Social Identity Theory

According to one, Tajfel 1978, social identity refers to an understanding of an individual’s sense of belonging in relation to membership grouping, such as one’s family, social class or even social club. A number of theories have been formulated to give meaning to a person’s identity and behaviour with reference to psychology. According to these researches, some of them support the social identity hypothesis, while others challenge it, or have simply failed to support it. On this note, a lot of significance is given to Tajfel’s social identity theory, devoted specifically to provide an insight into an individual’s way of living in the society, with regards to social structures (Haslam, 2014).
This paper examines the contribution of Tajfel’s social identity theory concerning how psychology, leadership, identity and human social behaviour correlates with each other to give meaning to one’s sense of belonging. Further, the study is meant to provide a comprehension of social identity, subject to the underlying assumptions and arising questions, whose answers would either develop the ideas of the subject matter or contradict it.
Background Information of Tajfel Social Identity Theory
According to psychologists, social identity has a hand in the definition of human traits, which later translates to behaviour (Gao, and Riley 2010). Giving reference to social identity as a whole, Tajfel and Turner among other colleagues, came up with a theory basically dedicated to ignite social identity knowledge and conceptualise an individual’s behaviour and belonging, with emphasis on group membership (Tajfel 1978). Right from its inception in 1970s, this theory rose to prominence to streamline the logic that links membership alliances in terms of social status, to a person’s personality, arguing that identity is less of an individual’s selfhood but more of compound selves coupled with allied groups. This leads to the original perception of social identity theory as the broad-spectrum about human social personality (Gaertner, et al.2016).
It’s further stated that a number of identity theories with contradicting arguments in operation, the likes of Sherif’s ‘boys camp studies, prompted the formulation of the Tajfel social identity theory, to rationalise the ideas that didn’t make social identity sense in accordance with Tajfel arguments. The Sherif’s ‘boys camp studies incepted in 1949 argued for the idea that groups act as a source through which hostility can be harbored, in situations where competition prevail leading to disagreements among the members of the groups(Tajfel 1978).
As Hitlin 2003 puts it, Tajfel social identity theory was solely formulated with a bigger picture of going beyond what a number of psychologists went for. Unlike other psychologist’s ideologies concerning the rationalization of human actions, such as using nature and nurture to define human behaviours, Tajfel dug deep into how the system of beliefs and social structures influence human routines. This being the case, acknowledging Tajfel 1978 arguments, its logical to think that the membership groups not only elaborate on individual’s self-esteem and self-importance, but also, magnify a whole meaning on the relevance of belonging in the world where social status dictates public perception.
Social Identity Theory
In reference to the study conducted by Gecas 1982, social identity theory emphasises the fact that individual’s are entitled to their actions depending on definite social contexts. Additionally, persons tend to behave in ways that clearly define specific social setting. An example is given concerning the reality that individuals being defined by a particular social identity, say family, will do exactly everything that differentiates that specific family from other families (Hogg 2017). With regards to Gaertner, et al.2016, Tajfel social identity theory highlighted an evaluation methodology that points to the use of words such as in-group and out-group to give a sense of belonging. At no point will these two groups work in synchrony to bring forth a positive outcome, instead a high-level discrimination ground is evidently enhanced to differentiate the sense of self. The fall-out between the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda exemplifies the huge bloke that lies between the in-groups and out-groups.
Social Identity and Self-categorization Processes
Basing on the study put forward by Hogg 2000, the membership grouping in social identity theory further materialised into three major approaches of categorisation:
Social Categorisation; in this approach groups are assigned to individuals basing on particular social categories such as race, religion and occupation, in order to differentiate one person from another.  Example, differentiating Muslims from Christians, blacks from whites and lawyers from doctors.
Social Identification; in this category, specific group members are expected to act according to what their particular groups dictates. The idea here it to put significance to issues relating to an individual’s self-esteem and emotions. Giving an example of a doctor in the line of practice; only attributes that relates to the doctor’s profession are expected to be noted (Hirschfeld and Field 2000).
Social Comparison; competition is the basis of this category, in the sense that once it becomes clear that one belongs to a particular group, its only coherent that this person affiliates with the group members in a way that  makes the group in question to stand out over others, in comparison. Competitiveness and prejudice are some of the factors that vividly define this category (Gaertner, et al.2016). Sherif’s ‘boys camp studies, provides an elaborate commentary on this issue, arguing that membership grouping necessitates hostility as a reaction to rivalry (Burke and Reitzes 1991).
The social identity theory amplifies a number of aspects that have gained touch with the current world on contemporary issues. Prejudice, discrimination, racism, corruption, stereotyping and assassinations, the list is endless. All this factors owe their inception to the grouping of the ins and outs as illustrated by Tajfel (Gaertner, et al.2016).
Social Identity and Role Performance
According to Gecas 1982, social identity brings out a person’s self-esteem as gauge of self-concept. Social identity translates into human traits drawing a connection between identity and behaviour (Hirschfeld and Field 2000).That being said, conceptualising ideology of identity, gives meaning to the degree at which self-concept can exist (Gecas 1982). This research depicts that an individual in a particular social context will partake social activities, strongly embracing related roles that characterises performance (Burke and Reitzes 1981). For this reason, it’s affirmed that there is a strong linkage between identity and performance to (Herman and Chiu 2014).
The social identity theory was formulated partly basing on sets of hypotheses which later established a standing into reality. This is in accordance with the major platforms under which this theory thrives; the in-groups and the out-groups, whose immediate by-products refer to racism and other forms of discrimination. Keeping scores of discrimination cases heading the news headlines on national television, it can be logically reasoned that the social identity theory has provided clear-cut results that practically seconds the current happenings in extremely pronounced levels.  For this reasons, despite membership grouping as a way of generating social identity, it’s rational to think that the social grouping is not free of limitations.
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Gao, Y. and Riley, M. 2010 ‘’Knowledge and identity: A review’’, International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(3), pp.317-334.
Gecas, V.  1982 “The self-concept”, Annual Review of Sociology , 8, pp.1-33.
Hirschfeld, R. R. and Field, H. S.  2000 “Work centrality and work alienation: distinct aspects of a general commitment to work”, Journal of Organizational Behavior , 21(7), pp.789-800.
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Gaertner, S.L., Dovidio, J.F., Guerra, R., Hehman, E. and Saguy, T., 2016. A common ingroup identity: Categorization, identity, and intergroup relations. Handbook of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination,, pp.433-454.
Haslam, S.A., van Knippenberg, D., Platow, M.J. and Ellemers, N. eds., 2014. Social identity at work: Developing theory for organizational practice. Psychology Press.
Herman, H.M. and Chiu, W.C., 2014. Transformational leadership and job performance: A social identity perspective. Journal of Business Research, 67(1), pp.2827-2835.

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