Theory: Identity

 Concept of Identity in relation to Giddens, Rose and Rutherford

In my mind map, I mentioned that I wanted to explore how the Internet shapes our online identity. However, before I could look at identity in relation to the Internet, I wanted to first look at the theoretical framework that exists on identity as a general concept. This will be done in order to understand how identity is performed in the modern society and how it is influenced.

Quote 1: ‘Modernity opens up the project of the self, but under conditions strongly influenced by the standardizing effects of commodity capitalism’ (Giddens, 1991, p.196). 

This quote discusses the fact that our self-identity is influenced by capitalistic values of standardization. Despite the fact that in our modern world, we are given an impression of being able to work on the self thought the promotion of individualism, it is actually an illusion because our identities are constantly subjected to influence of others. This makes me think that identity can be easily manipulated.

Quote 2 : ‘Identity has become a more privatized and individualized affair, increasingly defined by social standing and the purchasing of status-giving positional goods’ (Rutherford, p.6).

This relates to the previous quote in a sense that as a society, we are unsatisfied with the things that we have and we are constantly coerced into buying various things. These goods then serve as a representation of our identity. These products are therefore giving our identities value. This once again reveals the presence of capitalistic values and since identities can be influenced, they are then manipulated to buy products.

Quote 3: Identities are not chosen freely, but are intensely governed (Rose, 1999). 

Rose adopts a Foucauldian framework to explain that identities are governed. This perspective is similar to the two previous quotes as it comments on the fact that our identities are not created by us but rather they are imposed and controlled by others. In other words, our identities are constantly affected by external forces that dictate how we should behave and act. This could be applied to online identities as we are constantly disciplined online by social media platforms and advertising companies who regulate the societal norms online as well as the content that we see.

Based on these quotes, it could be argued that identity is controlled and influenced by outside sources. In other words, even when you make choices, your choice is actually influenced and constructed for you. Thus, in this digital age, it is nearly impossible for anyone to really know much about themselves as we are constantly disciplined online. The project of the self is redirected, by the corporate world into a set of shopping opportunities. I thought that this research was beneficial to identifying the perspectives on identity in contemporary world, now I want to look at exploring the concept of identity in relation to the internet.


Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

Rose, N. (1999). Governing the Soul, The Shaping of the Private Self. London: Free Association Books.

Rutherford, J. (2007). After Identity. Continuum, 21(1), pp.5-18.


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