Personal identity refers to the unique ways that people define themselves as individuals (the “I”). Personal Identity markers are often the things we choose to define us throughout our lives - team affiliation, musical tastes, style.
Social identity refers to people's self-categorizations in relation to their group memberships (the “we”). These categorizations are often assigned to us or something we are born into.
Examples of social identity include: race, ethnicity, gender, sex, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, age, religion/religious beliefs, national origin, and emotional, developmental disabilities and abilities.
The video Social Identity Theory gives an in-depth look at social identity and how it plays a role in our lives through social categorization, social identification, and social comparison. It also talks about how S.I. gives us a sense of belonging.
In her essay Choose Your Own Identity, available here as a PDF, writer Bonnie Tsui asserts that the need to categorize people into specific race groups will never feel entirely relevant to the rising generation of mixed race Americans, whose perceptions of who they are can change by the day, depending on the people they’re with.
This piece by Cherokee and Blackfeet writer Mariah Gladstone highlights how the U.S. government has long exploited the construct of race to wrongly define Native Americans as a racial category. This has helped Whites to adopt policies promoting the genocide of Indigenous people, the destruction of their families and the repression of their traditions.
When did you first become aware of aspects of your identity?
Describe a moment you were aware that your identity influenced the way people perceive you.