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SOC 202 (82)
Chapter 6

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SOC 202
Stephen Muzzatti

Chapter 6 – Identity and the Body Identity - a necessary fiction? - Transamerica, the film is interesting as a paradigmatic exploration of the traditional Western theme of identity - Popular culture testifies to the centrality of identity on producing meaning and pleasure in out everyday lives - Essentialists theories posit identity as a fundamental, unchanging core of meaning that precedes and transcends culture and politics o Through history and natures, where history is seem as an unbroken line of development whose truth is unquestionable o And on the other hand other socialists say that cultural and political circumstances are where identities are produced - Identity as something inherent within an individual or group, foregrounding instead the complex process through which narratives of identity express broader social relations, including and especially relations of power - Over the course of the last century, development in the field of psychology, political theory, and philosophy have highlighted some of the logical and practical problems with essentialism, while offering variations on constructivist models of identity - Genetics might establish broad parameters for what we can do, think, or feel, but it is culture that give us the ingredients to establish the story lives of who we think we are - Embodied subjectivity: contemporary practises such as health and fitness, regimes and forms of body modification such as tattooing, piercing, and plastic surgery The History of Identity – Some Different theories - The idea of the individual as a unique self, with deep psychological needs and preferences, held no currency in a social context in which the meaning of an individual life was subordinate to the issue of the survival of society as a whole Identity and the Unconscious - Grounds of identity was the field of psychoanalysis - The stages of identity development that are a critical precondition for the individuals integration into society - Identities are not pre-given, or natural, but rather produced in order to manage chaotic fears and desires whose expression is socially for forbidden Freudian Theory of Psychosocial Development - Two key moments o The recognition of sexual difference o The acquisition of language Identity and Ideology - The ley lesion in Freud for understanding identity is not that it has no grounding in reality; it is that the stable and coherent selves we articulate to the world and to ourselves are constructions, a bit like dams built to control and manage the torrent of chaotic drives and impulses that cannot be assimilated to societyMarxist Theories of Identity - He understood identity as the construction of identity as a response to underlying forces of which the individual is largely unconscious - Identity is understood in one sense as a kind of mythical armour people assumed as a way of coping with the gap between their needs and desires and the social economy - For Marx, the primary force in producing identity and consciousness as a kind of empty protective shell was ideology - Ideology played a hugely significant role in securing the accpectance of an exploited working class by promoting a belief in the naturalness of the capitalist order and in the freedom of the individual within it - While earlier concepts of ideology saw it as a kind of “false consciousness” Louis Althusser - Ideological state Apparatuses (ISA) though which ideology is reproduced - Rather than being absolutely determined by the economy, the realm of culture and ideology, as it id disseminated through institutions such as schools, universities, and the media, come to have a semi-autonomous or independent role in shaping individuals and society - Althusser focused on the process he termed “ interpellation”, by which individuals are compelled, though a mix of individual psychological and social imperatives, to identify with social roles offered them - Althussers locats the roots of this process of identification in the early stages of socialization, in particular the acquisition of language - Lusan identifies as the mirror stage, the moment in which the child sees his reflection in the mirror and identifies with that image All Selves Are not created Equal - Identity may be an illusion, but it is an illusion that works for some people in a way that it doesn’t for others. This inequality is highlighted explicitly in Marx theory, which shows that the stakes of ideology are different depending on what position one occupies in the class structure, and more implicitly in psychoanalysis, where sexual difference determines what identities and authorities are available to whom, based on physiological sex characteristics Feminist Theories - Assigned a role in culture that is defined not autonomous or self-sufficient but as always in relation to “other” than the normative category of man women do not inhabit the myth of identity as comfortably as men generally do Race – The Empty Signifier - The function of race as a marker of identity did not enter Freud Theory - While masculinity was the explicit standard by which to analyse normal human development , whiteness operated implicitly in the same way: an assumed norm whose claims to universalism betrayed the Euro centrism of early practitioners of psychoanalysis , Frantz Fanon, who challenged psychoanalytic theory to take account of the role of race, and the associated practise of racism, in defining identityHegemonic Masculinity - The whole concept of identity to a mythic masculine norm - Economic changes associated with globalizations issued a new challenge to conventional ideas of masculinity in North America - In developed countries, the move from traditionally masculine industrial labour to softer, so called women’s jobs has been accompanied by a loss of wages and job security (service sector jobs are far less likely to be unionized) - A hegemony model of masculinity characterized by “amorality and aggression “ - This model is hegemonic, in the sense that it confers positive value on one exclustive idea of maleness, and because its reinforcement of certain characteristics - Like other hegemonic ideas, the persistence of myths of muscularity is not assured, but must always be shored up against resistant myths and realities - Others forms of popular culture lay bare the crazy incongruity of traditional ideas about “real” men and the circumstances f contemporary men’s lives Performativity - Some gender theorists employ the concept of performativity to challenge widely held assumptions of a natural connection between biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity - The concept of performance, which is based on re-presentation, playing not being, throws into doubt the solidarity of the identity on
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