Burke & Stets 2009: Identity Theory


Burke, P. J., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity Theory (1st ed.). Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.
Other References


Right now, this is just a selection of quotes. I intend to add commentary later.


Sociologists, like people in general, have attempted to represent the world as they see it, and have tried to build theories to account for human behavior and patterns of interaction among humans. In these theories, the agent is the entity that acts. Agents have a variety of properties in these properties help us understand both the different types of agents in the different kinds of actions they may take.


They are… aspects of human beings, and each aspect appears… to have a little to do with the other aspects


The self originates in the mind of persons and is that which characterizes an individual’s consciousness of his or her own being or identity. The self has the ability to take itself as an object, to regard and evaluate itself, to take account of itself and plan accordingly, it to manipulate itself as an object in order to bring about future states.


A major difference between traditional and structural symbolic interactionist theories is the stability of social structure. “We are born into a social world that is ongoing and organized, and we learn about this organization through socialization. Others (parents, educators, the media, and so forth) teach us what it is.”


Prominence explains one’s default hierarchy of identities. It is influenced by three factors: support, commitment, and for awards. Salience affects situational hierarchy were prominent affects underlying default hierarchy. “The prominence hierarchy is more enduring and stable” while “the salience hierarchy is rather fluid as role identities become temporarily activated in different situations”. Factors influencing salience include prominence, support, rewards, and perceived opportunity structure. p 41


For example, “in thinking of the people who are important to you, how many would you lose contact with if you did not do that will just activities you do?” “Of the people you know through your religious activities, how many are close friends?” Page 47


Just as a thermostat operates to control the temperature it “perceives,” and identity controls the meanings it perceives. Page 63


Each identity contains a set of meanings, which may be viewed as defining the character of the identity. This set of meetings is the identity standard.


For each of the many identity is that a person holds, there is a separate standard containing the meanings that defined the identity in question. Page 63

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