Posts Tagged ‘identity’

13 | Youth: Part 2

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

The notion of “youth” as a fairly recent (i.e. modernist) phenomenon leads to the question of exactly why this type of life-stage geminates in the transition from pre-modernity to modernity and comes into full-flower in late-modern / postmodern societies? In other words, what Is the role played by youth culture / subcultures in society?

The answer, as you’re probably half-expecting, is one that largely depends on your sociological approach – and the first part of this chapter is given-over to an outline and evaluation of four broad sociological approaches to – and explanations of – youth.

1. Functionalist
2. Marxist
3. Feminist
4. Postmodernist

The final two parts look more-specifically at gender and ethnic relationships, partly as a means of redressing the traditional emphasis on the central role of white males in (spectacular) youth subcultures and partly as a way of examining post-subcultural, post-racial and post-feminist approaches to understanding youth behaviour:

1. Issues relating to gender expands and applies feminist and postmodernist views on youth.
2. Issues relating to ethnicity addresses the ethnocentrism inherent in some approaches to explaining youth behaviours.

Culture and Identity: Caught Between Two Worlds?

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Richard Driscoll teaches A-level Sociology at the Shenzhen College of International Education in China and you may recall an interesting piece of research – The Last Queendom of Women?  – carried-out by one of his students, Hecate Li, that provided a contemporary example of an alternative to the “conventional nuclear family”.

In this latest piece of research by one of his students, Sarah G. Zhang applies two complimentary research methods, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, to examine the question “How do experiences in different countries affect the social identities of American-born-Chinese (ABC) students” – a piece of research UK teachers and students should find useful for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, it covers the respective strengths and weaknesses of two different research methods and shows how they can be applied to a substantive research area. The use of quantitative and qualitative methods / data is also a useful example of research triangulation.

Secondly, the research gives a fascinating insight into questions of culture and identity by choosing to look at “precarious identities” – young people “caught between two very different worlds” – expressed through a wide range of cultural concepts: language, family values and relationships, work ethics, identity and social relationships.

If you want to contact Richard Driscoll about this research you can do so through Twitter.

3 | Socialisation and Identity

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

The third chapter in what’s rapidly becoming something of a legendary giveaway (in my mind at least) is one that applies the concept of socialisation to the development of a range of social and personal identities in contemporary societies (or as contemporary as things get, given this was first published in 2012).

This chapter on socialisation and identity covers a range of interesting and not-so-interesting topics that, in no particular order, include:

• Social and personal identities
• Consensus, Conflict and Action approaches to understanding identity
• Postmodernity and the development of new identities (green, cyber and transformative)
• Agencies of identity socialisation and their role in the development of:
• Gender identities
• Class identities
• Ethnic identities
• Age identities

Although the text was written to support (in a very loose sense of the word) OCR Sociology, I like to think it probably has a much greater utility across a wider range of Specifications (it might, for example, come in handy for the Culture and Identity section of AQA Sociology. Then again, it  might not).

As with previous chapters this is pre-production version that still contains printer marks (I could remove them if I could be bothered, but I can’t. Be bothered, that is).

I’d also like to make it clear that neither the pictures dotted throughout the chapters, nor the captions that accompany them, had anything to do with me. Granted, it’s taken me 5 years to notice them, but in mitigation I don’t actually look at print versions of my books on what I think is the very reasonable basis that I’ve read the words so many times I just can’t face reading them again…

BBC “Analysis” Podcasts

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Over the past 10 years BBC Radio 4’s Analysis series has created a range of podcasts “examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics”.

There are over 200 podcasts to trawl through, many of which won’t be of any interest or use to sociology teachers and students, but a relatively smaller number just might. To save you a lot of time and trouble (there’s no need to thank me, I’m nice like like) I’ve had a quick look through the list to select what I think might be the sociological highlights.


Gay Best Friends as Consumers and Commodities

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

If you’re looking for something slightly different to incorporate into your Culture and Identity / Media Sociology teaching this book chapter on “Effeminacy and Expertise, Excess and Equality: Gay Best Friends as Consumers and Commodities in Contemporary Television” by Susie Khamis and Anthony Lambert might well fit the bill.

Of particular interest here might be the way it links identity to consumerism and consumption by focusing on “the gay male best friend as a possessable, commodified identity”.

It’s probably not something you’d necessarily give to students to read – it’s quite long and complex in places – but it’s definitely something teachers might find useful to precis or draw examples from to illustrate some interesting ideas about gender, identity and consumption.

Given A-level Sociology has a largely female demographic it’s also something this particular audience may find both easy to relate to and the basis for discussion based on their own ideas and experiences.

Connecting Walls Collection

Monday, April 24th, 2017

CBSC Sociology has been busy creating and posting a huge number of revision Connecting Walls on Twitter and, in the spirit of “pinching other people’s stuff and sharing it with a wider audience”, I’ve pulled all their tweets together into one handy blog post for your – and your students’ – greater convenience.

So, if you’re looking for a fun way to spice-up classroom revision with a bit of competitive tension, try some or all of the following:


Education Wall 1

Education Wall 2

Education Wall 3

Education Wall 4  

Education Wall 5


Five Functions of Identity

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

A great deal of discussion about identity at a-level can be fairly abstract and concerned with the mechanics of construction – how and why, for example, certain identities are created and assumed. In the midst of all this some relatively simple questions sometimes get obscured – an idea addressed by Adams and Marshall (1996) when they suggest five functions of identity; here the focus on what identity does for the individual and, by extension, society, ‘rather than how identity is constructed’ – and we can use a relatively simple education example to illustrate these functions:

  1. Structure: Identities provide a ‘framework of rules’, used to guide behaviour when playing certain roles, that helps us understand our relationship to others.
  2. Goals: We develop a sense of purpose by setting goals for our behaviour. A ‘student identity’, for example, involves the desire to achieve goals like educational qualifications.
  3. Personal control: Identities provide a measure of ‘active self-regulation’ in terms of deciding what we want to achieve and how we plan to achieve it. An A-level student, for example, understands the need to take notes to help them remember the things they might be tested on in an exam.
  4. Harmony: When adopting a particular identity (such as teacher or student) we have to ensure the commitments we make (the things others expect from us) are consistent with our personal values and beliefs. A teacher or student who sees education as a waste of time is unlikely to be able to successfully perform this particular role.
  5. Futures: Identities allow us to ‘see where we are going’ in terms of likely or hoped-for outcomes (what we want to achieve). A student identity, for example, has a future orientation: the role may be performed to achieve the goal of going to university, which requires the passing of A-level exams.


Beyond Milgram: Obedience and Identity

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Association for the Teaching of Psychology review of our new film by Punam Farmah

So you think you know Milgram and his experiments, inside and out? Well, the chances are this film will get you thinking again.

Written by Steve Taylor and presented by Clare Parsons, this twenty-minute film is based around the original, re-interpretation of Milgram’s findings according to social psychology professors Alex Haslam and Steve Reicher. There is always a debate as to how dated much of the research on the specifications is, and how it can remain relevant to those studying. Milgram’s research has celebrated many anniversaries, and even now the hard hitting results cause questions and a pursuit of answers as to why we, as humans do some of the things we do. This film goes some way towards answering that with a contained unit of learning that will support and reinforce material that is delivered to students by making the study relevant and pertinent. Helpfully, the film is broken up into 3 parts which can be watched and discussed all together or shown over a number of lessons.



Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Although the distinction (and relationship) between personal and social identities is an important way of understanding this concept in A-level Sociology, if you want to take your understanding a little further you need to think about two additional, complementary, ideas:

  1. Being: This way of thinking about identity focuses on how social identities, considered in terms of ideas like class, age, gender and ethnicity, are lived in terms of the meanings they are given in various cultures. “To be” male or female, young or old, middle class or lower class” and so forth involves understanding the various cultural characteristics and expectations associated with these identities. Having been given socially-ascribed statuses such as “young male” or “young female” you might want to reflect on the cultural associations and meanings they hold.
  2. Doing: A second, more-nuanced, dimension to identity is the work we have to do in order to maintain such identities – both on a personal level (how do I interpret my identity as a young male or female?) and a social level (what do others expect from me once they understand this particular aspect of my identity?). Think about the work you have to do, as a young male or female, to maintain this particular identity. It might also be helpful to compare your ideas with your male and female classmates.


7 days of social science research

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

This ESRC YouTube page contains 7 short (5 – 6 minute) introductory films covering a range of topics that can be used to introduce, highlight and illustrate various aspects of the mainly AS Specification:

  • Image and identity
  • Charity
  • Poverty and inequality
  • Migration
  • Family and relationships
  • Work and employment
  • Happiness and wellbeing


Monday, July 28th, 2014

Set of free films from the University of Manchester with the focus on ethnicity.

These short – 3 – 4 minute – films currently focus on two aspects of ethnicity – it’s relationship to inequality (employment and health) and identity – examining different ways to talk about ethnic identity.

National Identity

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

The British Social Attitudes survey is useful in the context of defining national identity because it reflects how individuals themselves define their identity. This has two useful dimensions:

Firstly. it gives a broad insight into the different meanings involved in the conceptualisation of identity.

Secondly, it gives students a lot of scope for practical evaluations of this type of definition.

The data is available:


Download (select “National Identity” then “Download separate chapters” if you just want the Identity data).

New Media: The Rise of the Selfie

Friday, June 6th, 2014

With the greater emphasis on New Media in the new 2015 Sociology Specs, what better time to examine the rise of the Selfie?

Research Methods: Experiments

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

If you’re looking for contemporary examples of experiments with sociological applications, this recent study might be useful at both AS (Culture and Identity) and A2 (Differentiation) levels.