Sociology Index


Social Identity, Identity Politics, Identity Crisis

Collective identity refers to a set of individuals' sense of belonging to the group. Disagreeing with Karl Marx's focus on production Max Weber suggests that social class, social status, and party form the three sources of collective identity. According to Alberto Melucci, collective identity is an interactive and shared definition produced by several interacting individuals who are concerned with the orientation of their action as well as the field of opportunities and constraints in which their action takes place. In 'The Process of Collective Identity' Alberto Melucci argues for collective identity as a useful analytical tool to explain social movements.

Collective Identity is the idea that through participating in social activities, individuals can gain a sense of belonging and in essence an "identity" that transcends the individual. Collective identity is “an individual’s cognitive, moral, and emotional connections with a broader community, category, practice, or institution.” The collective identity of a group are often expressed through the group’s cultures and social custums and traditions. Collective identity is only formed upon the group members’ acceptance of the identity. Though defining collective identity to be a self-central concept, they emphasize on its distinction from concepts like ideology, motivation, and personal identity. - Polletta, Francesca, and Jasper, James M. Collective Identity and Social Movements. Annual Review of Sociology, 2001.

Collective Identity and Social Movements
Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 27: 283-305 (August 2001)
Sociologists have turned to collective identity to fill gaps in resource mobilization and political process accounts of the emergence, trajectories, and impacts of social movements. Collective identity has been treated as an alternative to structurally given interests in accounting for the claims on behalf of which people mobilize.