Evaluate the Claim That Identity Is Determined by Relationships

Topics: Sociology, Identity, Social psychology Pages: 5 (1685 words) Published: October 26, 2012
Evaluate the claim that Identity is determined by relationships

Essay Plan
First Paragraph
Define Identity
Quote Changing identities
Gender identity
Mines (DVD)

Second Paragraph
New mothers
Gous quote
Quote pg 254, 269 and 265
Body image
Racial – Fanon - 278

Third Paragraph
Social psychology
Michael Billig – quote 274
National Identity – 212
Freud - quote

Fourth Paragraph
Quote – 252
Erik Erikson

Evaluate the claim that Identity is determined by relationships

Definitions are important as they influence how we think and how our lives are shaped, just as our identities make us who we are, with different relationships pushing us in different directions. Aspects of our lives change as well as our routines, habits, bodies and relationships. We each have multiple identity positions with national identities playing a visible and important role in the way our social life is organized, ‘so much of how we inhabit the world is dependent on our identities’. (Changing Identities, 2009, CD2) The roles and relationships we form in our lives from our families to our jobs will all affect our identities but do they determine the paths of our lives. Our Identities are formed from an early age and continue to develop throughout our lives. They can be altered through many things, for example the relationships we form with other people, or through the changing of our jobs as described in the mining village of Rhondda when the mines were closed and the men made unemployed (Inequalities and differences, 2009). The men described their identities as being unknown through the loss of their jobs. In that particular town gender played a huge part. The men went out to the mines while the women stayed home, so when the men lost their association with the mine they struggled to find out “who they actually were” and they had to form some new relationships in order to feel ‘manly’ again. This kind of gender identity is common and explains why it has taken so long for women to be accepted into a ‘mans’ world. Determining relationships starts from a young age, when a mother conceives and gives birth to her first child. They develop an emotional bond and understanding that was not accessible before becoming a mother. Once new mothers have their babies they are put into a brand new situation of being in the middle of three generations. ‘They are thus simultaneously ‘self-as-mother,’ ‘self-as-child,’ and therefore ‘mother-of-self-as-child’ (Gous 2004, cited in Hollway, 2009, pg 257). The topic of new mothers and the relationships with their babies is so interesting that in 2003 the government-funded organization ‘The Economic and Social Research Council’ decided to invest over £4 million in a program of research entitled ‘Identities and Social Action’. They selected 20 new mothers as research participants and wanted to observe the identity change in becoming a mother for the first time. All participants varied in age, living situations and class. They had various social categories and different support systems behind them. ‘The aim of the program was to fund high-quality research on identity and related issues, including marginalized identities and social conflict, and the links between identity, political and civic involvement’. (Hollway, 2009, pg 254). Each of the participants was interviewed three times, from the late stages of pregnancy and then ending when their child turned one. The life changing nature of becoming a mother was observed and one woman described her whole persona as starting to change, and how she was trying to be funnier and more creative in order to impress her baby. This shows not just a change in relationship but also a change in practice. She wants to be a good mother and wants her baby to feel she is doing a good job and so she changes things about herself to seem more impressive. New mothers not only have to adapt to the intense relationship that is formed between...

References: ‘Changing Identities’ (2009) Exploring Social Lives (Audio CD 2), Milton Keynes, The Open University
Inequalities and differences, (2009) Exploring Social Lives, (Audio CD3), Milton Keynes, The Open University.
Hollway.W (2009) ‘Identity change and identification’, in Taylor, S., Hinchliffe, S., Clarke, J. and Bromley, S. (eds) Exploring Social Lives, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
Clarke.J (2009) ‘Making national identities: Britishness in question’, in Taylor, S., Hinchliffe, S., Clarke, J. and Bromley, S. (eds) Exploring Social Lives, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
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