Summarise two theories of identity and compare their usefulness for explaining the real-world issues discussed in Chapter 1, 'Identities and diversities'.
The study of identity is primarily focused on understanding people and the way they live their daily lives. Identity has become a common topic in contemporary society, be that through media, everyday talk or through psychological research. Due to the many ways in which identity can be presented it can become unclear as to what identity actually means. Of the three theories given, psychosocial and social constructionist theories of identity will be summarised and shown how these theories compare when studying the identity of those with physical disabilities.
Erik Erikson (later expanded by James Marcia) devised the psychosocial theory of identity, in which human beings go through eight stages of identity development (Phoenix, 2007). During these periods each person goes through a normative crisis; however stage five, adolescence is regarded as the most important stage as this is where identity must be achieved. In Erikson’s theory, psycho (self) conjointly with social (hence psychosocial) interactions are the factors that forge our identities. Psychosocial theory states that we all have a variety of identities that are combined to make one coherent vision of self. In this theory our social and personal identities are linked, due to the fact that we need others to view us the same way over a period of time. Psychosocial theorists believe that adolescence is a time of psychosocial moratorium as young people will try various identities until finally committing to a clear vision of who they are. In other words the adolescent has achieved ego identity. Role diffusion is how Erikson defined the failure to achieve ego identity (Phoenix, 2007). James Marcia was influential as he took Erikson’s ideas and devised a way in which they could be measured using a semi-structured interview. One of the...