Identity Theories and Their Usefulness Regarding Real World Issues

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Summarise two theories of identity and compare their usefulness for explaining real world issues. Question one. Everybody has an idea of who they are as people and the character traits that differentiate them from others. This essay seeks to summarise and compare two identity theories and compare their usefulness when they are applied to real world issues, specifically bullying in schools and adult racism. The two theories that will be examined are firstly Erikson's theory of psychosocial identity (PIT) and secondly Tajfel's social identity theory (SIT). Firstly, a description of Erik Erikson's psychosocial identity theory. Erikson believed that identities are shaped with the help of the community in which children and adolescents lived. For Erikson, 'identity involved the development of a stable, consistent, and reliable sense of who we are'. This quote suggests that Erikson viewed identity at an individual level. He saw identity as being a lifelong process that involved resolving normative crisis between individual needs and social demands. ( Phoenix, A,, pg 53) Erikson had identified eight stages of identity development, beginning in infancy to old age, Although he viewed identity as a lifelong process, he believed the fifth stage to be the most significant. This stage embarks upon adolescence. Erikson seen adolescence as a period of 'Psychosocial Moratorium' meaning that it is a socially accepted period of time for young people to try out different roles so that ultimately they discover who they are. Life decisions have to be tackled during this period, i.e. employment and sexual relationships. The end goal is to have established a secure feeling of who and what one is. Erikson's term for this is 'Ego Identity' If young people failed to achieve a secure ego identity, problems could arise, such as the inability to hold down one specific job and constantly

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