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Carleton University
SOCI 1001

Sociology Final Study NotesNotes after the midtermLecture 8 Identity Crime and DevianceIdentity in the late modern age Important Giddens theory of identity argues that this last point ie sameness universality has erodedIdentity is now selfidentityIdentitySelfidentity reflexive The fundamental part of identity is choice lifestyle implies choice and pluralism and lifestyle is the core to creating the concept of the self Identity politics are less about universal experiences and more about recognition of different experiencesFundamental component of construction of selfidentity is choiceChoice is the antithesis of tradition habit and custom which structures peoples lives and channels their decisionsIndividualism was culturally relative ex Medieval Europe Identity was fixed determined by inheritance eg family lineage gender social statusPoint is that the fundamental importance of the individual in postindustrial or latemodern capitalist society is unique andworth considering Conventional Definition of identityOne the notion of uniqueness Giddens emphasizes this one Identity is the name the number or the essential character by which one can be identified or can be stolen in identity theft Two we also use identity in everyday speech to speak about our essence or our true selfWhen we speak of our identity as our essence or our essential self we mean the core parts of our personality which have more or less remained stable over timeOur essential identity is waiting to be discoveredThree we tend to use identity to recognize sameness Giddens deemphasises this oneSo to identify is to say you are the same as a particular group in crucial important wayseg to say you identify as a woman is to recognize that important aspects of the experience of being a woman are universal and shared by virtue of belonging to the same sex or gender Giddens and Self Identity Giddens does not think that individualism or individuality or the idea that every person a unique and special individual is peculiar to Western civilization This is important because there is a tradition of Orientalist scholarship which suggests that Eastern societies lack a culture of individual rights and individual liberty which hinders democracy and favours despotism and dictatorship Giddens Theory of Individualism 10 Steps 1 The individual is responsible for making their own choices and creating their own identityWe are not what we arewe are what we make ourselves Not as much emphasis on birthright Strangers ask us what we do not who our parents are2 Reinterpretation of the past is crucial to this building and rebuilding of our selfidentity We reevaluate the significance of past events based on new knowledge new circumstances as well as new dreams Important construction of self identity is a very inward looking process 3 The process of building an identity is continuous and pervasivea kind of obsession We are continuously asking ourselves What am I thinkingWhat am I feelingWhere am I goingAm I breathing normallyDo I look okayAm I saying too much not enough 4 Autobiographies are a modern invention Autobiography represents the modern attitude towards identity building critical selfinterrogation Autobiography is less about glory or immortality than an honest and deeply personal reflection on the formative events in your life Autobiographies are by definition inward looking It is an individualized version of immortality 5 Building a selfidentity implies asserting control over ones life courseAs much as possible modern people seek to control timeWe strive to plan for and impose order on the future6 The construction of selfidentity is extended to the physical body Awareness of ones body is a crucial dimension of this constant and pervasive selfinterrogation Eastern religions use meditation exercise and fasting to silence or transcend the ego to move beyond our limited and individual consciousness in order to generate a higher order spiritual awareness eg fasting is designed to force individuals to transcend their own selfish desires and needs and commit themselves to the wider community In modern capitalist societies today exercise and diet are used to construct a unique the self to interrogate the self and to build a unique selfidentitythe reverse of transcending the self7 Construction of selfidentity involves letting go of the past and overcoming unproductive emotional states Past events which are interpreted as limiting selfdevelopment must be overcome past is interpreted as a problememphasis on looking forward 8 Morality today is about authenticity We understand being good as being true to ourselvesGood people are people who are quote honest with themselvesimplicit command be yourself or else People justify all manner of cruel and destructive behaviour with expressions like I have to be true to myself or I am just being honest for which the subtext is I am just being honest with myself and thats what is really important9 Life is seen as a series of passages which can be drawn into our autobiography We construct a story or a narrative of how we came to be who we are eg leaving home attending university starting a new career confronting new employment starting another career getting married having children getting divorced etc10 The construction of selfidentity is ultimately selfreferentialOnly significant thread in the narrative people construct of their lives is their own life Authenticity is a selfreferential moral code Paul Gilroy identity is not about returning to your rootsInstead it is about coming to terms with your routes Stuart Hallcomplex idea of identity as an intersection of economic class ethnicity and race nations citizenship and politicsthe personal is political eg the individual adaptation of a green lifestyle can change the fate of the planet
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