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The Self  and  Social  Identification      

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            The  Self  and  Social  Identification     Jourdan  Block   Negotiation     May  12,  2011                            


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The need  to  belong,  relate  to  others,  and  feel  equal  is  prevalent  throughout   history.    People  have  long  had  the  desire  to  find  commonalities  with  one  another   and  create  groups  to  categorize  interests.      Cultures  are  formed  in  this  manner  and   have  a  history  that  hold  people  together  through  similar  norms,  values,  and  beliefs.     This  self-­‐definition  in  relation  to  others  is  the  premise  behind  the  identification   theory  as  well  as  the  social  identification  theory.  The  self-­‐identification  theory  holds   that  individuals  have  various  roles  in  society  that  are  important  for  meaning  and   self-­‐definition.    The  roles  that  a  person  maintains  are  generally  categorized  in  a   hierarchy.    For  example,  a  female  may  be  a  mother,  wife,  teacher,  and  friend  (Kraus,   2006).    This  personal  identity  creates  self-­‐enhancement  and  is  perpetually  evolving   and  changing  through  the  characteristics  that  a  person  possesses  and  the   knowledge  they  acquire.    Whereas  social  identity  theory  seeks  to  explain  behavior  in   terms  of  an  individuals’  social  group  association  and  commonalities  that  are  formed   within.  (Kramer,  Pommerenke,  Newton,  1993).    Social  identity  theory  focuses  on  the   concept  of  belonging  (or  not  belonging)  through  memberships  and  is  very   important  to  the  concept  of  self.    Both  self  and  social  identity  are  key  components  is   the  formation  of  one’s  identity.    Although  different  cultures  vary  in  their  opinions  of   “self,”  a  more  common  understanding  has  been  derived  due  to  the  recent  increase  in   globalization.    Identity  theory  and  social  identity  theory  can  best  be  understood   through  the  negotiation  process  involved  when  deciphering  conflict  that  arises  from   both  theories  while  keeping  face,  trying  to  belonging,  and  establishing  relationships.        

The role  of  identity  and  social  identity  are  very  closely  related  and  equally  

contribute to  personal  identity  through  the  negotiation  of  face.    This  negotiation  of  


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identity is  about  the  choices  a  person  makes  when  creating  their  self-­‐image  and   saving  face.    Face  is  a  concept  that  reveals  one’s  identity  and  through  way  it   presented  socially.    According  to  Cupach  and  Imahori  in  Pein-­‐Wen’s  article  positive   face  “refers  to  an  individual’s  desire  to  be  appreciated  and  approved  of  by  important   others,  whereas  negative  face  indicates  the  desire  to  be  autonomous  and  free  from   the  imposition  of  other”  (2008,  p.  54).      The  negotiation  of  this  concept  of  face   reduces  conflict  as  it  further  develops  identity  through  human  interaction  by  way  of   giving  or  loosing  face  when  understanding  group  values  and  norms  (Jackson  2002).   Both  theories  are  based  upon  the  relationship  of  the  individual  and  social   development  that  is  drawn  from  interaction  in  multiple  scenarios.    Through  this   interaction,  a  person  must  negotiate  their  identity  “from  personal,  group,  cultural,   national  and  global  perspectives”  and  determine  the  face  they  wish  to  identify  with   and  present  to  society  (Guo-­‐Ming,  2009,  p.  109).    

It is  through  the  expressiveness  and  communication  with  others  that  people  

feel as  though  they  belong  in  a  particular  group.    Reputation  and  image  are  derived   in  this  manner  through  social  acceptance  (Scott,  2007).    Though  it  is  through  the   relational  process  of  negotiation  that  identity  is  cultivated.    Relational  identity  is  the   shared  identity  through  similar  ways  of  knowing  and  being.    Members  often  feel  as   though  they  belong  to  a  group  because  they  coherently  and  appropriately  interact   with  one  another  through  mutual  understandings  (Pei-­‐Wen,  2008).    This  explains   the  why  humans  are  so  dependent  on  one  another  to  define  themselves  as  a   member  (or  not  a  member)  of  a  particular  group  and  how  identities  are  shaped   based  on  interaction  with  others.    This  concept  can  easily  be  understood  when  


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looking at  advertising  strategies.    The  need  for  belonging  to  a  particular  group  can   be  expressed  through  one’s  identity  and  the  way  they  dress.    Consumers  often   prefer  brands  that  are  strongly  associated  with  an  image  of  a  specific  group.    People   attempt  to  express  themselves  as  belonging  to  a  group  through  the  way  they  dress,   act,  and  believe  (Thorbjornsen,  Pedersen,  Nysveen,  2007).    The  need  to  belong  is  not   a  new  idea,  however,  belonging  must  be  negotiated  over  time  with  different   members  of  different  groups  to  be  qualified  and  accepted.        

It is  when  a  person  is  solidified  into  a  specific  group  that  unity  evolves  with  

positive outcomes  and  mutual  gains.    Common  identity  increases  negotiators   concern  for  the  other  party  and  the  need  for  mutual  equality  (Kramer,  Pommeranke,   Newton,  1993).    This  is  because  groups  in  conflict  often  seek  to  consult  people  they   can  relate  to.     In  daily  life,  persons  are  almost  always  members  of  groups  whose     values  and  beliefs  shape  their  behavior  and  cognition.    People     typically  dispute  and  bargain  as  members  of  families,  communities,     cliques,  and  organizations,  not  as  isolated  actors  whose  judgment  is   unfettered  by  social  relationships”      (Barely  1991  as  cited  in  Kramer,   Pommeranke,  Newton,  1991,  p.  645).           This  unity  and  common  ground  that  individuals  seek  is  drawn  from  the  idea  that   people  are  influenced  by  the  level  of  identification  they  feel  with  one  another.     Negotiation  with  members  of  a  similar  group  draws  on  the  individual’s  credibility   and  therefore  a  person  would  usually  attempt  to  cooperate  and  respond  in  a   manner  that  satisfies  the  group  as  a  whole  and  reflects  positively  on  group  


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standards (Kramer,  Pommeranke,  Newton,  1993).      It  is  important  however,  to  keep   in  mind  that  in  every  group  there  is  bound  to  be  conflict,  though  it  is  through  the   negotiation  of  this  conflict  and  how  it  is  dealt  with  that  reflects  on  the  social  and   individual  identity  of  a  person  (Jackson,  2002).        

After affiliation  with  a  group  is  affirmed,  relationships  eventually  form.    They  

can form  through  personal  life,  work  experience,  culture,  religion,  gender,  and  many   other  avenues.    Though  it  is  through  this  organization  of  membership  that  social   identities  are  created  and  relationships  thrive  (Scott,  2007).    This  happens  when   individuals  choose  their  affiliations  by  way  of  negotiating  their  position  in  relation   to  others  (Kraus,  2006).    Often  people  choose  to  relate  to  those  who  possess   characteristics  of  similar  background  and  culture.    This  is  the  process  known  as   negotiation  of  cultural  identity  “  in  which  one  considers  the  gain,  loss,  or  exchange   of  his  or  her  ability  to  interpret  their  own  reality  or  worldview”  (Jackson,  2002,   p.360).    With  the  influx  of  globalization  nearly  ten  percent  of  the  United  States  is   composed  of  immigrants  (Pei-­‐Wen,  2008).      With  this  in  mind,  it  is  understandable   that  common  groups  unite  to  feel  as  though  they  belong,  which  in  turn  brings  about   positive  emotion  and  knowledge  concerning  their  community  (Seirra,  Hyman,   Torres,  2009).         It  is  unfortunate  that  commonly  intercultural  relationships  fail  in  response  to   miscommunication  and  negotiation  about  the  terms  of  the  relationship.       This  is  often  due  to  the  fact  that  different  self  and  social  identities  do  not  reflect  the   values  and  beliefs  of  different  cultures,  and  therefore  they  are  unable  to  relate  to   one  another  (Pei-­‐Wen,  2008).        The  relational  identity  is  not  concrete  and  is  difficult  


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to access.    For  example  in  the  Chinese  culture  friends  are  perceived  to  be  helping   and  supportive,  whereas  Americans  are  expected  to  listen  and  share  beliefs.    With   these  disparities  in  cultural  norms  and  values,  it  is  often  very  difficult  to  relate.     Hence  stereotypes,  discrimination,  and  prejudices  are  manifested  amongst  different   cultures  (Guo-­‐Ming,  2009).    This  negativity  involving  identification  theory  can  easily   be  overcome  if  people  are  able  to  bridge  the  gap  between  various  cultures  and  see   the  common  identity  in  being  a  citizen  of  the  world.    

Identity is  complex,  unique,  evolving,  and  multifaceted.    Definition  of  self  is  

defined in  terms  of  differences  and  likeness  to  group  affiliations.  Identity  is   continually  being  rearranged  throughout  everyday  encounters  and  endeavors.    It  is   a  project  and  a  process  of  self-­‐analysis  and  self-­‐reflection  (Kraus,  2006).    The   commitment  to  one’s  role  reveals  an  individuals  salience,  and  stipulates  the  social   category  a  person  feels  strongly  connected  to  and  therefore  identifies  with.    The  self   and  social  identification  theories  are  important  to  an  individual’s  self-­‐esteem  and   personal  fulfillment  in  terms  of  belonging  and  maintaining  face  within  relationships.                                    


The Self  and  Social  Identification      

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109-­‐118. Retrieved  from  EBSCOhost.  

Jackson II,  R.  L.  (2002).  Cultural  Contracts  Theory:  Toward  an  Understanding  of    

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Kramer, R.  M.,  Pommerenke,  P.,  &  Newton,  E.  (1993).  The  Social  Context  of    

Negotiation. Journal  of  Conflict  Resolution,  37(4),  633-­‐654.  Retrieved  from  

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Kraus, W.  (2006).  The  narrative  negotiation  of  identity  and  belonging.  Narrative    

Inquiry, 16(1),  103-­‐111.  Retrieved  from  EBSCOhost.  

Pei-­‐Wen, L.  (2008).  Stages  and  Transitions  of  Relational  Identity  Formation  in    

Intercultural Friendship:  Implications  for  Identity  Management  Theory.  

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Scott, C.  R.  (2007).  Communication  and  Social  Identity  Theory:  Existing  and    

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Negotiation  

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