chapter  19
8 Pages

Identity and its development in adulthood

WithSheila Rossan

The theoretical framework Much of the research purporting to investigate identity is on self-esteem (see, for example, Webster and Sobieszek, 1974; Wylie, 1979), although self-esteem appears to be a minor component of the spontaneous self-concept (McGuire and PadawerSinger, 1976). Perhaps it is investigated so frequently because it is relatively easy to assess, compared with assessing changes in the content of identity, particularly changes of a complex nature. Why are multifaceted, complicated changes in identity rarely investigated? It may be that there is no generally accepted theory about its structure. This chapter addresses itself to just this issue: What is identity? How can it be envisaged in a way that is meaningful to researchers? Although the research reported here is concerned with changes for women during pregnancy and early motherhood, the period chosen is less crucial than the development of the theory itself. Why this particular time-span was chosen is clarified later in the chapter.