Vignoles et al. 2011: Introduction: Toward an Integrative View of Identity


Vignoles, V.L., Schwartz, S.J. and Luyckx, K., (2011). Introduction: Toward an integrative view of identity. In Handbook of identity theory and research (pp. 1-27). Springer New York.


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

Individual or personal identity refers to aspects of self-definition at the level of the individual person (p. 3).


Relational identity refers to one’s roles vis-à-vis other people, encompassing identity contents such as child, spouse, parent, co-worker, supervisor, customer, etc. Relational identity refers not only to these roles, but also to how they are defined and interpreted by the individuals who assume them (p. 3).


Collective identity refers to people’s identification with the groups and social categories to which they belong, the meanings that they give to these social groups and categories, and the feelings, beliefs, and attitudes that result from identifying with them (p. 3).


To paraphrase and update a famous quote from William James (1890; see Dittmar, Chapter 31, this volume), the contents of a person’s identity can include not only her mind, body, friends, spouse, ancestors, and descendents, but also her clothes, house, car, and the contents of her bank account. In other words, people view and treat as part of their identities not only social entities beyond their individual selves, but also material artifacts (Belk, 1988; Mittal, 2006), as well as significant places (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). Thus, beyond individual, relational, and collective identities, people might also be said to have material identities (p. 4).


Viewed through the lens of an individual person, identity consists of the confluence of the person’s self-chosen or ascribed commitments, personal characteristics, and beliefs about herself; roles and positions in relation to significant others; and her membership in social groups and categories (including both her status within the group and the group’s status within the larger context); as well as her identification with treasured material possessions and her sense of where she belongs in geographical space (p. 4).


In any given cultural environment and historical moment, identity categories such as doctor, husband, father, Cuban-American, or American citizen have particular meanings that have been constructed and established through social discourse—and these meanings may also be debated and deconstructed. In this sense, identities can be viewed as ways of thinking (or, in some perspectives, ways of talking) that come to prominence in particular social and historical contexts, independently of the perspective of any one individual (Rattansi & Phoenix, 2005). The range of identity categories available in a given social context, and the meanings that are given to them, are constructed through a confluence of social processes over historical time (Burkitt, 2004) (p. 4).


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