Intro Soc Paper Identity

Intro Soc Paper Identity - Exploring Identity The term...

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Exploring Identity The term identity is one that is not easily defined. It is a word that appears frequently in sociological conversation, and to different people it holds different meaning. Despite the ambiguity which surrounds identity, most people would agree that everyone has one. Some define it as the way we view ourselves, some refer to identity as ones unique personality, and still others define it as a persisting entity which all people have. Two sociologists, Peter Berger and W.E.B. DuBois, have their own conceptualizations of identity. Berger’s concept of identity stems from his ideas of social roles, and DuBois’s concept deals with the idea of consciousness. In my opinion, identity relies on both roles and consciousness, and it cannot be fully understood without considering the two together. When examined closely, it becomes apparent that the two views have some similarities, and together are able to define multiple types of identity, including ethnic and race. To understand Peter Berger’s thoughts on identity, it is important to first define social roles. For Berger, a social role is a “typified response to a typified expectation” (Berger 95). What he means by this is that society holds certain expectations for each and every one of us, and we respond to these expectations in certain ways that are also defined by society. Berger argues that these roles must be developed over time, primarily during ones youth. When children play they mimic different roles, allowing them to understand the importance and significance of their own roles. From this point on, repetition allows individuals to internalize and define their roles. This internalization of ones role is what gives us our identity according to Berger. In his view, “Every role in society has attached to it a certain identity” (Berger 98). Therefore we can easily
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Pinto conclude that he views identity as something determined by society. It is not something innate that we are born with; it is something we acquire and develop. Berger sums his view quite efficaciously saying “Identity is socially bestowed, socially sustained, and socially transformed” (Berger 98). This may at first be a hard concept to grasp since many people like to think of their identity as something unique to them; something very
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course SO SO100 taught by Professor Demetriou during the Fall '06 term at BU.

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Intro Soc Paper Identity - Exploring Identity The term...

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