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Social Perspective of Identity Formation

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 Journ urna al of A dolescence nce 1996, 19, 417–428

Sociological ociological perspectives on iden identity formation: tion: th the e culture cultu re– –ide iden ntity li link nk and ide ident ntity ity ca capita pital  JAMES E.  E. COˆ TE´  This paper lay lays the the gro grou undwork for for understanding id ide entit tity y fo forrmatio tion n in an in inte terdis discipli ciplina nary ry fas fashion by addres ressing the prob problem lem of how cu culture lture and ide identit ntity y are interre interrelated. I attempt to re res solve this this problem by framing the “ culture– culture–identi ntity ty lilink” nk” with conce concepts rep repre res senting thre three e soc ocial-stru ial-structu ctura rall periods at three three levels of  ana nalys lysis is (the macro cro,, micro, and psyc ycholog hological). T he conce concept of “ ide identity ntity capital” pital” is derived from this fra fram mework, depicting how indivi individu duals can neg negotiate lilife fe passages in an incre increa asingly indivi individu dua alis li stic, co com mple plex x and chaotic world. world. T hes hese formula ulati tions ons place plac e existing research in in a broad perspe rspective and su sug ggest avenues for future work. work.  1996 96 T he A ssociation ociation for Profe Profes ssiona ionals ls in Service Services s for A doles dolescents ©  19

Introduction Recognition Recog niti on of the ne nee ed to un unde ders rsta tand nd the soc ocial ial conte contexts xts governing hu hum man developm velopment ha has s given ris rise to co cons nside idera rable ble rece recent res research, as evidence videnced by this special issue. While hil e prog progre res ss ha has s been made, there there is sti tillll ane a nee ed for an overarching rarchingfra fram mework tha thatt would ould guide uide thes the se efforts and produ produce a co cohe here rent nt bo bod dy of res research. IIn n particula rticular, r, the qu que esti tion on of the extent to which, hich, and thew the ways in which, hich, cu cultu lture re and identity areinte re interr rre elate lated d has no nott been answe nswere red d in a systemati tic c and empirica piricallly testabl table manner. nner. A s a sociolog ociologiical cally-oriented y-oriented soc ocial ial psycholog chologist, ist, I ha have ve addr dre essed this problem roblem by cons construc tructi ting ng a fra fram mework tha thatt lilinks nks macro-sociolog cro-sociologiical cal factors factorsthroug through micro-intera cro-interacti ctiona onall ones to psycholog ychologiical cal factors factors. I refe referr to this fra fram mework as the “ cu cult ltur ure e–identit identity y lilink” nk”.. Be Below low is a brief dis discu cus ssion of this framework work (see C o 6,for for theorig the original inal and morecompletedis lete discu cus ssion). ´, 1996, ˆte

Theculture The culture–ide ident ntity ity link  link   The assumptio tion ns underly lyin ing g th this is fr fra amework stem fro from the the so  social ial ps psych ychologica ical  tradition in sociolog ociology y cal called the “ social structure tructure and pers rsona onallity perspe rspecti ctive ve” ” (H ous ouse, 1977 1977)). I n my view,, this view thi s perspe rspective is suit ita able to the tas task at at ha hand nd beca caus use severa verall interre interrelated lated levels of  ana nalys lysis is are exp xplilicitl citly y reco recog gnized as ne nece cessary for a theory theoryof of hu hum man social ocial beha haviou viour. r. T he hes se levels are re:: (1) soc ocial ial structur tructure e, which ca can n includ include po poliliti tica cal and econom conomic syste tem ms; (2) interacti ction, on, comprisi prising patterns of behaviour haviour that chara characte cteri riz ze day-to-da y-to-day y contacts contacts among people ople in socializ ocializing ing institutions institutions lilike ke the fam familily y and sch schoo ools ls;; and ((3 3) persona onalility ty,, which encompasses terms like cha chara racte cter, r, self and psyc yche he,, including subcom ubcompone ponents nts lilike ke ego identity. Reprin Rep rintt requests and correspond ponde ence should be add addres ressed to Dr J ames C Co o Depa artment rtment of Sociology, ´, Dep ˆte U nive nivers rsity of ofWes Weste tern rn Onta Ontario, rio, Lond London on,, Onta Ontario, rio, CanadaN6A daN 6A 5C2 5C2.. 0140-1971/96/050417+12/$18.00/0


96 T heA he A ssocia ociation tion for forProfe Professiona ionals ls in Se Service rvices s for forA A doles dolescents © 1996T



J . E. Co ´ ˆte

 Table 1 presents th  Tab the e superordin ina ate concepts of the the fra framework, arranged at the their re res spective levels of ana nalys lysis is and tra trace ced d throug through three three type types of societies ocieties. Be Below, low, mores ore specifi cific c derivative-conc rivative-conce epts releva relevant to identity identity are specifi cifie ed, ilillus lustra trati ting ng how cult cultur ure es set the para ram mete ters rs of identit identity y formati tion. on. My state tatem ments describing ke key y relations relationships in this framework work should hould betake betaken as propo propos siti tions onsto to bea be arg rgue ued and tested ted.. I t can be seen in T able 1 that that three interre interrelated lev leve els of analys nalysis (ve (vertica rticalllly y) are pos postulate tulated d tto o be associated with with constructs repre representi nting ng three period riods s of social-stru ocial-structura ctural sta tab bililit ity y/change (horizonta (horizontalllly), y), pr prod oduc ucing ing a three three-by-thre -by-three e typolog typology. T he thre three e socialocialstruc tructura tural periodsa riods are meant to po portra rtray y wha hatt ha has s pre reva vailile ed during the past severa verall centuries nturies among Weste tern rn soc ocieties ieties, and soc ocieties ieties influe infl uenced by the West. T he disti distinction nction betwe between pre-mo -mode dern and and earl rly y mode odern corresponds pondswith with a widely accepted pted sociologi ociological cal disti distincti nction on betw twe een fo folk lk andu nd urb rba an societie ocieties s, a distinction istinction that that has has been refe referre rred to in oth othe er te term rms such as agrarian rarian   vs. indus industrial soc ocieties ieties, folk   vs. urba urban, or Gemeinscha nschaft ft   vs. Geselllls schaft. I n Western tern soc ocieties ieties, this tra trans nsformati tion on was largely com complete pleted d during uring the 19th Century ntury. T he early-mod rly-mode ern period is co cons nsidere idered d he here re to be an era of “ mod ode ernis rnism m” in which prod produ uction was a defining fini ng fea featur ture e of soc ocial ial relations relations. Over this ce centu ntury ry,, however, ver, cons consumption increased in im imp por orta tanc nce e as a defining fe fea atu ture reof of social ocial relation relations s and identity, taking takingu us into late-m late -mod ode ern soc ociety iety,, whe where produc roducti tion on ha has s decli cline ned d in relative relative importa importance nceto to cons consu umption as technolog technology y has has supplante upplanted labour bour and crea created more surp urplluses (cf., Gerge rgen, 1991 1991;; Gidde ddens, ns, 1991 1991)). A t the interactional ctional level, three three patterns tterns co corre rres spond onding ing to the abo bove ve social-stru ocial-structu ctura rall changes can can be identifi identifie ed with reg regard to soc ociali ializ zing institutions suc uch h as the fam familily y and schoo chooll. T hes hese patterns were were pos postulated tulated by Ma M arg rga are rett Mead (1970 1970)) to denote how social chang cha nge e affects ffects the rel relati tions onshi hip p between socializ ocializers and sociali ocializ zees, thereby infl nflue uencing cu cult ltur ura al co continuity. ntinuity. Mead refe refers rs to thes these patterns tternsa as “ figures res” or mode odels repr repre esenting three three kinds kind s of culture culture(cf., (cf., Muuss, 1988). T he hethre three cu culture ltures are“ re “ hich h childr childre en  p  po ostfigu figura rattive, in whic learn prima primaril rily y from their forebe forebears rs,,  cofigurative, in which both child chil dren ren and adults learn from their their peers, rs, and the  prefigurative, in which adults learn also lso from from the their ir chil child dren” ren” (M (Me ead, 1970, p. 1). (Note (N otetha thatt her prefixe refixes s tend tend to be cou counte nter-intuitive r-intuitive;; she heu uses “ post” to re refe ferr to the past, and “ pre” re” to refe referr to the fu futu ture re;; see Muuss, 1988, for for a discu iscus ssion of this formulation.) A ssoc ociate iated d wit ith h pre-m re-mod ode ern so societie cieties s are po pos stfi tfig gura urati tive ve cult cultur ure es in which the relations relations betwee tween parents rents and their offspring offspring are governe overned d by tradit traditiional onal norms that are beyond yond questioning by either ither parent rent or ch chilild d. T he postfigu tfigurative rative culture culture is stab tabililiz ize ed by the

Table1 le 1   A ffrramewo worrk for theculture theculture–ide –identity ntity lilink: nk: superordinate nateco conce ncepts Level of an analysis Social structure: ↑ ↓

Int Interaction: ↑ ↓

Personali litty:

Social-structural period Pre-modern→ Postfigurative→










Tra Tradit itio ion n-dire irected→   Inner-direc I nner-directed ted→


Sociologicall perspe Sociologica rspectives on identity formation


co core res sidence idenceof of three three gene nera rations tions and the ascription of adult roles roles as each gene nera rati tion on com comes of age.  Thec  The cofig figurativ tive e cultu lturre is one in whic ich h th the e in inte tergeneratio tion nal link linkage becomes tenuous and offspring pring look to non-trad non-tradit itiona ionall sou ource rces for com components of their their adult identit identities ies (e.g. amongthe ong their ir co conte ntem mporaries). T hu hus s, there there is a fu fund nda amental ntal chang change in there the relation lation between pare rent nt andch nd chilild d, whe here re thea the authority thority of thep the parent rent can be questioned and whe here re thech the chilild d ca can n actua ctualllly y give direction irection to the parent. rent. C onsequently, the eventua ntual adult identity identity of  offs offspringi ringis s no longer take taken n fo forr grante ranted d by either ither pare rent nt orch or chilild d. Lastly, in the prefig refigu urative rative cu culture lture there there is less co conc nce eption of wha what the futu future re holds holds for for offs offspring ring,, and theli the life fe-e -exp xpe erie rienc nce es of parents rentsa areof re of less use to offs offspring ring,, so the their ir guida idanc nce e is less highly highly reg regard rde ed. I n fa fact, ct, in i n this ty typ pe of culture culture, the young oung can te tea ach and guide their their pare rents ntsto to the point of their their parents rentsb beco com ming subservient rvient to them them in variou various s ways. H ence nce, theg the gap betwe tween parents rentsa and of offs fsp pringtha ring thatt ope opened ned in the theco cofig figu urative rative culturei cultureis s widene ned d in the pre prefigura figurati tive ve one. I n more co conte ntem mpo pora rary ry soc ociol iolog ogical language, this ca can n leave leave those co com ming of age with the task of beco com ming the prima primary archite architects cts of the their ir ow own n identiti identitie es (cf., Gi Gidd ddens, 1991). I n addition, dition,this this fra fram mework work suggests tstha thatt throug through thes the sociali ocializ zing influ infl uence nceof of institutions, cul cultures tures nurture nurture ce certain rtain pers rsona onalility ty chara characte cteri ris sti tics csa and therebye by encoura ncourag ge the deve velopm lopment of certain rtain cha characte racter-typ r-types. A nthrop nthropolog ologists ists lilike keM Mead and Ruth Bene Bened dict favo favore red d this thisvie view w (e.g. Bene Bened dict, 1938; Mead, 1960), but lilittle ttle wor ork k has has been done one sincethe ince the1 1950s. Howe oweve ver, r, the impli implica cati tion on is that that br broa oad “ characte racter-typ r-type es” should hould be found found tha thatt are manifestati tations ons of  cu cult ltur ura al pre pressur ure es interacting wit ith h hu hum man tem temperam raments. nts. A cco ccord rding ingly, ly, indivi individu dual differences nces in chara characte cterr shoul hould be dis distri tribu buted ted around round predom dominant nant or moda odal cul cultural tural chara cha racte cter-t r-typ ypes (cf., Co Co 1993). A releva relevant formulation that that hasbe has been very very influ infl uential in ˆte ´, 1993 sociolog ociology y comes from fromDavid David Ri Rie esman (1950 1950)). Ri Rie esman argues for three three characte racter-typ r-type es that that co coinci incide dentall ntally y fit with thes the social-stru ocial-structu ctura rall and ndinstitutiona institutionall patte tterns rnside identifi ntifie ed abo bove ve.. He argues that that a tradition-directed character-type chara cha racte cteri riz zes pre-mo -mode dern type type societies, wherei rein the “ important portant relati relations onships of lilife fe [are [are]] . . . co controlled ntrolled by ca care reful ful and rigid rigid etique tiquette tte,, learne rned d by the young oung du during ring the years of  intensive soc ociali ializ zation that that end with initi ini tia ati tion on into into full adult membership” rship” (p. 11). T his chara racte cter-typ r-type e is he hete terono ronom mou ous s and “ the rang range of choice choice . . . is minim ini mal, [s [so] the apparent rent social ocial ne nee ed fo forr an individu individuated ted ty typ pe of ofch cha aracte racter is minim inimal” (p. 12). I n what corres correspond to earl rly-m y-mode odern societie ocieties,  inner-directed  character-type cter-types s emerge as “ the principa rincipal mode ode of secu curing ring co confo nform rmity” (p. 14). T o cou countera nteract ct the disru isrup ptive infl nflue uences nces of earl rly y indus ndustri tria alizati tion on (associated with geographica raphicall mobi obility, urb urba aniz nizati tion, on, ca cap pit ita all-a acc ccum umula ulati tion, on, and mass produc roducti tion), on), individu individuals are sociali ocializ zed wit ith h a meta taph phorica oricall “ gyrosco cope pe” which “ is implanted lanted early in lilife fe by thee the elders lders and directe irected d towa toward gene nera raliliz zed but none nonetheles theless inescapably desti tine ned d goals” (p. 15). T he here refore fore, parents rents com come to see their their offspring as “ individu individuals wit ith h caree reers to make” ke” (p. 17), and inner-dire inner-directe cted d persons rsonse exercis xercise e choice cho ice and initi i nitia ative, but but the gene nera rall he hea ading and patte ttern rn of acce acceptable beha haviour viour is is set before fore they they embark on their their caree reers. T he here res sulti lting ngindivid individu ualility ty is not not a threat to social ocial a and nd econom conomic orde order becaus cause the pers rson on is self-gove f-governi rning ng,, beinge ng equi quippe pped with thi this s gyros yroscop cope e.  The thir third d character-ty -type aris ise es under condition itions tha that resemble late late-modern socie iety ty,, which was emerging whe hen n Ri Rie esman wrote in the mid-centu id-century ry.. A s the means of mass producti prod uction on become mastered, tered, and abu bunda ndance ncebe becomes moretake ore takenn-forfor-g grante ranted, d, the “ sca carci rcity ty psycholog ychology” y” of the inner-directe nner-directed d is supplante upplanted by an “ abunda bundance psycholog ychology” y” that gives ives rise rise to what hat he calllle ed the other-directed  cha  chara racte cter-typ r-type e. A cco ccord rding ingly, ly, in the latelate-



J . E. Co ´ ˆte

mode odern society, ociety, the over-prod r-produc ucti tion on that res results from te technological cal advance nces s is met with hei heightened consumeri ris sm. I n other other words words, with produ producti ction on pro problem blems mastered, a late-mode odern society nee needs consumption on a larg rge e scal cale, otherwis otherwise e capitalcapital-a accum ccumulation suffers. Complementaryto ntary to mass consumption are mass inse nsecuri curiti tie es reg regarding whether the “ rig right” things thing s are done and said. N ow, ow, “ other peop ople le are the prob roblem lem, not the mate terial rial environme nvironment” (Ri Rie esman, 1950 1950,, p. 18) 18), and consum consumption emerge rges as a way of identi ntifying fying one’s loyaltie lti es and relations relationships. Consequently, the other-directe r-directed d characte racterr is sens nsit itive ive to others othe rs—— to their opi opinions and their approva pproval. l. Ri Rie esman uses the the metaphor taphor of “ rada radar” to chara racte cterize rize this this orienta orientati tion, on, whe here reby by individ individuals are tau taught early in lilife fe to cons consta tantly ntly monitor the soc ocial ial environment to ensur ure e that that their their cons consumption patte tterns rns (especiall cially y in appeara rance ncea and ndbe beha haviour viour)) co confor nform m to wha hate teve verr are rethe the accepted stand tanda ards rds of the ti tim me and place lace. T he heoth othe er-dire r-directe cted person strives trives to meet goals, ls, but tho thos se goals shift, so it is stay taying in tune tunew with thes the shiftstha hifts that is of paramount imp impor orta tanc nce e to this thisch cha aracter-typ r-type. We can also lso see how the prefi fig gurati tive ve socializ ocializati tion on mechanism chanisms Mead pos postulate tulated d can can contribu contribute te to other-directe r-directedn dne ess. T ha hatt is, wit ith h parents rents pr provid oviding ing less guidance idancea and ha having ving less influe infl uence ove over their their ch chilild dren’s ren’s identity form formation, children wililll turn turn to oth othe ers for for dire irection ction.. T o the extent xtent that that thisis this is cu cultura lturalllly y co cond nditi ition one ed, it shou hould becom come part ofthe of theindivid individu ual’s cha characte racter (see Ewe Ewen, 197 1976, for a discu iscus ssion of the rise rise of the adve vertis rtising ing indus industry in the tw twe entieth ntieth ce centu ntury ry,, and it its s cu cult ltivation ivation of inse insecu curiti ritie es and anxieti nxietie es to create a sens nse e of ne nee ed to consume in orde order to alleviatethe leviate the manufactured diss dissonance onance)).

Identity ntityform formation patterns  The le lev vels of analy lys sis and social-s ial-str tru uctu turral period iods ide identifie tified d by the the cultu lturre–ide identit tity y fra fram mework ca can n he help lp us to organize nize a nu num mber of the identity identity conce concepts that ha have ve been genera nerated tedove overr the past severa verall decade cades. For exam xample, ple, the term“ term“ identi ntity” ty” has has been used in many ways to emph pha asize different face facets ts of hu hum man self-d lf- definiti fini tion on (cf., Gecas and Bu Burke rke,, 1995 1995)). H ow owe ever, ver, the social structure tructure and pers rsona onality perspe rspecti ctive ve suggests the foll follow owiing taxo taxono nom my: (1) tha thatt the term term so igna nate te theindivid the individu ual’s positi ition on(s (s)) in a soc ocial ial  social ial id ide entity   desig struc tructure ture; (2) that that the conce concept of   pe  denote note the more conc concre rete te aspects of  personal identity  ntity  de individu individ ual e exp xpe erie rienc nce e ro roote oted in intera interaction ctions s (and (and institution institutions s); and (3) that the notion notion of 

ego identity    refe referr to the mor ore e fu fund nda amental ntal subjective jective sense of continu continuity ity which is chara racte cteristic ristic of the persona rsonalility. ty. Thu T hus s, tthe hes se term terms s ne nee ed not be be in com competit tition ion with each ot othe her. Ra Rathe ther, they can be seen as attem ttempts to map ou outt diffe iffere rent face facets of the interdi nterdisciplina cipli nary ryterra terrain.  Thistax  Thista xonomy is presented in Tab Table 2 as a more specific ific reproductio tion n of the the conceptua tual cros cro ssta tab bulati ulation on of T able 1. I n other words ords, ve vertically, rtically, the repr repre esentati ntations ons of ide identit ntity y form formation patte tterns rnsd depicted icted in T able 2 arelog re logica icalllly y lilinke nked with the cultura cultural and cha characte racter patterns discus discussed above bove.. H orizo orizontall ntally, y, these identi identity ty conce concepts are meant to depict the cu cult ltur ura al proto prototyp type that that is imitate imitated d at each soc ocial-stru ial-structu ctura rall period. Socia Social-i l-id dentity fo form rmation is postu tulate lated to differ iffer in each typ type of society ociety, such tha thatt accor ccord ding to thep the particular rticular cu cultura ltural pro rototy totype it tend tends s to be ascribed  in pre-mode -modern societies, rly-mode odern societies ocieties, and managed  odern one ones s. T hes hese terms can can be achieved  in early-m naged  in late-mode defi fine ned d as foll follow ows s: “ ascribed” cribed” means assigned ned on the basis of some inheri nherited ted statu tatus s; “ achie chieve ved d” is used in the soc ociol iolog ogical se sense by byw which social ocial posit ition ion is is to be accom ccomplilis she hed d


Sociologicall perspe Sociologica rspectives on identity formation


on one’s own; own; and “ manag naged” means refl refle exi xive vely ly and strategical cally fitti fitting ng oneself into into a community of “ strangers rs” ” by meeti ting ng their approva pprovall throug through the crea creati tion on of the rig right impre imp res ssions (cf., Gecas and Bu Burke rke,, 1995). IIn n other words ords, in the pre pre-mod -mode ern society ociety,, social ocial identit ide ntity y is largely dete term rmined ined by one’s characte racteristics ristics or attrib ttributes (lilike ke race race,, se sex, pa parent’s rent’s soc ocial ial sta tatus tus); in the early-mod rly-mode ern, it is increa increasingly ingly based on persona rsonal accom ccomplish plishm ment and mate terial rial attainm ttainme ent (both of which are ostens tensibly based on appra praisals of merit); rit) ; while hil e in the late-m late-mod ode ern soc ociety iety,, it beco com mes a matter of im i mpre pression mana nag gement (tha (thatt is, in certain rtain social encounters ncounters, situati tuationa onall appra ppraiisals ca can n become more important portant than one’s one’s social background ckgroundor or accompli plis shme hments). A t the le leve vell of interaction (i (i.e .e.. the inte interp rpe ers rsona onal world where where cult cultu ure and and ind i ndivi ividu dual meet), t) , pers rsona onall identi ntity ty is larg rge ely heteron the en individuated , andth nd the en image-oriented as heteronom omous, th we move throug through the three three types of soc societies ieties. T he he hete teron ronom omous ous identit identity y is is based on a an n uncri unc riti tica call acceptance ptance of others others’’ appra ppraiisals and expectati ctations ons whi which pro produ duce ces s a confo conform rmiist and mechanica nicall blend blending ing into a co com mmun unit ity y; the individ individuate ted d identity identity is one which is based on the pr prod odu uction of a disti distinctive nctive persona rsonal style and role rep repertoire by which the person’s on’s biograp raphy leads to an or org ganic integ integration ration into a com community; and the image-oriente -oriented d identit identity y is based on a pr proje ojection ction of images that that meet the appr approva oval of a co com mmun unit ity y, gaining ini ng onea one acc cce ess so long as the images rem remain acceptable. Pe Pers rsona onal ide identit ntity y re refe fers rs he here re to interpe interpersona rsonal styles tyles that that ha have ve been sha hape ped by the actua ctual lilife fe expe xperience riences of  individu individ uals. ls. I n a sense, it expre xpres sses the cu culm lmina ination tion of an individ individu ual’s biogra iograp phy at a give iven n point oint in time time. Finally, at the level of characte racter, r, two components of ego ide identit ntity y ca can n be classifie ifi ed: “ structure” tructure” and “ process.” Ego ident dentiity str tructure ucture generall enerally y refers to to “ how experience experience is ha hand ndled led as well as . . . wha hatt exp xpe erience riences are co cons nside idere red d importa important” by an indivi individu dual (Marcia, 1993 1993a, p. 3), while ego identity pro roce cess re refe fers rs to the m ma anner by which the e  eggo form fo rms its id ide ent ntity ity as a distinc istinctt ent ntity ity in rela latio tion n to itso its obje ject ct world. rld. In te term rms of the the typ types of  identity structu tructure re stu tud died by identity identity statu tatus s res researche rchers rs, identity   foreclosure   (qua commitm tme ents determined by others others)) predom dominates nates in pre-mode -modern societies, identi ntity ty   (   s se e lflf-cho chos s e n co com m m itme nts) nts ) is the p roto rototyp typica ical l s truc tructure ture in m ode od e rn achievem achi evement  qua soc ocieties ieties, and identit identity y diffusion (qua a lack of stabl table, long-t long-te ermcom rm commitm tme ents) nts) app appe earsto rs to be emerg rgiing as the predom dominant nant one in i n late-mod te-mode ern societies, if we foll follow ow the framework work outl outliined ned above bove.. I n terms of the proce proces sses by whi which identi ntity ty is formed, the pre-mode -modern society requires requires iits ts members to  adopt   the  their ir identities identities ea early in lilife fe;; in the early-mode odern society ocietype peop oplle are expecte cted d to construct  their identities ntities as they com come ofa of age; and in thelateTable2 ble2   C ultural ultural prototyp rototype es of identity forma formation patterns co constituting nstituting th the e cul culture ture–id –ide entity link  Level of an analysis Social identity: (Socia (Soci al structure) Personal ide identit ity y: (Interaction) Ego ide identity: ntity: (Personality) a. Structure b. Process

Social-structural period Pre-modern→





A scribed→


A chie chieve ved d→


Managed Manag

Het Heteronomous→

Foreclosed→ A dopted→



I ndividu Indivi dua ated→


A chieve chieved d→ Constructed→



ImageImag oriented Diffused Discovered



J . E. Co ´ ˆte

mod ode ern soc ociety iety individu individuals are encour ncoura aged to (continualllly y)  discover   their identiti identitie es through consumption and pleasingothe ng others rs((cf., Gerg rge en, 1991 1991)).

Appli App licat cations ionsto toe exis xisting tingres research  Thisframework promise  Thisfra ises to giv iveide eidentit tity y researchersa common reference point int fro fromwh mwhic ich h to anchor nchor co conce ncepts and hy hyp potheses in a cros cross-cultura -cultural and trans trans-his -historica toricall manner. nner. I n so do doing ing it suggests seve vera rall things things abou outt the cu cultura lturall conte context xt of the identity identity sta tatus tus parad radigm (cf., Marcia, rcia, 1993b). For exa xam mple, accord ccording ing to the fra fram mework, N orth A merican rican and Europ Europe ean res researchersa rs are stud tudying ying identity identity in a soc ociety iety that that is increa increasingly ingly late-m late-mod ode ern, prefigu refigura rati tive ve,, and otheroriente orie nted. d. A s noted above, this suggests that that identit identity y diffus diffusion is being incre increa asing ingly ly cond conditi ition one ed and nurtu nurture red d as a stanc tance e towa toward identity form formation (cf., Marc Marcia, ia, 1989). T his propo pro pos siti tion on ca can n be tested using larg rge e-sc -sca ale, rando random m samples ples of succe ucces ssive coho cohorts rts passing through adol dolescence cence,, or onthe on the basis of meta-ana ta-anallyses of existing studi tudies. I f identity identity diffus diffusion is increa increasing, ing, the “ achieve chieved d” ego ide identity ntity structure tructure may be unde ndergoing oinga a declinew cline with each ne new w co coho hort rt (this (this can also lso be empirica iricalllly y te tes ste ted d). I n fact, fact, the identifi ide ntifica cati tion on of “ MA MA cy cycle cles s” may be sy symptom ptomati tic c of the diffi ifficu cult lties ies of susta taini ining ng co com mmitm itments in late-m late-mod ode ern soc ociety iety.. (I n thes these cycles cycles, indivi individ duals re-ev re-eva aluate luate their their co com mmitm itmentsd nts dur uring ingthe their ir adult lthoo hood d, as evidence videnced by bythe their ir oscillation cillation between moratorium [que [questi tioning] oning] and achievement [com [commitm tme ent]; Marcia, 1993 1993a). The decline line in the the sustaine tained-com d-commitm tme ent chara characte cteri ris sti tic c of the achievement status tatus may be of some conce concern given the designa ignati tion on of that that iide dentity ntity status tatus as a pre preferre ferred d outcom outcome of ide i dentity formati tion on and its i ts as ass sociation with psyc ycholog hologiical cal hea health (see selecti ctions ons in A rche rcher, r, 1994 1994,, especiall cially y  Josselso lson, 1994). Mor Moreover, th the e dis disrruptio tion ns th tha at oscillatio illation ns in commitments can cause fa fam mililiesan iesand d co com mmunitie nities shou hould be a co conc nce ern in term terms ofa of a los loss s ofcivil of civil society ocietya anda nd a lack lack of  guidings iding structu tructure refor for those attem ttemptingto pting to co com me of age.  The postu tula late ted in inc crease of diff iffu usio ion n and de decrease in achie iev vement as style tyles s of ide identit tity y formati tion on is acc ccou ounte nted d for wit ithin hin the fra fram mework in the foll follow owing ing way: late-m late-mod ode ern soci ociali aliz zation ation pressures encourag encourage other-dir other-directed ectednes ness, enha enhanced nced impression manag anagement, and nda a desire to dis disco cove verr one’side ’s identit ntity y throug through “ image cons consu umpti tion” on”(cf., (cf., Co nd A lllla ahar, har, ´andA ˆte 1994 1994)). I mage consumption has has been introduced ced to succe ucces ssive coho cohorts rts throughou houtt this this ce centu ntury ry (especially since mid-centu id-century ry)) by va variou rious s profit-oriented indu indus stries via youth outh cu cult ltur ure es and peer cult cultur ure es. The T he he heigh ighte tene ned d ne nee ed to confor conform m during uring the ado doles lesce cent nt period ha has s made it relative relatively ly easy for a patte ttern rn of image cons consum umption to be introd introduc uce ed that that involves an im imm mediate-g -gra ratifi tifica cation or orien ienta tation tion to enhancing ncing one one’s phys hysica icall- and exp xpe erientia rientiall-s self as deemed appr prop opriate riate by others. rs. A ccord ccording ingly, ly, it is now com commonplaceto lace to ador orn n theb the body ody with variou various s fa fas shions, jewelllle ery ry,, andco nd cos smetics in ord order to projec rojectt particular rticular images that that plea please others while hil e grati ratify fying ing na narcis rciss sistic desires; and it is cus customary to spend gre rea at amou ounts ntsof of ti tim me in exp xpe erience riences that that similarly proje project ct images while hil e gaining ini ngva valilida dati tion on fromothe from others rs,, through the consumption of music, mass media, computers putersa and assorted orted games, and dru rug gs. T he hes se all involve im ima age co cons nsumption in in the sense that that ilillus lusions are used as a basis for ke key y interactionsw ctions wit ith h others. rs. T he heco cons nsequence nceof of this as a mass phe henom nomenonis non is the nu nurtu rtura rance nceof of a mass of co cons nsumers who ha have velilittl ttle e conce concern reg regarding rding wha hatt the future futurehold holds s and who who are rece receptive to shifting hifti ng tre trend nds s and values. T hose who reject reject their their cu cult ltur ure e of  prima rimarys ry socializ ocializa ation may be particular rticularly ly pro rone neto to this, this, given iven tha thatt they they areno re nott guided by, or


Sociologicall perspe Sociologica rspectives on identity formation


act in op opp positi ition on to, the the“ “ gyrosco cope pe” discu discus ssed by byRi Rie esman, there thereb by losing losing a basis for inner inner-directe dire cted dne nes ss. I n psychoa choana nalytic lytic term terms this signa ignals an incre increa asing id orie orienta ntati tion on and a decreasing supereg rego orienta orientati tion on of ofthe the persona rsonalility ty(cf., (cf., Co ˆte ´, 1993).

Implic plica ations tionsof of the the fra fram mework  Thepr The proble oblem matic nat nature ure of late late-mode -modern rn society  ociety  One obviou vious imp impli lica cation of the framework fo forr thecu the cultur lture e–identityli ntity link nk is that socia ciall li life fein in late-m late -mod ode ern soc ociety iety is beco com ming increa increasingly ingly pr prob oblem lemati tic c for the individu individual in te term rms of  establish tablishing ing a stable table and viable viable identity identity based on com commit itm ments embedded in a com community of others others.. Pe Perhaps rhaps thi this s inte interpretation reflects my own own pessimism, but I believe it deserves rves ca care reful ful exa xam mination. I n this section, I wil willl elabora laborate upon thepr the prob oblem lemati tic c na nature tureof of pre present and future future soc ociety iety,, and and balance lance it wit ith h a formulation that that suggests how ce certa rtain in individu individuals seem to be beco cop pingw ing wit ith h thes these deleterious leteriouss soc ocial ial structura tructural and cultura culturall infl influ uences. Pre-m Pre -mod ode ern and and mod mode ern ins i nstit titutions utions tend tend to be supportive of iind ndivi ivid dual ide identit ntities ies and intergene nera rati tiona onal co continuity, ntinuity, whe whereb reby ne new w members are more-or-l -or-le ess wililliling ngre recru cruit its s of the cu cultur lture e. T o thee the extent that these institu institution tions s arefa re fail iling ing,, or havefa ve fail ile ed, it foll follo ows that both oth individ indivi dual identity identity formati tion on and cu cult ltur ura al repr reprod odu uction are in jeo jeopa pardy rdy. Moreover, to the extent xtent that these insti nstitutions tutions are bei being replac replace ed with exploiti xploitive consumption-orie ption-oriented patterns tterns, it also follow follows s that that Western tern cu cult ltur ura al developm velopment is proc roce eeding more like l ike a rud rudderless ship than than as a ve ves ssel that that wililll tra trans nsp port it its s occu occupa pants safely fely to the their ir desired destina tinations tions (cf., Gi Gid ddens, 1991). T hus hus, while it is easy to rom romanticize nticize the pas past in this conte context, xt, there thereis is rea reason to be co conc nce erned that that they theyoung ounga areno re nott rece receivinga ivinga benign nign guida idanc nce e in the their ir identity fo form rmation, and that that there there is lilittle ttle “ fore foresight” ight” in ong ongoing cultura cultural cha change. (I t is also tru true e that that some ob obs servers welcom welcome a bre break in cult cultur ura al continuity continuity based on co conclus nclusionstha ions thatt Western tern cu cult ltu ure ha has s been patriarc triarcha hal, l, racis racist, t, classist, etc., but such a brea reak is tied to the increasinga ing anom nomie of social ocial stru tructu cture re and is not not without ithout significa ignificant nt casualilities ties whe hen n it co com mes to matte tters rsof ofindivi individ dual identit identity y.)  The sc scenario outline tlined above su suggests two two general courses ind individ ividu uals may take wh when co confr nfro onted with late late-m -mod odern life l ife.. One O ne is to sim simp ply go along long for for the ride ride, and drift in the cu curre rrents ntsa and nde edd ddies iesof of changes orche orches stra trate ted d by bythe the captains of the cons consum umer indus industriesw tries who profit profit fromm from manipulating nipulating identiti identitie es, especially amongthe ong the young oung (Co (C o te a nd A ll lla a har, ha r, 1994). ˆ´  Theabove dis  Theab isc cussio ion n of th the e cultu lturre–id ide entit tity y link link constit titu utes a descriptive acco ccount of this this.. I n a mor ore e p vein, in, we can discus iscuss another co cour urs se; na nam mely, for ind indivi ivid duals to take take an  pre resscript riptive ive ve active ro role le in their their own own develop velopm ment by beco com ming pililots ots of the their ir own destinies, to the extent xtent that that thisis this is rea realilis sticall tically y possible. ible. (Some sociolog ociologists istsre refe ferr to thisa this as being an archite rchitect ct of one’s one’s biography raphy; e.g .g.. Gidde ddens, ns, 1991 1991.) .) I n othe otherr words words, without iins nsti titutional tutional suppo upport rt and guidance idance in i n making deve velopm lopmental ntal tra trans nsit itions ions,, individ individuals are left largely to their their ow own n interna inte rnal re res source ources mor ore e so than than in the past. T he passive res respons onse to this is to drift from from image to image, as discu discus ssed above bove,, rather rather than to unde undertakem rtake more diffi difficu cullt deve vellopm opmental tas ta sks, ks, lilike ke actively ctively exp xplori loring ng, challlle enging, ing, and deve veloping loping one’s belilie efs and po pote tentials ntials.. I n co contra ntras st, the active, ctive, agentic res respo pons nse e is to deve velop lop strate trateg gies for dealiling ng with the thes se influenc influe nce es in term terms of sustaining taining some sense of direction irection andm nd meaning, ning, and taking takinginiti initia ative in one’s one’s ownpe own pers rsona onall development. I belilie eve that that a certa certain in se segment of the po popu pulation already dye engages in the active res response and that that we can learn much by stu tud dying their their strate trateg giesa ies and com comparingthe ring them m to thos those who



J . E. Co ´ ˆte

engage in the passive res respo pons nse e. We should hould kee keep in mind, thou thoug gh, tha thatt wit ith h most inves inve stme tments, a dividend ividend is not not guarante rantee ed, so there thereis is a certain rtain risk risk to this thiss strate trateg gy, as there there is in anyca ny capital ventu venture re..

Identitycap Identity capital ital I t is re rea asona onable to assume tha thatt a certain rtain pro rop por ortion tion of individu individuals in most societie ocieties s actively ctively strate trateg gize to maximize ximize their life fe-cours -course ou outcom tcomes. Sociologi Sociologists and econom conomists have have studi tudied va various rious strate trateg gies peop ople le use in actively ctively inves investi ting ng in them themselves and the their ir progeny ny.. One strategy is repres represented by the concept concept of “ human capi capital” (Becker, 19 1964 64,, 19 1975 75)). Human capital theor theory y has has had had a stro trong ng im imp pact on educational tional policie olicies s arou round the wo world, rld, and iis s based on the assumption that that the inculcati inculcation on of skillkil l-orie oriente nted d knowled ledg ge gene nera rate tes s eco conom nomic activity. ctivity. A relate related d notion, “ cu cultura lturall ca cap pit ita al”, grew rew out out of morere orerece cent sociol ociolog ogical theori theo rie es of socialsocial-clas class repro reprodu ducti ction on (Bourdie Bourdieu u and Pass Passeron, 1977), and is i s based on the assumption ption that knowledg knowledge of hi hig gh culture culture (a ( aesthetics thetics,, speech patt tte erns, eti etiqu quette, ette, etc.) gains one acce access to the rewa reward structure tructures s of the uppe upper classes. Despite their differing assumpti tions onsa and origins, origins, bo both th of thes these co conce nceptsw pts were develope veloped to accou ccount nt for how social ocial background ckground,, educati tiona onall experi xperience ences, and other “ investments,” eventually ntually pay off for individuals.  Tab  Ta ble 3 rep represents th the ese concepts and places th the em as precursors of the the concept tha that I believe appl pplies more aptl aptly y to the condi conditi tions ons of late-mod te-mode ern society, ociety, nam namely, “ identi ntity ty capital”. A ll three three co conce nceptsre pts repr pre esent wha hatt are lilike kely ly the most advanta vantag geous ous res resource ources to secure cure soc ocial-cl ial-cla ass mob obililit ity y, or to repr reprod odu uce one’s class po pos sit ition, ion, in each typ type e of soc society iety discus iscussed above. I n my view, view, theco the conce nceptsof ptsof hu hum man capital pital and cult cultu ural ral capital pital areus re useful butne ut neit ithe herr comprehens hensiivel vely describes cribes what seems to be nece neces ssary for indivi ndividu dua als to succe ucces ssfull fully y neg negotiate the vag vagaries of life passages in late-mode odern society. ociety. Late-mod te-mode ern society appe ppears to be pro produ ducing cing an altered life fe-cours -course for severa verall re rea asons. For example, ple, social iins nsti tituti tutions ons lilike ke educ uca ati tion, on, the workplac orkplace e and the fam familily y are often poorly oorly reg regula ulate ted, d, inad inade equate tely ly lilinke nked d, or are actua ctualllly y fail failing ing,, so tra trad dit ition-ba ion-bas sed co conting ntinge encypa ncypatterns tternsca canno nnott be bere relilie ed upon uncri unc riti tica callly. Furtherm Furthermore ore,, strong status tatus or “ tri triba bal” diffe differenti rentia ati tions ons have have emerge rged that are based on cl cla ass, race, gender, and age. Each of these status tatus differenti ntia als introduc ntroduce es an arena rena whe here re “ identity identity politics olitics” ” are now being play played ou outt at at both both the macrocro- and micro-poli icro-politi tica cal level vels. Conseque quentl ntly, y, individu ndividua als seem to requ requiirem re more persona rsonal re res source ources s and a hei heightened aware rene nes ss to make their their way through this un uncha charte rted d and often often hosti tile le te territory rritory.. I see the thes se attri ttribu butes tes as consti tituting tuting more genera nerall forms of “ capital” capital” than eit ithe herr human capital capital or cu cult ltur ura al capital, pital, and as key key co com mponents of co conte ntem mpo pora rary ry self-d lf- defini finiti tion. on. He H ence, the te term rm “ identi identity ty capital” capital” seems approp ppropri ria ate to describe the wherewithal rewithal individu ndividua als use when engaging in tra trans nsactions as they they attempt to ne neg gotiate the tricky passages cre crea ate ted d by the obstaclesof tacles of late-mode te-modern society. Table3 le 3   M ost advanta vantage geo ous so social-cla cial-class ss mobility/rep lity/reproduction resour source ces Social-structura Social-struc turall peri riod od  Typ  Typeof resourc rcea eac cquire ired:





L ate mode La odern

Hum Human capital→


Cultu Cultural capital→


Id Ide entit tity y capital


Sociologicall perspe Sociologica rspectives on identity formation


I n addition, the co conce ncepts of human capita capitall and cu cult ltur ura al capital pital do not s se eem suffici ufficie ently sensi nsiti tive ve to the unique unique op oppo portuniti rtunitie es available in late-mode odern, prefig figurati tive ve and othe otherrdirecte dire cted d soc ocieties ieties. I n thes these soc ocieties ieties, the incu i nculcation lcation of hu hum man capita pitall in the form of  instru ins trum mental ntal skil kills ls can gain membership in the tech techno nocr cra acy, cy, but it may do ve very ry lilittle ttle for for short- or long-term long-term pers rsona onal deve velopm lopment or fu fulfi lfillllm ment, not to mention the fact fact that that instrumental ntal skil kills ls reg regularly ularly beco com me ob obs solete olete.. Cultura ultural ca cap pit ita al ca can n be useful ful in gaining ini ng or sustaini taining ngm members rship hip in high status tatus cul culture, ture, and may bea be a source ourceof of persona rsonall deve velopm lopment and ndfulfil fulfillme lment, but cu cult ltu ural/ae ral/aes sthe theti tic c skil kills ls areofte re often n not well rewarde rded in the te techno chnocra cracy, cy, and “ ol old d cl cla ass” advantage dwi dwindles as it is transferre transferred d throug through h successive generati tions ons.. C onsequently, ntly, in late late-m -mod odern society ciety bot oth h areliab re liable le to be of li lim mite ited d value lueon on their own in the long-term long-termin in a highly highly changeable and persona rsonalllly y-poli -politici ticiz zed society ociety whe here re skills, kil ls, tas taste tes s and ndru rulesare lesareco cons nsta tantly ntly shifting hifti ng. I am propos proposing tha thatt both both human capital capital and cul cultural tural capital capital are useful res resource ources s to to develop and nde exc xcha hange, but withou ithout ot othe her attribu ttributes tes their net worth is apt to declinein cline in the long-ru -run. n. A s such ch,, on their their own they they may not not be the most astute tute inves investme tments in te term rms of  seeing one through one’s one’s total life-cours fe-course. I ndeed, a more “ diversifi ified portfol portfoliio” that includ incl udes psychos chosoc ocial ial skil kills ls may be ne nece ces ssary if an “ intellige intelligent strate trateg gist” is i s to be at the helm of behaviou viour (cf., (cf., Gi Gid ddens, 1994, p. 7). T he ke key y iis s for for the individ individu ual to form form and sustain tain an identit identity y prag ragmatically sit itua uated ted in a soc ocial/occ ial/occu upati tiona onal matrix. A ccord ccording ingly, ly, the individ indivi dual inves invests tsin in a certa rtain in identit identity y (or identiti identitie es) and engages in a seriesof riesofe exchanges at the leve level of identity with othe other actors ctors. T o do this in i n a com complex, lex, shifting s soc ocial ial mililieu ieu re req quire uires s certa rtain in co cog gnitive niti ve skil kills ls and persona rsonalility ty attri ttrib butes that that arenot are not im imparted rted by hu hum man or cu cult ltur ura al ca cap pit ita al, and nda arece re certa rtainl inly y not impa imparte rted d by mass/pub /publilic c educa cati tiona onal syste tem ms. Wit ith h thisp this por ortfolio, tfolio, an individu individual shou hould be in a much better tter positi ition on to move ove at wililll throu through the dim ime ensionsof place lace ands nd space cein in thelate thelate-m -mod ode ern world orld (cf., Gi Gid ddens, 1991), andm nd may do so by bye engaging in ta tactics ctics lilike kes selflf-m monitoring (Snyde (Snyder, 1974) and using situate ituated d identit identities ies(i (i.e .e.. adjusting one one’s behaviou haviours rs to suit thos those of othe others in particular rticular situa ituations tions; cf., cf., Gec Geca as and Bu Burke rke,, 19 199 95). T his sta tand nds s in co contra ntras st to the the res restrictions tricti ons of plac place e and space impos imposed on individ indivi duals of earli rlie er soc ocieties ieties whe where re identiti identitie es are more res restricted in rep repertoire and flexibility. With Wi th this backgro rou und, nd, we can now now defineide fine identity ntity capital mor more e specificall cifically y. How owe eve ver, r, it must be stres tressed that that this is gene nera ralllly y an abstra tract, ct, over-arching r-archingco conce ncept intende intended to guide uide empirica piricall res research, rather rather than to be directly ope operati rationa onalized as one discre discrete te construct.  Thus, its valu  Thus lue e can be assessed in terms of how well it generates research questio tion ns re reg garding its i ts vari variou ous s empiri pirica call mani nife fes stations (discu discus ssed below ow)) and how m muc uch h it helps helps interpre interp rett re res sults (i (includ ncluding meta-an ta-ana alyse lyses), rathe ratherr than than being the objec objectt of sing ingu ular, direc irectt measurement. I ts status tatus is therefore therefore much much the same as Eriks Erikson’s on’s genera nerall conc conce ept of ego identi ntity, ty, which seems to emphasize a psyc psycholog hological ical dime dimensi nsion of cop copiing, ng, wh whiile iide denti ntity ty ca capit pital al emphasizes moreof ore of a social-ps ocial-psycholog ychologiica call one. one. Most genera nerallly,the y,theterm term“ “ identi identity ty capital” capital” denotes notes what individu ndividua als “ inve nves st” in “ who they are re”. ”. T he hes se inves investm tme entspo nts pote tentiall ntially y rea reap fu future turedivide dividend nds s in the “ identit identity y markets rkets” ” of lla ate te-mod ode ern co com mmunitie niti es. T o be a playe layer in thes these markets rkets,, onem onemust first establish tablisha a stab table sens nse e of se self which is i s bolste olstere red d by the fo follllow owing ing:: social ocial and te tech chnica nicall skills kills in a varie riety ty of a are rea as; effecti effe ctive ve behavioural havioural repe repertoires rtoires; psychosocial development to more advance dvanced d levels; and assoc ociations iationsin in key key soc ocial ial and and oc occu cupa pati tiona onal ne netwo tworks rks. A t the very very least, given the thea apparent rent chaos of late-m late-mod ode ern soc ociety iety,, key key res resou ource rces for barga rgaining ini ng and exchanging wit ith h others in the late-mod te-mode ern communitie uniti es are apt apt to involve skil kills in i n neg negotia otiati ting ng llif ife e-pas -passages with



J . E. Co ´ ˆte

others,, such others uch as securi curing ng val validati idation on in communitie uniti es of strangers, rs, and and attaini ttaining ng membershi rship p in thecircle the circles s and gro rou ups to which one one aspire ires s. T he hem most succe ccessful ful inve inves stor tors s in theide the identity ntity markets rkets presumably have have portfol portfoliios comprisi prising two type types of assets, ts, one more sociologi ociological cal and the theothe otherr moreps ore psyc ycholog hologiica call. On theon the one e hand hand,, thes these assets tsca can be tangible in thes the sense that that they they are“ re “ sociall ocially y visible” visible”..  Thes  The se more socio iolo log gic ica al featu turres comprise ise such thin thing gs as educatio tion nal credentials, ls, fraternity/s fraternit y/sororit orority y and cl club ub/as /association ociation membershi rships ps, and persona rsonall deportment (e.g. .g. manner of dress, physical attractivene attractiveness and speech patterns). A s such, uch, ta tang ngiible res resource ources s shou houlld be effecti ffective vea as “ passports ports” ” into other other social and insti nstitutional tutional spheres res, inas nasmuch uch as they theya arevi re vital tal in term terms of ge getti tting ng by the “ gateke tekee epers” rs” of va various rious group roups wit ith h wh whom om one wants to be a member, as well as being accepted pted by estab establilis shed hed members. rs. T hes hese groups roups va vary ry in their concre conc retene teness (from specific cifi c members rships hips to abstract tract refere reference grou roups ps), making king these tang tangible re res sourc ource es im imp por orta tant nt in the micro-po icro-polilitics tics involve involved d in identity identity ne neg gotiations otiations. Being Being thusinvolve thus involved d in day-to-day -to-day interactions over ape a period of ti tim me, these res resource ources shou hould ld also increa ncrease one’s iide denti ntity ty capi capital throug through the accruing accruing of neg negotia otiable self-concepts f-concepts a and nd selfpresentations (see Lerner rner  et .’s, 1990 1990,, goodnes ness-of-fi -of-fitt mode odel for a similila ar conc conce eption of   et al.’s, howpe how pers rsona onallit ity y strengthsca ths can n benurtu be nurture red). d). I n addition, identit identity y ca cap pit ita al res resou ource rces area re also . T hes hese moreps ore psycholog ychologiical cal factors factors intangible proba pro bably include the the explorati xploration on of commitm tme e nts, nts, ego strength, self-effica f-efficacy cy,, cogniti nitive ve flexibility flexibili ty and co com mplexity, selflf-m monitoring, onitoring, critica criticall thinking thinking ab abililiti itie es, moral rea reasoning abililit ities ies, and other characte racterr attri ttrib butes that that ca can n give individ individuals ce certa rtain in vitaliti vitalitie es and ca cap paciti citie es with which to   understand   and   negotiate   the vari variou ous s social, occ occup upa ati tiona onall and pers rsona onall obstacl tacles and op oppo portuniti rtunitie es they are likel kely to encou encounter nter throug throughou houtt la late-m te-mod ode ern lilife fe.. H ence, in addit ition ion to the more tang tangible soc ocial ial com components, nts, the there re seems to be an internal subjective/e jective/exp xpe eriential riential co com mponent to identity identity ca capita pitall which can be releva relevant in te term rms of the exte xterna rnall demand nds s of micro-poli icro-politics tics and impre impres ssion mana nag gement. I n Eriksonia Eriksonian n te term rms, thes these va various rious attribute ttributes s are ti tie ed to wellll-de -deve velope loped ego synthe yntheti tic c and ego execu xecuti tive ve abil ilities( ities(cf cf., ., Coˆte ´, 1993). I n this co conte ntext, xt, thee the exp xplora lorati tion on and ndco com mmit itm ment aspectsof cts of identity identity formati tion ons studied tudied by identity ide ntity statu tatus s res researc rche hers rs beco com me relev releva ant. T his is so to the extent xtent that that the refle reflexivity xivity involved in developing loping a lilife fe-pla -plan n and setting goals is an im imp porta ortant nt prep reparation ration for, for, and anti ntido dote te to, the exigencies of late-mode odern society discu discus ssed above bove.. T he awarene renes ss and strengths associated with exploring alternati tive ves s and setti tting ng goal oals (eve ven n if thos those e goal oals change) can beco com me the basis for the type of agency that that is ne nece ces ssary to cope cope with thes these co cond ndit itions ions.. Research should hould reve revea al that that those in the “ low” identity identity status tatuses (diffusion (diffusion and foreclos fore closure ure) havefe have fewe wer of the inta intangi ngible res resource ources s whe when compared red with the “ high”s high” statu tatus ses (mora (mo ratorium toriuma and nda achieve chievem ment). A s suc uch, h, I wou ould ld pre redict dict that that any nya advanta vantag ges their their tang tangible re res source ources s might have have given them them (e.g .g.. derived from a higher social-cl social-cla ass background) round) wil willl be bere redu duce ced d in the long-run long-runove over their their lilife fe-cou -cours rse e. Empiri Em pirica call assessment of the identi ntity ty capital capital conce concept can can proce procee ed with the assessment of  which of the abo bove ve-m -me entioned ntioned factor factors s best pr pre edict the most successful ne neg gotiationsin otiations in the late-m late -mod ode ern co com mmun unit ity y— in addition ition to the adva vanta ntag ges associate ociated d wit ith h hu hum man ca capita pitall and cu cult ltu ura rall c ca apit ita al, and ndco controlli ntrolling ngfor for soc ocial-cl ial-cla ass adv dva antag ntage. A prime primete tes sti ting ngg ground round for this is the un univers iversit ity y, whe here re op opp portuniti ortunitie es abo boun und d for developing veloping the tang tangible and intangible re res source ources s menti ntione oned d above bove.. Bas Based on the assumption that persona rsonal deve vellopm opment is sti tim mulate ulated d in a feli felicitou citous s environment, while hil e highe higherr soc social ial class backgrou round nd may give one an advanta vantag ge in acq cqu uiring identity identity capital, fo forr thos those who make it to unive nivers rsity, social-cla ocial-clas ss


Sociologicall perspe Sociologica rspectives on identity formation


may not not be as im imp por orta tant nt as the particular rticular univers niversity environm nvironment to which an individ individu ual is exp xpos osed. I n other other words ords, notwit notwiths hsta tand nding ing discrim discrimination, ination, any individ individual shou hould ld be able to acq cqu uire identit identity y ca capita pitall in such a co conte ntext, xt, despite social-cl ocial-cla ass background round.. One importa important im imp plilica cation of thes these fo form rmulations lations is that that to the extent xtent to which edu educational policie olicies s are based solely olely on hu hum man-capita n-capitall assumptions, institutionsg institutions governe rned d by those policies oliciesw wililll not adequately tely prep repare the their ir ward rds s for lilife fe in late-m late-mod ode ern society ociety.. C onsequently, thes these institutionsa institutions arenot re notfos fostering tering op opti tim mal identit identity y formati tion onfor for tha thatt conte context. xt.  Thes  The se are th the e ty typ pes of iss issues th tha at can be empir iric ica ally addressed with research info inforrmed by the co conce ncept of identity identity ca cap pit ita al. A s mentioned ntioned abo bove ve,, because of it its s abstractne tractnes ss and multidime ltidimens nsiona ionalility, ty,the the co conce ncept wililll lilike kely ly rem remain morethe oretheore oreti tica cal than than ope operationa rational, l, butI ut I belilie eve veit it wililll behe be helpfu lpfull in i n guiding uiding empiri irica call effortsa fforts and making sense of result lts s, as well as he helping lping usto betterli tter link nk soc ociol iolog ogical ical and ndps psycholog chological ical approa proaches to ide identity. ntity.

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