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The Past, Present, and Future of an Identity Theory

Sheldon Stryker and Peter J. Burke
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 63, No. 4, Special Millenium Issue on the State of Sociological Social Psychology (Dec., 2000), pp. 284-297
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2695840
Page Count: 14
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The Past, Present, and Future of an Identity Theory
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Abstract

Among the many traditions of research on "identity," two somewhat different yet strongly related strands of identity theory have developed. The first, reflected in the work of Stryker and colleagues, focuses on the linkages of social structures with identities. The second, reflected in the work of Burke and colleagues, focuses on the internal process of self-verification. In the present paper we review each of these strands and then discuss ways in which the two relate to and complement one another. Each provides a context for the other: the relation of social structures to identities influences the process of self-verification, while the process of self-verification creates and sustains social structures. The paper concludes with examples of potentially useful applications of identity theory to other arenas of social psychology, and with a discussion of challenges that identity theory must meet to provide a clear understanding of the relation between self and society.

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