Topics: Sociology, Sigmund Freud, Erving Goffman Pages: 3 (927 words) Published: December 7, 2012
Identity refers to the construction of individual and society's characteristics by which we are symbolized and recognised as to who we are. In this assignment I intend to explore the meaning of identity. In considering the link between personal and social, I will examine the process of identity formation, and discuss the extent in which we are able to control and shape our own identities.

The definition of identity has been contested by many social scientists, as it has many influences, which has to be considered, such as, gender, social class, nationality, physical appearances, religious and ethnicity. Initially, we acquire some aspects of identity through official documents, such as birth certificate, where in order to exit, a birth must be registered and categorized by name and gender, which can never be legally changed and influence our entire identity formation, as to the expected manner within feminine and masculine characteristics (Woodward, 2004, p.44). For instance, Madan Sarup uses passports from different stages of his life to convey some aspects of his identity. All three passports reveal his name, gender and categorized him as to what nation he belongs to, which suggests continuity in his identity. Furthermore, the passports also reveal his physical appearance, which changes with age. The question 'which is the real you?' by Sarup's friend, suggests that identities are not fixed but changing over time, as well as our possibility to acquire multiple identities. However, official documents do not portrait our feelings and life experiences, which are also important in the structure of identity. (Woodward, 2004, p.9)

Identity formation is distinguished by a combination of how I see my self and how others see me, which was explored by a social philosopher, George Herbert Mead in 1930s. Mead argued that identities are formed through the link between individuals and the social world that they live in. He emphasised on our ability to imagine and be...
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