Identity Control Theory

  • Burke P
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Identity control theory (ICT) focuses on the nature of persons identities (who they are) and the relationship between the persons identities and their behavior within the context of the social structure within which the identities are embedded. ICT grows out of identity theory (Stryker, 1994; Stryker and Burke, 2000) and structural symbolic interaction theory more generally (Stryker, 1980). Central to all of these theories, including the symbolic interaction perspective, is the idea that behavior is premised on a named and classified world and that people in society name each other and themselves in terms of the positions they occupy. Further, these positional labels or names and the expectations attached to them become internalized as the identities that make up the self. These self labels thus define persons in terms of positions in society and these positions carry the shared behavioral expectations. Further, these positions, conventionally labeled roles and groups, are relational in the sense that they tie individuals together. For example, with respect to roles, father is tied to son or daughter; with respect to groups, the in-group is related to the out-group and in-group members are related to other in-group members. This is reflective of William James notion that people have asmany selves as they have relationships to others (James, 1890). Thus, through their identities, people are intimately tied to the social structure,.

Author-supplied keywords

  • identity theory
  • role-taking
  • self
  • social psychology

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  • Peter J Burke

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