Identity Social Identity Is a Means to Research Paper

Download this Research Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Research Paper:


Social identity is a means to an end, the end being the maintenance of a community with flexible but strong boundaries. Ultimate objectives of social identity therefore include mutual protection against perceived threats, and strategic sharing of resources. This is why social identity often transcends geographic boundaries; in a globalized world, geo-political boundaries are actually less significant than social identity. The concept of social identity therefore becomes strongly connected with the sociological needs of in-group/out-group status and consciousness. Historically social identity was forged via top-down methods, within hierarchical societies. Usually the process of social identity formation occurred via political elites or rulers who "established their identity by differentiating themselves downwards," (Geller and Beruilly 47). Eventually, social identity becomes a self-perpetuating phenomenon with "ruled micro-communities" differentiating themselves "laterally from their neighbors," (Gellner and Breuilly 47).

In other words, an in-group/out-group consciousness seems essential to community construction and is embedded in the process. Social identity is therefore the means by which communities are created and maintained. Community is the end goal; that is, the pooling of shared resources to be used for sustenance purposes like infrastructure or common needs for food and governance. Or, the pooling of shared resources may be used for necessities like national defense. Social identity is the means to the end because without a shared social identity, there is no psychological or sociological cohesion. Sociological and psychological cohesion are ensured "by lines of cultural affinity embodied in distinctive myths, memories, symbols and values retained by a given cultural unit of population," (Smith 30). However artificial social identity may be, it proves crucial for social survival.

The dissolution of social identity leads to the breakdown of community. This is precisely what occurs in Ukraine now, as the geo-political entity becomes fragmented according to the overarching needs of the community in the construction of social identity. Social identity in Eastern Ukraine is allied with Russian ethnicity, far more than with Ukrainian national identity. In Western Ukraine, social identity is the means by which the nation-state of Ukraine is created. Yet "nationalism is not the awakening and assertion of these mythical, supposedly natural and given units" like ethnicity (Gellner and Breuilly 47).

Social and political change does not preclude the stability of social identity. Therefore, community construction and maintenance can survive great change, and even catastrophe. As Anthony Smith points out in National Identity, "a sense of Greek identity and common sentiments of ethnicity can be said to have persisted beneath the many social and political changes of the last two thousand years," (31). Social identity persists throughout successive generations, as it is passed on as core components of community. Shared values, rituals, and worldviews are qualitatively and structurally different from the top-down method of social identity construction that may have taken place prior to the modern nation-state.

As Anderson points out, the modern nation state's brand of "official nationalism" is not necessarily new but its manifestation depends on historical and cultural context (104). Official nationalism would have been extant in ancient Greece, as Smith points out. At its very basic definition, nationalism relies on both the top-down and the horizontal reinforcement of social identity. Social identity can therefore be viewed as a tool.

A constructivist approach to social identity shows that it is used as a means to the end of ensuring social stability and thus, individual security. Social identity with the goal of nationalism becomes "an anticipatory strategy adopted by dominant groups which are threatened with marginalization or exclusion from an emerging nationally-imagined community," (Anderson 104). It is therefore relatively easy to see how conflicts and cognitive dissonance brews in places in which social identity and national identity become divergent. Ethnic minorities in oppressive majority states; versus ethnic majorities in oppressive minority (apartheid model) states have become commonplace especially within the modern nation-state framework.

Smith coins the term "ethnies," however pretentious and irrelevant, to refer to the fusion of ethnicity with social identity. Ethnies are "constituted, not by lines of physical descent, but by the sense of continuity, shared memory and collective destiny," (Smith 30). Herein lies the core difference between ethnicity and bloodlines: the core ethnies of the Jews, for instance. There is a knowledge of some familial lineage, but…[continue]

Cite This Research Paper:

"Identity Social Identity Is A Means To" (2014, May 11) Retrieved October 22, 2016, from

"Identity Social Identity Is A Means To" 11 May 2014. Web.22 October. 2016. <>

"Identity Social Identity Is A Means To", 11 May 2014, Accessed.22 October. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Social Media as a Potential Tool in Conflict Resolution a Facebook...

    Social Media as a Potential Tool in Conflict Resolution: A Facebook Perspective Humans are social animals, and will usually dwell together in communities, based on their beliefs, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions which may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness. Community In sociology the word community is often used to refer to a group that is organized around common

  • Social Work Is a Field

    While he supported me in my endeavors, he raised many questions, >Why do you want to enter social work? How do you think you are going to provide for your family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to?" Deferring to socialization pressures that still impel them to fulfill the "breadwinner" role and avoid feminine characteristics, they may segregate themselves from women in the profession, selecting specialties or positions that

  • Social Black Experience a Survey

    " (Adams et al.) What the report went on to show was how a decades long deception was practiced on a race that was viewed primarily as a guinea pig for medical science. The Tuskegee Institute had been established by Booker T. Washington. Claude McKay had passed through there in 1912 to study agriculture (under the patronage of Walter Jekyll, a man who provided the basis for Robert Louis Stevenson's classic horror

  • Fashion as a Means of Expressing Identity

    Fashion and Identity The following statement is indeed true: "Fashion provides one of the most ready means through which individuals can make expressive visual statements about their identities" (Bennett, 2005: 96) as we have studied time and again throughout this class. Because fashion is in a sense one's experiential art: fashion distinguishes itself from all other art forms because one truly does live one's life in one's clothes. In this sense

  • Self Identity as Part of the

    Interestingly other sociologists take a different approach, noting social identity is many things, inclusive of the foundational "aspects of ones selfhood" (Brubaker & Cooper, 2000: 8). Self-identity seems the opposite note Brubaker & Cooper (2000) of solidarity and rather is more the result of "interactive development" amongst people that share similar beliefs, experiences and opinions. It is important to note however when one reflect on self-identity the many contexts in

  • Identity Class Has Been an

    This construction gave credence to the concept of class consciousness. Class consciousness is really class identity; it is the way entire groups of people conceive themselves as belonging to a whole. This understanding permeates the corpus and unites the initiated into a common group think. This group or class view is reinforced through the economic determinants that are at the foundation of the group's position. These determinants reinforce inequalities

  • Discipline Social Psychology As a Part Examination

    discipline social psychology. As a part examination, address items: a. Define social psychology. b. Discuss social psychology differs related disciplines (e. Social Psychology Social psychology is a study of individuals' act in a social context. The study is a branch of psychology that study's why and how people feel, think, and do things the way they do given the situations they face (Howard, 2000). In studying social psychology it is possible

Read Full Research Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved