What is meant by Identity?

Published 11 Apr 2017

How identities are formed?

Identity involves a relation linking the personal and the social; a few dynamic commitment by individuals who take up identities; being alike as several individuals and diverse from others, as shown by signs and depictions. In building identities, we picture ourselves. We perform this by envisioning ourselves, thinking in signs. Who I am is dependent on how I am seen by others as well as how I see myself.
Control in shaping our own identities

The link between myself and others is not only indicated by the connection between how I sell myself and how other people see me, but also the connection between what I want to be and the influences, pressures and opportunities which are available. Material, social, and physical constraints prevent us form successfully presenting ourselves in some identity positions – constraints which include the perceptions of others.
The idea of identity encompasses a number of concepts of human society; a thought that we can have various power in building our personal identities. There are definitely, limitations which may lie in the outside world, where matter and societal issues may bound the level of society which persons may have. Lack of material possessions greatly restricts the chances we have, as we will reflect on in the status of dearth and monetary limitations.

Identity in giving a link involving the personal and the social

Identity is marked by similarity, which is of people like us, and by difference, of those who are not. Identity gives a connection among persons and the humanity in which they reside. Identity combines how I see myself and how others see me. Identity engages the inner and the individual, and the outside. It is a socially recognized position, recognized by other, not just by me.

Identity vs. Personality

Identity is different from personality in important respects. We may share personality traits with other people, but sharing an identity suggests some active engagement on our part. We choose to identify with a particular identity or group. Sometimes we have more choice than others. Identity requires some awareness on our part. Personality describes qualities individuals may have, such as being outgoing or shy, internal characteristics, but identity requires some element of choice. For example, I may go to football matches on Saturdays because I enjoy shouting loudly with a crowd of lively extroverts, but I go to watch Sheffield Wednesday because I want to identify with that particular team, to wear scarf and make a statement about who I am, and, of course, because I want to state that support one Sheffield team and not the other. We may be characterized by having personality traits, but we have to identify with – that is actively taken up – an identity.

What does the Passport says about us?

Our passports name, describe and place us. A passport describes an individual; it names one person. It also states to which group in particular which nation, that person belongs. Physical appearance is important, but changes over time. The personal identity of the named person includes their experience and life story. Continuity is important to our understanding of who we are, but changes suggest that identities are not fixed and constant: they change too.

A passport picks out other key aspects of identity, which include occupation, nationality and age, all of which position us and give us a place in the society in which we live. However, it does not say anything about how we occupy these positions or about what they mean to us.

How Identities are influenced by Social Factors

Identities are also illustrated in marking oneself as having the same identity as one group of people and a different one from others. A situation for instance, where you meet someone for the first time and, in trying to find out who they are, you ask questions and turned out that they also came from same place as you are. In such circumstances we are trying to find out what makes up this person and also what makes them the same as you, as sharing an identity. Or consider a situation where, travelling abroad, hearing the voices of those who speak your own language, you feel both a sense of recognition and of belonging.

It is impossible to have an identity as a successful career woman if one is without a job and there are no employment opportunities. Other limitations to our autonomy may reside within us, for instance in the bodies which we inhabit, as illustrated by the ageing process, by physical impairments, illness and the actual size and shape of our bodies.

The way we construct our identities is strongly influenced by a set of often rather stereotypically feminine and masculine characteristics and traits that we often associate with gender categories, with women and with men. But women and men are not each made from a single mould. There are many different kinds of women and men, and different traits may apply to some more than others. Behind the apparent simplicity of two genders, there is a diversity of gender characteristics, and many different influences are at work.

Identity, then, includes people’s notions of who they are, of what kind of people they are, and their relationships with others. It is therefore closely related to the groups – the social categories that they see themselves as belonging to.

The pattern of employment on the other hand, and the distribution of incomes are both important structures that shape our identity, as is the way we spend our incomes (our lifestyle). However, there is no simple causal link between what we have and do, and who we are. Link between these economic structures and identity is mediated by representation.


We therefore had set out some of the important concepts involved in addressing questions of identity and difference and have thus begun to provide a framework for the concept of identity. It has looked at reasons for addressing questions of identity and difference and considered the way in which questions about identity arise at this point in the ‘circuit’ of cultural of the processes involved in the production of meanings through representational systems further by engaging with questions about the positioning of subjects and the constructions of identities within symbolic systems.

List of References:

  • WOODWARD, K. (2004) Questioning Identity: Gender, Class, Ethnicity, London and New York, Routledge.
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