Evaluate the Claim That Conflict Is ‘the Motor for Identity Change’.

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Evaluate the claim that conflict is ‘the motor for identity change’.

Within this essay, the topic of identity change in regards to conflict will be discussed with reference to key psychological theories, such as Erik Erikson, Michael Billig and Frantz Fanon. I will use evidence from an empirical research project, on a specific topic relating to new mothers and the identity changes they undergo through having a baby. I will touch upon the examples of conflict motors that Wendy Hollway touches upon within her chapter of identity change and identification (Exploring Social Lives, chapter 6).

Firstly, Erik Erikson (Erikson, cited in Hollway, 2009, p.252-256) can be seen to promote the claim that conflict is a motor for identity change through his theories on the subject, specifically showing how a person changes throughout life as they go through minor or major conflicts, which Hollway labels as ordinary conflict. These conflicts can result in ‘identity crises’, which can be seen as, whether positive or negative in outcome, as catalysts for identity change. Erikson explains that conflicts don’t have to be huge or mysterious to create the right context for this. They refer to any tensions between wishes or between events that makes the flow of life less smooth, less even, less effortless. Examples of these types of conflicts could be: someone not getting the correct change when purchasing an item at a store, or a man running for a bus and the bus driver deciding not to wait however close the man is, or veiled criticism that’s disguised as a joke in what would seem a pleasant conversation. These can all be subtle motors of change in a person, even though they might be smaller bumps than what we perceive conflict to be. Erikson takes into account that there will be differences in the extent of conflict at different times of life. Furthermore, some people will experience greater changes than others depending on what they have been through in life and what kind of...
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