Thursday, 23 May 2013

How is identity formed?

  • Jacques Lacan – psychoanalyst. Identified the Mirror Stage, where a child begins to develop their identity from what it sees (1936).  The mirror stage describes the formation of the Ego via the process of identification, the Ego being the result of identifying with one's own specular image.  Cinema and television act as a distorting mirror for spectators who then (mis) recognise themselves.
  • Foucault: An 'identity' is communicated to others in your interactions with them, but this is not a fixed thing within a person. It is a shifting, temporary construction.
  • Gary Giddens (1991) claims that mediated experiences make us reflect upon and rethink our own self-narrative in relation to others: the self is not something we are born with, and it is not fixed.  Instead, the self is reflexively made- thoughtfully constructed by the individual. We all choose a lifestyle.
  • Henry Jenkins (1992): We need to interact in order to form our identity - with other people – or with the media; this can involve partaking in an event (in reality, or virtually) with people with whom we feel affinity helps us to form collective identity.
  •  David Gauntlett (2002) Media products provide numerous kinds of 'guidance' - in the myriad suggestions of ways of living which they imply. We lap up this material because the social construction of identity today is the knowing social construction of identity. Your life is your project. The media provides some of the tools which can be used in this work. Like many toolkits, it contains some good utensils and some useless ones; some that might give beauty to the project, and some that might spoil it. (People find different uses for different materials, too, so one person's 'bad' tool might be a gift to another.) Note how Gauntlett credits people with ability to choose or reject or reshape… 

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