Sociological Accounts on Individuals Acquiring Their Identities
The concept of identity has been defined as 'A sense of self that
develops as the child differentiates from parents and family and takes
a place in society' (Jary and Jary, 1991.) Through the process of
socialization, individuals acquire their identities, but this issue
cause different understandings according to sociological accounts.
Here, I will show these accounts, and make an analysis understood by
The definition refers to the sense that some one has or who they are,
of what is most important about them. Important sources of identities
are likely to include nationality, ethnicity, sexuality (homosexual,
heterosexual, bisexual), gender and class. (Collins Haralambos and
Holborn, , chapter 12, p 885)
The main sociological accounts on this issue are: Functionalism,
Symbolic Interactionism, Marxism, Feminism and Giddens' concept of
Functionalism is too deterministic. It emphasizes the roles and
identities to relatively passive human are shaped by the needs of the
social system. It tends to see all the identities as passive
identities (e.g., class identity) and give no choice to individuals
about how they behave.
Functionalism has a conservative view despite of social change. It
neglect the impose roles in society, which force people to do what
they do not want to do. They will not always bear the impose roles on
themselves and social system.
Additionally, the conflicts between different groups of people exist
in society, but functionalism seems to not see it. It is a potential
energy to broke the status quo by people who have a impose role and
Symbolic Interactionism sees the actor as more active in acquiring an
identity. It claim to society has a range of diverse social roles and
identities (e.g. the roles of students and teachers). Every role has
certain behaviours, and certain rules. However, these roles can
change. Symbolic Interactionism sees identities as more flexible.
The issue is interactionists underestimate the range of human
behaviours which are restricted. The fact is not so ideal as what they