Identity and Sociological Theories

by Youssef Abou-Samra, Destiny McCrory, and Ty Meadors


James Marcia could be considered the most famous person who studied the formation of identity. Marcia's identity theory includes the idea that identity is based off of two things: occupation and ideology. It separates the identities into four different stages. The first is identity diffusion, which states that the person has a weak idea of who they are and what their identity is. People in this stage of identity are more prone to loneliness. The second stage is foreclosure. In this stage people make commitments to beliefs without exploring opportunities. Next is moratorium; here you explore many different opportunities, but remain indecisive. The final stage is identity achievement. People in this stage have explored many things and have made a commitment to these ideas.

Social Identity

Social identity is a person's sense of who they are based on their group membership. The Social Identity Theory was created in 2008 by Saul McLeod. The theory focuses on three points: dividing the world into "them" and "us" through a process of social categorization, the in-group and the out-group, and the in-group discriminating against the out-group to enhance their self image.

Social Interactionism

Social Interactionism is a theory that has been pondered by George Herbert Mead and Erving Goffman. This theory traces its roots to pragmatism and psychological behaviorism. Both ideas view thinking as a process. There are three basic principles of social interactionsm. The first one states that human beings possess the capacity for thought, which is shaped by social interaction. The second principle states that people learn meanings and symbols through social interaction. The last principle states that people are able to modify or alter the meanings and symbols.


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