Evaluate the Claim That Identity Is Determined by Relationships

Evaluate the claim that identity is determined by relationships.
The purpose of this assignment is to evaluate the claim that identity is determined by relationships. This assignment begins by defining identity.   The assignment will then examine several theories which might help to answer the assignment question.   The theories examined are that of Erikson, Goffman, Billig and Freud.   The assignment will examine the strengths and weaknesses of each theory to help to conclude how relevant relationships are in identity. Finally the conclusion will summarise the assignments findings.
Identity is a combination of several components.   A person’s identity could be referring to them as an individual or a group member.   In both cases that person’s identity is distinguished by a set of behavioural or personal characteristics. To understand the relevance of relationships to identity we need to look at identity in more detail.   The next paragraph begins this process by looking at Erikson’s theory.  
Erik Erikson in the 1950’s was interested in changes in a person’s identity throughout their whole life.   Developmental psychologists had previously looked at the changes in children and stopped at adolescence.   Erikson defined identity as a sense of ones continuity over time as an individual that is different from others.   Erikson defined eight stages of life through which he claimed identity change was inevitable.   He looked at how identity is shaped by influences from the past as well as how it changes as people encounter new conflicts in their everyday lives.   Erikson’s theory was that everyday conflict in life due to foreseeable changes in life circumstances was the main drive behind identity change.   An example of this is the transition between adolescence and early adulthood (Hollway, 2009, pg.252).   Erikson’s theory is more about the individual and does not explore relationship on a particularly significant level. Next possible a weakness in Erikson’s theory is...