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Social Identity Theory for Disabled People Essay


Theories of identity

Personal identity is crucial to the well-being of a person. Individuals with the identity crisis find it hard to fit in any human context. Most people involved in criminal activities have either social or personal identity problems. Teenagers and adolescents are more susceptible to social identity issues because it is at this stage of life that people discover their core identity (Tajfel, 2010). The human body contributes a great deal to an individual’s identity. The relationship between the body and the psychological aspect of life explains the misguided actions of most young people.

Social identity theory

At teenage, people’s bodies begin to form certain aspects that define the identity of a person. As the physical and biological changes of the body occur, the social and psychological development of people continues to change. At this stage in life, people would feel more comfortable interacting with certain groups of people and not others. The association or avoidance of certain groups helps a person to develop a certain sense of identity (Miell, Phoenix & Thomas, 2007).

In addition, people alter their body appearances to redefine their identity. The brain, on the other hand, determines how people feel about themselves. Therefore, the physical body and the brain functionality have a significant impact on an individual’s sense of identity.

The social identity theory explains how the social aspect of life affects and shapes the identity of a person. Human beings are social beings, and they constantly have a desire to belong. Therefore, people tend to form groups that define their identity in many ways. An ideal example of common groups around the world that define the identity of peopl is the different social status groups. People always assimilate the characteristics of the groups in which they belong, to their personal identity. In some situation, people choose certain ways of life like the kind of houses to live in or the type of cars to drive depending on group identity.

People of a particular group discriminate against those of other groups as being superior or inferior to them. The superior groups maintain their positions and identity by intimidating the inferior groups while those in inferior groups make efforts to improve their status. The group mentality causes people to think in a “we” perspective rather than an “I” perspective (DeLamater & Ward, 2013). An individual would fail or refuse to do something that is of importance to them simply because the action does not fit with their group identity. As such, the social identity propagated by the group becomes the core identity of people within that group.

Relationship between the theory and disabled people’s identity

The social identity theory explains the group identity assumed by people with physical disabilities. The fact that these people possess certain complications in their physical bodies helps to bring them together. Today, there are many organizations and movements formed by people with disabilities. One advantage of group identity is it helps people to feel comfortable and positive with their conditions.

The disability groups help to instil hope in people with physical impairments. The struggles that people with physical disability face in the real world helps to unite them regardless of the differences in their disabilities. Many activists today argue that the rest of the world should give people with physical disabilities equal opportunities with their counterparts. The needs of physically impaired people make them a little less functional in certain jobs and professions (Hogg & Terry, 2014).

For instance, jobs such as construction can be rather challenging for a person with limb impairments. Such limits make the disabled people feel left out, hence the need to fight for equality. The idea that these people fight for equality shows that they feel discriminated against by the rest of the world. In addition, the fight for equality brings out the idea of in-group and out-group perceptions. People with disabilities view their condition as inferior, thus making them fight the superior groups.

The fight against the title “disability” is an aspect of identity that is easily explainable through the social identity theory. The title makes them feel unworthy and inferior to the rest of the people in the world. As a result, many activists have come up with different theories to demystify the notions associated with the title disability (Stroebe, 2011). The disability title confines people to a weaker position; therefore, the people with physical disability try to redefine their identity by using different titles for their condition. The desire to rise above the conditions surrounding the people within the disability group supports many of the social identity theory claims (Nolt & Meyers, 2007).

For instance, the theory suggests that people in inferior groups tend to work their way up to redefine their identity. In the current world, people with physical disabilities are more involved in physical activities than they were in the last few decades. The involvement in everyday life is one way that the disabled people use to redefine their conditions and fit in the society.

Consciousness of identity

People with physical disabilities are quite conscious of their conditions, especially those who acquire the disability at the adult age. According to social identity theorists, the consciousness is triggered by the fact that a person moves from a superior group to a minority group. In most cases, people who get physically impaired at a later stage in life change their social setup completely. First, people change their social circles because they do not feel adequate in such setups.

The in-group and out-group perceptions set in as a person tries to redefine their identity (Malhotra & Rowe, 2013). Secondly, people choose a different group of friends to hang out with because the society requires them to engage with a certain group of people. In both cases, the group becomes the central measure of identity. The perception of life changes completely once a person becomes physically impaired. In some situations, people leave their families or working positions to engage a different set up because of the out-group mentality (Schwartz, Luyckx & Vignoles, 2011).

Reference List

Delamater, J & Ward, A 2013, Handbook of social psychology, Springer, New York.

Hogg, M & Terry, D 2014, Social Identity Processes in Organizational Contexts, Taylor and Francis, Hoboken.

Malhotra, R & Rowe, M 2013, Exploring Disability Identity and Disability Rights through Narratives Finding a Voice of Their Own, Taylor and Francis, Hoboken.

Miell, D, Phoenix, A & Thomas, K 2007, Mapping Psychology, Open University, Milton Keynes.

Nolt, S & Meyers, T 2007, Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and identities, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore Md.

Schwartz, S, Luyckx, K & Vignoles, V 2011, Handbook of identity theory and research, Springer, New York.

Stroebe, W 2011, Social psychology, and health, Open University Press, Maidenhead.

Tajfel, H 2010, Identity, and Intergroup relations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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IvyPanda. "Social Identity Theory for Disabled People." September 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-identity-theory-for-disabled-people/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Social Identity Theory for Disabled People." September 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-identity-theory-for-disabled-people/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Social Identity Theory for Disabled People'. 13 September.

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