Sociology Index

Social Identity

Collective Identity

Social identification is how we define ourselves in terms and categories that we share with other people. Social identities assume some commonalities with others.

“Identity” is used to refer to a sense of integration of the self, that is, different aspects come together in a unified whole. Associated with Erik Erikson's term “identity crisis” which was part of his stage model of psychological development. In contemporary times, we have "identity politics," where the reference is typically to different political positions that are taken by members of ethnic and nationality groups.

The term “social identity” refers specifically to those aspects of a person that are defined in terms of his or her group memberships. Although most people are members of many different groups, only some of those groups are meaningful in terms of how we define ourselves.

To share a social identity with others does not necessarily mean that we know or interact with everyother member of the designated category. It does mean, however, that we believe that we share numerous features with other members of the category.

Types of Social Identity
Reflecting the ways in which people connect to other groups and social categories we can define five distinct types of social identification: ethnic and religious identities, political identities, vocations and avocations, personal relationships, and stigmatized groups.
Other social identities can be defined more generally, tied to a generic group. Thus to identify as a doctor, for example, implies a shared definition with countless others. Another defining characteristic of occupational identities is that they are chosen by the person. Social identities such as ethnicity or gender are ascribed categories, given to one at birth. Social identities also differ in the status or value that is attached to them.

Eamples of types of Social Identity:
Asian American, Artist, Athlete, Alcoholic, Environmentalist, Feminist, Homeless person, Jewish, Military veteran, Mother, Republican, Parent, Person with AIDS, Psychologist, Southerner, Teenager, West Indian, Widow.