relevant to teaching (Beijaard, 2004, p.123). According to the stance, teacher identity is grounded in teachers’ daily work of learning and knowing of their practice. Teachers form their identity in the social context of schooling and in the ways those contexts enable and limit their meaning making. Thus, teacher identity is partly given and partly achieved by ‘active location’ in a school social space of school. The concept of professional identity is not a fixed attribute of a teacher but a rational phenomenon.
It became evident that teachers’ knowledge was not based to any great extent upon pre-established forms of reasoning. Rather, it tended to be founded on certain “socially shared identities of feeling” (Shotter, 1993, p. 54) that teachers created in the flow of their pedagogical activities. ‘Being pedagogical’ seemed to require a sort of combination of teachers’ selves and particular situations into a single, irreducible entity. Teachers described they were always somewhere, for some purpose, and that they were absorbed in some activity. Usually, they could not separate themselves from these entities in order to perceive them objectively as ‘properties.’ Instead, teachers felt that those situations required their personal investment. They found themselves in particular situations in which they had no other option than to participate.
Identity from a Political perspective
Identity is defined as, tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics. Identity in politics is almost always associated with a group affiliation and describes the ways in which being a member of a particular group might express specific political opinions and attitudes.
Identity in politics is broadly defined, but it typically involves an individual who bases his /her identity on social categories and divisions. Some examples are a feminist who always votes for female candidates regardless of policies, or a black person who primarily supports causes designed to empower the black community.
Identity in a Religious perspective
Identity is defined as the sense of group membership to a religion and the importance of this group membership as it pertains to one’s self-concept. Recent developments in the field of social sciences in general and in sociology in particular suggests a gradual tendency towards revival of interest on the issue of religion and religion. It is plausible that religion and identity may be positively correlated, especially when viewed and analyzed within the prism of designated group of individuals, such as adolescence, younger cohorts and older cohorts