Tma 06: Evaluate the Claim That Changes in Personal Identity Are Due to Changes in Practices and Habits?

To understand how what an individual experiences or does through the course of their lifetime can change both their view and society’s view of themselves, it is first important to attempt to define what is “personal identity”?   One viewpoint is a person’s own idea of self who they think they are - “the real me”.   This vision can be arrived at through a combination “evidence” such as childhood experiences, socioeconomic background and even possible biological characteristics.   But it is not accepted generally in social science because it would suggest that personal identity is somehow “fixed” or to use the word from the text “essential” and therefore does not change. However, the main argument against an essential personal identity is we as individuals learn practices and habits that inform our personal identity as we live. Our behaviours/viewpoints and how we navigate and interact with the world changes. (Taylor, 2009, p. 170)

Up to the 1950’s psychological research focussed on development of the personality from birth throughout childhood suggesting that the majority of personal identity was largely formed by the time the individual reached adulthood with little change thereafter.   (Hollway, 2009, p. 252)  

A development psychologist called Erik Erikson put forward another theory that identity change is possible at all stages of life from “cradle to grave” largely based upon two factors – experiences and tasks.   Singularly and combined these factors make an individual unique in their own right from others even of the same gender, age, cultural background or nationality.   His argument was that a human being passed through eight stages of life with the transition from one stage to the next often driven not by age alone but by conflict.   Erickson is credited with having coined the phrase “identity crisis” in regard to these transitions.   However, he argued that conflicts encountered by an individual over their lifetime did not have to be either huge or...