Discussion of Theories on Social Identity

A individual merely has a personal individuality and a societal individuality. In this essay I would be concentrating on the portion, ‘social identity’ . There are many theories when it comes to societal individuality. Social individuality is an of import capable country in analyzing sociology, since it helps understanding human existences, giving intending to their actions. Identity is an image of who person is as a individual. When it comes to societal individuality, it refers to the public ego of person. This societal individuality is constructed around the features of person that are given to him/her by others in the society, taging them as a member of a peculiar group. This group can be a certain cultural group, gender group or another. Where, the personal individuality as opposed to this refers to one’s qualities that set him/her apart from others. Through this essay I would be speaking about societal individuality, taking some of the well known theories that are published by different bookmans sing the capable affair, taking Sara Shepard’s book series ‘Pretty Little liars’ as a base to analyze these theories. I would be taking some theories different to each other analyzing the some characters in this book series chosen by me.

First of all I would wish to speak about Goffman’s thought on individuality. The “On phase and off stage” theory is Goffman’s good known theory on individuality. Harmonizing to Goffman, individualities are non much a portion of us. Identities can be consciously manipulated, or presented in given state of affairss. Therefore he came into a decision stating that “we are instead like histrions playing the functions on stage” and like histrions people have clip off phase every bit good. This off phase clip is where people are playing their functions less self-consciously. Off phase, there is less calculated presentation of ego. Simply, on phase is how we are seen or else our societal individuality and off phase is how we truly are, which is our personal individuality. This on stage/off phase theory can be good explained through Sara Shepard’s “Pretty Little Liars” .

Looking at the chief character I chose for this analysis, Alison and her twin Courtney are good illustrations for this theory. Taking Courtney at the beginning of the book we can see the difference between her on phase functions and off phase functions. Off phase, she is a twin, a girl and she is Courtney. On phase she is a mentally unbalanced miss who wants to be Alison and make-believes to be her. She is a miss her parents do non desire to maintain place due to her unwellness. She is a miss who merely does non be in society. Therefore her on phase function is to be Alison. This is why when she stays back place devising her parents believe that she is Ali, she goes to school and do friends in the name of Alison, taking the function of Alison. When it comes to Alison, she tries to derive her societal individuality once more, but fails. Her personal individuality is besides stolen to a certain extent and hence even her parents do non believe that she is who she claims to be. The confusion of the functions of Alison and Courtney makes Alison, Courtney. Her full life after she is brought place from the mental establishment, she has to take the function of Courtney as her individuality. This supports Goffman’s thought, where he says that individualities can be manipulated and presented in given state of affairss. This use can take to a state of affairs where a individual might lose both his/her societal and personal individualities as Alison lost hers’ .

A 20th century sociologist, Talcott Parsons argued that sociables functions which form societal individualities have a intent. Parsons’ theory “sick role” maps as a signifier of societal control. Here Parsons argues that ill function consists of both privileges and duties. This enables the society to separate between those who have a legitimate ground to non carry through their duties and those who do non. The people non carry throughing the duties may lose their privileges. This is every bit if when we are ill we have to follow medical advice in order to acquire better. During this ill clip period we are non held responsible for our conditions. As privileges we get leave from work. Harmonizing to Parsons we are sometimes out of the usual roles we take in society and so we take the ill function, but during this period besides there is a socially expected manner of behaviour. The manner Alison behaves after taking Courtney’s function in “pretty small liars” is a good illustration for this. Though she takes retaliation from her twin sister and her friends, she shows the society that she is traveling through what they expect from her. This gives her privileges when it comes to the portion of retaliation excessively since no one believes that it is her who dos all of these things. She pretends the society that she has taken the steps needed and that she has gotten better and comes out as Courtney.

Another well known sociologist Charles Cooley used the term “looking glass self” to depict individuality. This is on the difference between the image we have of ourselves and the image society has formed of us. This is a small similar to Goffman’s thought, “On phase and off stage” . Here the looking glass is the society. We see ourselves through society taking the society as a mirror. Although we see ourselves as in a positive manner the image society has might be different. The image of Maya, one from the sole group of misss in “pretty small liars” further explains this thought. Maya is cheery and she hides it from the society doing an image of her by herself believing it would go debatable to her repute and her opportunity in being in the “group” . Even though she assumes and do an image of her ain the society shows her who she truly is in the eyes of the society and she comes public with her secret. Then she realizes how society sees her, as an jock. As I see she realizes that her accomplishment is more of import that her ‘secret’ . In this book series, in my sentiment, ‘A’ represent the society, which is the looking glass. ‘A’ messages the four misss who are called the ‘pretty small liars’ and allow them see how their image is reflected on the ‘mirror’ . Another case where this theory of Cooley is show is where these four misss think that they are Alison’s best friends. That is the image they have of themselves, but the society has a different image which is the far more acceptable one, where the four misss are Alison’s ( as it turns out to be, Courtney’s ) pets. They haven’t seen themselves through the mirror and goes through many jobs due to the image they made by themselves.

Similarly, speaking about use taking Goffman’s thought once more, this book series is a really good illustration to how someone’s individuality alterations with the background and people around them. Aria is manipulated to travel out with a instructor ; Ezra with the household jobs she is traveling through in the beginning. She is seeking for love and changes her individuality from a sweet guiltless miss to a miss with a large secret that can do jobs to many.

Now that I have discussed some theories on individuality, I will besides be discoursing some of the factors that are of import when it comes to organizing one’s individuality.

Gender function is besides of import in speaking about individuality. There are specific functions set by the society when it comes to different gender groups. Throughout the narrative we see that the individuality of Alison is different to what the society expects from a miss to be. The gender stereotype is really much violated in the narrative. A miss is supposed to be guiltless and soft, whereas Alison would even kill to acquire what she wants. Sara Shepard goes out of the box set by the society in making her characters. The gender stereotype is violated once more and once more doing Alison the foreman of everything, where the male characters in the book are all merely pawns under Alison’s weaponries. Again all the chief characters used by Sara Shepard are female characters, where the misss are ever far more of import than the male childs as opposed to the manner society sees. The book series besides brings out the individuality of homosexual people through characters like Maya. Here she is a bright and superb miss who is like the other misss. This gives the reader an thought as opposed to what the society assumes. Gender does non truly count in organizing individuality like the other factors as I read in Sara’s book series. It merely matters when it comes to relationships. All go through the same jobs like endangering messages and all have the same outlooks as to acquire into a good college. Therefore it is a inquiry whether gender truly is of import when it comes to individuality in the present.

Class besides is an of import factor that forms individuality. The manner the four misss face jobs are different from each other. The foregrounding character on category in this book series when it comes to societal category is ‘Spencer’ . Though the misss other than Maya come from instead good households, Spencer Hastings is a miss that comes from a high category household in society. Her personality is far stronger than the other misss and she is non afraid to stand up for what she thinks as of import. Her household background has formed her individuality to be a miss who is good protected and reserved. She does non believe that much about the society. When it comes to Maya, though she is strong due to athletic background, she is much more vulnerable than the others when it comes to what society thinks and expects. That is the ground why she is unable to speak about her feeling for Alison with anyone. If it was Spencer, she would hold talked about it with Alison or another miss in the group with less vacillation because of her personality. Here we see how societal category affairs in organizing one’s individuality. In my sentiment this is due to the socialisation procedure they go through. Family being the primary socialisation agent, they go into society with different values and personalities which subsequently plays an of import function in organizing their individualities.

Another of import factor when it comes to organizing individuality is the generational spread. This book series by Sara Shepard show the difference between the idea procedure and behaviour between two coevalss. The manner Spencer’s female parent and Hanna’s female parent think and the manner their individualities are formed are really much different to their girls.

These factors along with many other factors such as ethnicity, caste aid organizing one’s individuality and it can be seen non merely in existent life but besides in art such as fiction and play. Through this essay I was seeking to explicate how my chosen work of literature explains some of the theories and factors that are of import in this topic. It would be clearer if the thoughts are compared taking different work by different writers comparing different characters. My thought was to show a basic thought on individuality through my essay. The reasoning thought that I came into is that understanding individuality is non merely of import in understanding society, but besides in populating a better life.

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