In this article, During discusses the concept of an individual’s identity and how it is influenced by society. The author argues that “identity is won at the price of reducing individuality”. By this he states that individuals are grouped into certain categories that describe their identity and their true individuality is lost as a result. As well, identities are often “culturally inflicted” or based upon a person’s traits (e.g. gender, nationality).
During also points out that “because identities are partial, they leave spaces outside of themselves”. I agree with this notion because I think that an individual’s character cannot be fully encompassed by a particular classification (e.g. man, woman, conservative etc.). Instead, people can fall under certain categories as defined by society but maintain their individuality at the same time. I would consider certain social classifications to fit my identities but certain aspects of my individuality could not necessarily be generalized.
The concept of “identity politics” is also discussed by During. One key factor to note is that “identity politics tends to erase internal differences”. For example, the feminist movement was almost crippled as it failed to mark the difference between women of different classes or different ethnicities. The author also explores the idea of “hybridity” where identity is conceived not as a fixed marker but in terms of the processes or performances by which identities are formed”. Considering this, identities are constantly changing and evolving, in essence, by the different experiences of individuals and the changing circumstances in their lives.
I agree with During in that an individual can have different identities and that the concept of identity is not longer as rigid as it used to be. Via access to common media, people from different backgrounds, nationalities and those exhibiting different traits have converged to a greater extent. At the same time, I do believe that individuals play a role in creating their own self identities and perhaps society does not have as great an influence as During argues. Personally, I can identify certain elements that have been shaped by society (e.g. clothing preferences), but simultaneously I maintain my unique attributes (e.g. importance of friends and family) as prescribed by my own values. Overall, the media does play a significant role in influencing social norms and activities, which in turn impact one’s identity.
During, S, “Debating Identity”: Cultural Studies, Routhledge, 2005, pgs. 145-152
ARTS1090 – W11A