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Related: character - difference - gender - individual - other - psychology - same - self - volksgeist

While in current usage identity refers to the quality of being different (as in "I want to be different, just like my friends"), originally identity referred to the quality of being the same. [Aug 2006]

An identity based on power never has to develop a sense of itself as responsible, it has no sense of its limits except as those are perceived in opposition to others. The blankness of the identity of empire covers an ambivalence which is often unconscious, and which, consequently, can most readily be perceived in the representations it creates of the colonial "other" (Pajaczkowska & Young, 1992, p. 202).


  • The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known.
  • The set of behavioral or personal characteristics by which an individual is recognizable as a member of a group.
  • The quality or condition of being the same as something else.
  • The distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity; individuality. --The American Heritage® Dictionary

    Identity politics

    Identity politics is the politics of group-based movements claiming to represent the interests and identity of a particular group, rather than policy issues relating to all members of the community. The group identity may be based on ethnicity, class, religion, sex, sexuality or other criteria. Although most political parties target particular constituencies or demographics more than others, this is typically not the core part of their ideology.

    Identity politics can be a form of victim politics, where a group identifies themselves as oppressed and seek either to end that oppression, or to use that oppression to justify their actions in other spheres. Even members of majority groups may want to see themselves as oppressed in order to use such justification.

    Groups may also engage in supremacist politics, where they seek to dominate other groups for what they see as legitimate reasons.

    A middle way between these two extremes is separatism, where one group seeks to isolate itself from other groups. This is rarely possible in practical politics.

    Nationalism in general may be regarded as a form of identity politics within the wider international community.

    Examples of identity politics within nations:

    • Feminism
    • Gay rights
    • Masculism
    • White separatism
    • Black separatism
    • Zionism
    --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_politics [Oct 2004]

    Social and cultural identity

    Social identity is a theory formed by Henri Tajfel and John Turner to understand the psychological basis of intergroup discrimination. It is composed of three elements:

    • Categorization: We often put others (and ourselves) into categories. Labeling someone as a Muslim, a Turk, or soccer player are ways of saying other things about these people.
    • Identification: We also associate with certain groups (our ingroups), which serves to bolster our self-esteem.
    • Comparison: We compare our groups with other groups, seeing a favorable bias toward the group to which we belong.
    --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_identity [May 2005]

    Cultural identity is the (feeling of) identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as far as she/he is influenced by her/his belonging to a group or culture. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_identity [May 2005]

    see also: culture - discrimination - sociology - group - bias - category - influence - other - self


    [French identité, from Old French identite, from Late Latin identits, from Latin idem, the same (influenced by Late Latin essentits, being,, and identidem, repeatedly), from id, it. See i- in Indo-European Roots.] --The American Heritage® Dictionary

    Identity in the digital age

    1. Life on the Screen : Identity in the Age of the Internet - Sherry Turkle [Amazon US]
      "Thus, more than twenty years after meeting the ideas of Lacan, Foucault, Deleuze, and Guattari, I am meeting them again in my new life on the screen. But this time, the Gallic abstractions are more concrete. In my computer-mediated worlds, the self is multiple, fluid, and constituted in interaction with machine connections; it is made and transformed by language; sexual congress is an exchange of signifiers; and understanding follows from navigation and tinkering rather than analysis"

    2. Hanging Out in the Virtual Pub: Masculinities and Relationships Online - Lori Kendall [Amazon US]
      Lori Kendall is one of the first to explore the brave new world of social relations as they have evolved on the Internet. In this highly readable ethnography, she examines how men and women negotiate their gender roles on an online forum she calls BlueSky. The result is a first-rate analysis of the emerging social phenomenon of Internet-mediated communication and a ground-breaking study of the social and cultural effects of a medium that allows participants to assume identities of their own choosing. Despite the common assumption that the personas these men and women craft for themselves bear little resemblance to reality, Kendall discovers that the habitués of BlueSky stick surprisingly close to the facts of their actual lives and personalities.

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