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Self, identity and culture

Shridhar Sharma

pp. 117-124

"Identity" is an umbrella term used throughout the social sciences to describe a person's conception and expression of individuality. Identity is also a source of meaning for people. It is a developmental process occurring within the personality and has a powerful socio-cultural context within which it is formed. It refers to the capacity for self-reflection and awareness of self. Identity is, thus, the entire personality of a human being in his uniqueness, with psychological, biological and societal nature. Identity formation is a universal feature of human experience. In this respect, the cultural domain of identity is known as "ethnic identity". Till recently the cultural identity was something people had as an undisturbed existential possession, in which there exists an inheritance of continuity with the past. It is also important to state that "self" is distinct from identity. From the vantage point of self-psychology, there are two areas of interest: the process by which a self is formed (the "I") and the cultural context of the schematic which composes the self-concept (the "me"). It is the process which defines individuals to others and themselves. Pieces of the entity's actual identity include a sense of continuity and a sense of uniqueness from others and a sense affiliation. This chapter will address the concept of identity and identity formation in cultural context.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-81-322-1587-5_10

Full citation:

Sharma, S. (2014)., Self, identity and culture, in S. Menon & A. Sinha (eds.), Interdisciplinary perspectives on consciousness and the self, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 117-124.

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