cultur

Rethinking Social Categorisation

Rethinking Social Categorisation

            Tejftel and Turner unpack ‘social identity’ as the phenomenon through which individuals associate themselves with groups that provide them with a sense of belonging, as well as an additional source of pride and self-esteem. Social identity differs from personal identity – the distinction was made by William James in the 19th century. In his work, he explicates the difference between the ‘me’ and the ‘I’. Whereas the former makes for the sociological component of the individual, the latter makes for the personal component of the individual. Social identity, as explained by Tejftel and Turner, is formed in three steps: self-categorisation, social identification with the chosen group(s) and social comparison (of one’s chosen group to the out-groups). In their piece “The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behaviour”, Tejftel and Turner thus make the argument that social identity is spontaneous, malleable and voluntary, and that its formation and consolidation are overall individual processes. Through this article, we suggest that social identity has been redefined and institutionalised in a way that feeds into our system’s problematic obsession with categorisation.