What is meant by identity?

Essay by 724082 January 2008

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What is meant by identity?Identity can be defined as how I see myself and how others see me. (Woodward, 2007, p7). Identity can be confused with personality. Where personality describes certain qualities individuals may have such as being confident and outgoing or shy and introvert, identity requires some degree of choice. Identity is marked by similarity and identities are formed through interaction between people. We choose to belong and identify with a particular identity or group. This sense of belonging involves having the 'same' identity as one group of people and recognising that others are 'different'.

Symbols are important in marking the ways in which we share identities with some people and differ from others, such as the language we speak, the clothes we wear such as a uniform, or a team scarf or badge. These are examples of how we identify with being the 'same' and also 'different.'There is a link between the personal and the social.

The personal being individuals taking up identities, and how we as individuals feel about whom we are, and the social is everyday interactions with others, and the societies in which we live. How we see ourselves does not always match how others see us, for example in the workplace, individuals may see themselves as hardworking and deserve promotion, where the employer may view them as an underachiever. This could also happen at a more personal level within family and friend relationships. We may well also have different conflicting identities such as being a parent, friend, employee, or student all at the same time. This is known as having 'multiple identities'. Multiple identities also include age, gender, class and ethnicity.

An example of the link between the personal and the social is in the way of an individual's passport. A passport gives information...