Identity and diversity

Topics: Epistemology, Scientific method, Social constructionism Pages: 3 (1004 words) Published: May 2, 2014
Identity is a complex and diverse issue. As much as society, the media and academics try to debate its definition it is difficult to capture fully its meaning. According to Kroger (2000) identity is “a subjective feeling of self-sameness and continuity over time”. If research to date has shown anything it is that there are a number of ways to examine identity in psychology. Of the three Identity theorists available to us it is the Social Constructionist theory that has transformed the way we view and research identity today. It has provided us with an epistemological viewpoint that brings with it new methods of conducting identity research. This essay illustrates some of the strengths and weaknesses of this approach. The Social Constructionist approach has many strengths but its greatest is that it contributes epistemologically to the psychological study of human experiences. It suggests that any one environmental condition can produce many ‘knowledges’. (Willig, 2001) It highlights the central role of historical context, culture and language in the formation of a persons identity. The Social Constructionist theory views the person as embedded in society, continuously constructing multiple, diverse identities from a variety of social interactions. (Phoenix, 2007) Research by Keith, 1994 on ‘people with disabilities’ has shown that the individual differences within groups of people with the same impairment did not produce a single identity. To the contrary it showed that there is no “disabled” identity but instead multiple and diverse identity’s. “I am not my disability, I’m me”. (Keith, 1994) This research complements the psychosocial research by Erikson’s where the importance of community and social interaction in the formation of identity was first identified. However, psychosocial theory only sees the person as being affected by society (Phoenix, 2007) Both the Social Constructionists and the psychosocial theorists use qualitative research...
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