Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Identity, Social and Political
Identity is a somewhat ambiguous term and a contentious concept. With regard to individuals, groups, and societies, a differentiation between personal, social, and collective identity is common. In popular language and essentialist concepts, personal identity is used to denote an individual's self-concept: certain typical traits and meanings that are perceived as relatively stable over different situations and over time and that distinguish the self from other persons. Although some have questioned the universality of this concept, the idea of an essential inner self of the individual dominates at least contemporary Western concepts of the person. Social identity refers to societal or cultural influences on the development of the self, to memberships of individuals along a continuum of interaction groups (e.g., families, sports teams, political parties, and other networks), and to social categories (e.g., according to social roles such as mothers, teachers, sports fans). As such, social identity is also cultural ...