Why is the idea of identity worth exploring? Is contemporary identity any different from any past or common-sense understandings of identity?
What follows is a summary gained from reflecting on my own experiences and studies, up to and including the transition to retirement.
Identity is a complex and strategic notion that sits at the centre of many current events and discussions. Identity appears to be crucial, yet is contentious. Identity defines, differentiates and distinguishes. It is central to our individual being yet, for many people, identity is seen as structured by social processes beyond the individual.
In recent decades, it appears that identity has become more central, as accounts seek to explain events as culturally rooted in individual concerns. Identities, and processes of identifications, have become important again.
Contemporary views of identity sustain a number of puzzles that are worth exploring.
This is the first of a pair of linked articles on identity. It focuses on identity and people, whilst the next article focuses on identity and place. Read more