social identity


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social identity

(SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY) those aspects of the individual's self-concept which are derived from membership of and identification with social categories, e.g. race, gender, religion, occupation, and which are made salient in contexts where those social categories assume importance. Associated with each descriptive social identity is an evaluation which imparts positive or negative status. The social identity approach in modern social psychology originated in the work of Henri Tajfel, and his attempt to explain intergroup discrimination and conflict in ‘minimal group’ conditions, i.e. where group members are aware only of their group membership or category Social categorization is followed by a social comparison process. In this in-group, members seek to maintain a positive social identity by comparing themselves with the out-group on dimensions which ensure a favourable self-concept is retained, creating positive distinctiveness. Where this is difficult, perceptions of the out-group may be distorted, resulting in PREJUDICE. Minority groups in society face a situation where their social identities are largely or wholly negative. Tajfel and Turner (1979) have described a number of different strategies minorities are likely to adopt as a means to attain more positive social identities. Social mobility strategies involve attempts to leave the minority group; social creativity strategies seek to change the dimension, value or focus of the comparison process; and social competition strategies challenge or instigate direct conflict with the majority Social identity theorists explicitly reject the notion of individualism and REDUCTIONISM in social psychology that has, for example, led to attempts to explain prejudice in TRAIT terms (e.g. AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY), or in terms of individual personality dynamics (e.g. SCAPEGOATING). While individuals do obviously act in terms of personal identities in many situations, the presence of salient out-group members is much more likely to foster behaviour consistent with social identity and in-group membership. Cognitive explanations of prejudice, such as STEREOTYPING, are also rejected on reductionist grounds, and because they fail to explain why comparisons between in- and out-group always occur on dimensions favourable to the in-group.

Studies in a number of contexts have confirmed the appropriateness of the social identity perspective as an explanation of intergroup behaviour; e.g. Brown (1978) on occupational groups seeking to maintain wage differentials; Giles and Johnson (1981) on the behaviour of ethnolinguistic groups. More recently the approach has also been used successfully to explain intragroup processes such as CONFORMITY, minority influence, and group polarization.

References in periodicals archive ?
The research report, "Delivering the Psychological Benefits That Drive Employee Loyalty," published by Chadwick Martin Bailey, a subsidiary of global engagement agency ITA Group, notes that by improving the delivery of three other psychological benefits - functional benefits, cultural identity benefits and social identity benefits - companies can also drive better employee engagement.
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"Bias-based bullying is when children are bullied because of some aspect of their social identity, whether that's race, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation," said study author Kelly Lynn Mulvey.
Such issues are grounded in the cultural and social identity development of individuals.
Discussion touches on culture shock, women in other cultures, scholarly identity versus social identity, and pedagogical autonomy in international higher education systems.
Thankfully, our social identity doesn't define who we are.
At the First Table: Food and Social Identity in Early Modern Spain.
One of the most widely applied approaches to studying identity in social psychology is guided by the framework of social identity theory, which asserts that one's self-concept is comprised of both individual and social identities (Tajfel & Turner, 1979, 1986).

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