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What is identity?

We are interested in why some identities become more important than others and why we are more emotional about some identities than others.

Here, we explore what we mean by identity and how this relates to the social groups that we all live in.

It is an essential part of the human condition that we have a sense of self and sense of who we are. It is how we conceptualise ourselves. Our identity provides us with our understanding of our place in the world.

Dr. Sam Pehrson describes our identity as ‘relational’, that is, ‘how you think about you in relation to others’. Sam describes how there are two aspects to our identity:

  1. Those aspects that give us our uniqueness in respect to others, and;
  2. Our social identity, as Sam explains ‘what I have in common, what I share with other people, and also what I have different, not from other individuals, but from other groups’.

We are predominantly interested in the second aspect of identity, our social identity. It is an essential part of the human condition that we live in groups. Consequently, a large part of our identity relates to the range of social groups that we are in, our place in those social groups, or the social groups that others place us in, and the groups that we are not in. As Sam puts it, ‘rather than being a sense of me or I, it is a sense of us or we’.

We all carry with us a wide range of identities. We are interested in why some identities become more important than others and why we are more emotional about some identities than others. These emotions help bond us to important social groups.

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Identity, Conflict and Public Space

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