chapter  One
The nature of identity and its role in social problems
ByMark Bracher
Pages 42

This chapter sketches out a more adequate and comprehensive account of human motivation than is present in most social theories, all of which are based on a more or less explicit and comprehensive theory of human motivation. Effectively addressing social problems requires understanding the causes of human behaviour: first, the causes of those behaviours that constitute social problems, and second, the causes of those behaviours that cause the causes of the primary behaviours. The chapter suggests that all human behaviour is ultimately motivated by the need to maintain one’s identity. Our behaviour is the result of our continuous effort to maintain or enhance this identity, or sense of self. Some identity-bearing signifiers can lead fairly directly to social problems, while others can lead to social benefits. As Antonio Damasio’s account indicates, our sense of self requires an integration and sustained activation of three different registers of experience and memory: the affective-physiological, the perceptual-imagistic, and the conceptual-linguistic.