In this lesson, we’ll look at how identity can often become a source of conflict by discussing:
Identity is a person's sense of self, or how a person defines himself or herself; there are many factors that go into our self definition.
Some common factors include:
How we respond to situations, particularly those involving conflict, is influenced by this sense of identity.
You have probably heard people say things like, “I wasn't raised to act like that," or “That's not the way we do things around here.” Phrases like these reflect that people are identifying with particular groups.
When we identify ourselves as members of a certain group, this influences the way we might behave towards other people that aren't part of that group.
In terms of identity, there are two ways of looking at groups:
The in-group is the group in which a given person defines herself or himself as a member. In everyday life, we all define ourselves as members of an in-group. These groups can include:
We feel like we share certain values with others who are part of the same group, and we may behave in a certain way because we are all part of that group.
The out-group, however, is the group in which a given person does not define himself or herself as a member. Depending on you how define yourself, the out-group could be:
Conflict can arise when people have negative assumptions about or use labels to describe those in a group outside of theirs.
Let’s say that in a high school, there’s a group that's considered the popular group, and students who are not part of that group are bullied, as they considered a part of the out-group.
The popular group makes negative assumptions about them, labeling them “geeks” and “nerds.”
In the United States after 9/11, there were a lot of negative perceptions about people who are Muslims, or people with Middle-Eastern backgrounds. The people who held those negative assumptions would oftentimes apply them to the entire group, and this led to conflict.
While the negative assumptions were only based on the actions of a few, they were unfairly applied to everyone in that group.
In the United States, there are red states and blue states; conflict can arise based on the people in one party’s perception of the people in the other party.
Consider the factors that define your personal identity:
In this lesson, you learned how our identities are constructed based on the factors that influenced us as we were growing up, the way we see ourselves, and the groups that we belong to (in-groups).
You now know that issues can arise when we see ourselves as distinct from another group (out-group), and then apply negative assumptions about identity to that group. Awareness of this can help us better understand how identity plays a role in conflict.Good luck!
Source: Adapted from Sophia tutorial by Marlene Johnson.
A person's sense of self; the way an individual defines himself or herself.
The group in which a given person defines herself or himself as a member.
The group in which a given person does not define himself or herself as a member.