chapter  11
Cultural Identity and Personal Identity: Philosophical Reflections on the Identity Discourse of Social Psychology
Pages 28

Personal identity, which was originally a purely philosophical concept and

then a central theme for a wide variety of psychological subdisciplines, has

nowbecome a (if not the)major social and educational issue especially, but not

exclusively, in culturally diverse societies such as the United States. Consider

the following set of questions posed by two prominent critical multiculturalist

theorists (Kincheloe & Steinbert, 1997):

In this chapter we do not directly address these problems because our con-

cern is a second-order one of seeing how those who ask (and try to answer)

such questions are using the word identity as a category of human experience.

As the quote illustrates, there is a consensus among thosewhowrite on the sub-

ject that group identity is usually forged in a social and political context that in-

cludes-but is considerably broader than-classical anthropological notions

of culture as aworldview or sharedway of life. However, identity is also amat-

ter of profound importance for the psychological development and well-being

of individual agents. Identity theorists sometimes emphasize the social-cul-

tural side of identity and sometimes the personal-psychological side, but they

seldom distinguish between the two. Andwhen they do, the distinction is often

flawed, aswe showbydiscussing certain developments in social psychology.