Identity and Social Change

Identity and Social Change. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2000
Joseph Davis, editor

There has been a variable explosion of writing in recent years about the concept of identity. Amidst this outpouring, the most influential writing has emerged from identity politics and academic postmodernism. These movements focus on the construction of difference, the solidarity of marginal groups, and the epistemological status of the subject. While of far-reaching significance, these movements have also led to a general neglect of the structural and institutional forces behind a wider problem of identity. Identity and Social Change moves beyond these dominant trends to explore neglected but critical terrain. The contributors place the problem of identity in a broader context and approach the formation of identity in a social rather than discursive framework.

The volume is divided into two parts. The first explores identity and subjectivity in light of economic changes, new technologies, consumerism, and globalization, while the second focuses on the much-discussed question of identity dissolution. Zygmunt Bauman examines the effects of consumerism on experiences of time, distancee, and place, and considers the constraints these place on the disadvantaged. Drawing together disparate discourses of globalization and the body, David Harvey considers the explosive growth of the wage labor system worldwide and its consequences for worker subjectivity and a global proletariat. Mike Featherstone outlines a rethinking of citizenship and identity-formation in light of the realities of globalization and new information technologies.

The second part opens with Robert G. Dunn's examination of cultural commodification and the attenuation of self and social relations, in which he argues that media, marketplace, and new orders of experience point to formation. Kenneth J. Gergen argues that proliferating communications technologies undermine the traditional conceptions of self and community and suggest the need for a new base for building the moral society. Analyzing psychotherapies that address self-fragmentation. Harvie Ferguson argues that despite the contemporary infatuation with irony, the decline of the notion of the self as an inner depth effectively severs the long connection between irony and identity. This important collection will be of interest to professionals in psychology, sociology, and communications.