Found a very nice PDF file called “A Sociological Approach to Self and Identity“. I’m heartened that, despite my knowing next to nothing about this literature, many of the points here seem to echo things Anna and I said in our paper on “Ethical Portfolios: Supporting Identities and Values“, which I’ve also mentioned in previous blog posts.
As far as I can see, there is a common idea that people’s (several) identities are bound up with the roles they play and the groups they interact with. It’s a short step to introduce values (which the cited paper does, though not centrally) associated both with the groups and with the roles people play when interacting with those groups of people. Because we all interact in various different groups, playing various different roles, everyone has several different identities.
Going beyond the paper first mentioned, the challenge for personal ethical development is to develop a set of core values which permeate one’s behaviour across one’s whole life, without leading to rigidity and the inability to play the various roles one chooses to play effectively. It’s relatively easy to see examples of people who don’t seem to have developed a decent, good set of core values; but much more challenging to examine oneself critically in this regard.
Maybe one could see this as a kind of Holy Grail, or Philosopher’s Stone, of personal development. I hope that, if we (CRA, JISC CETIS) do manage to go ahead with a conference on identity later this year, we can include this developmental side of identity issues.