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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds One of the things that I’m picking up from your discussion, so far, is the importance of three dimensions that have been mentioned here. To identity, to who we feel we are, at a particular time, above other identities that we hold, and to even the emotion that we relate to that identity at that time. One is time. The other is space. And the third is the action that we are all involved in or the type of activity or practise that we are all involved in.

Skip to 0 minutes and 37 seconds So, in terms of time, Sam mentioned about, we might feel that my identity as a mother may be more important in the morning when I’m preparing my kids to go to school and in the evening when I go home than is my identity as a social researcher. But there’s a different dimension of time here, too, which is more historical time. And all this understanding of who we are that has been created for each of us over the course of our lives, through institutions such as education, through the family, and so on. You feeling English does not happen on the one day in the morning of a particular year or whatever.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 seconds On the other respect - And I wasn’t instantly English the moment I was born. It was socially created. Right. The other is space. So where exactly? Everything that we do takes place somewhere. So where exactly does it take the practise, the activities that we are involved in, take place? And in what relation is that particular space where the activity takes place to other spaces, be it in the city or somewhere else? And the third thing is the type of activity. And you mentioned it already a few times. Whether you’re going to a football match or whether we are discussing the importance of political identities and marching in Northern Ireland or parading in Northern Ireland.

Identity and context

It is important to understand that we all have a range of identities that become pertinent at different parts of our lives in different places that we move through. Even throughout the day we become part of different social groups and thus exhibit different aspects of our identity.

In the video clip Dr Milena Komarova describes some of the different contexts in which the variety of identities that we hold might be exhibited. She suggests that our identities change over time, both through our everyday interactions, but also over our lives. Our identities are socially constructed through our up-bringing. Next, she discusses how identity is also influenced by the places, or the spaces, we are moving through. This is a theme we will return to frequently throughout the course. And finally, she explores the type of activities that we are involved in that shape our identity.

The key idea is that our identities are relational to the context that we are in. Your social identity if you are sitting having breakfast with your family is different from when you are amongst work colleagues later in the day or supporters of a sports team in the evening. Your identity is influenced depending on whether you are in your home, walking through a city centre or maybe waiting in your Church, Mosque or Temple. And your identity shifts depending on your activity as a parent, a student, a patient or maybe someone out on a demonstration protesting a cause you feel passionate about.

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This video is from the free online course:

Identity, Conflict and Public Space

Queen's University Belfast