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The Cambridge Handbook of Identity
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Book description

While 'identity' is a key concept in psychology and the social sciences, researchers have used and understood this concept in diverse and often contradictory ways. The Cambridge Handbook of Identity presents the lively, multidisciplinary field of identity research as working around three central themes: (i) difference and sameness between people; (ii) people's agency in the world; and (iii) how identities can change or remain stable over time. The chapters in this collection explore approaches behind these themes, followed by a close look at their methodological implications, while examples from a number of applied domains demonstrate how identity research follows concrete analytical procedures. Featuring an international team of contributors who enrich psychological research with historical, cultural, and political perspectives, the handbook also explores contemporary issues of identity politics, diversity, intersectionality, and inclusion. It is an essential resource for all scholars and students working on identity theory and research.


‘This handbook represents an important milestone in advancing an interdisciplinary understanding of identity. The chapters offer an accessible understanding of how people across cultures form an identity, how identity remains constant or changes over time, and how societal discourses shape subjectivity. This remarkable volume introduces a diverse array of perspectives, articulating the conceptual and methodological challenges facing identity studies.’

Sunil Bhatia - Professor of Human Development and Chair of the Human Development Department, Connecticut College, USA

‘The modern history of identity is the history of an open question. As societies have become more intricate and multi-voiced, so have the ‘who am I?' questions of their members - turning into never-ending explorations. This volume impressively takes stock of them, drawing on the state of the art in psychology and the social sciences.’

Jens Brockmeier - Professor of Psychology, The American University of Paris, France

‘This handbook traces the history of the concept of identity, the different theoretical and methodological approaches to studying it, and the social domains in which it appears. Thus the handbook is an indispensable tool for anyone studying the notion of identity.’

Ian Burkitt - Emeritus Professor of Social Identity, University of Bradford, UK

‘This extremely well-written and superbly edited book is a collection of international contributions that offer new insights into identity research from multiple disciplines. Its novel approach conceptualises identity as a fluid process that continues to develop. A brilliant contribution.’

Paul M. Camic - Professor of Health Psychology, University College London, UK

‘Are we lost in the ‘who we are’ question? This book plots a concise map of the multidisciplinary, and constantly changing, identity discourse. As an invaluable pathfinder in a complex field, it helps clarify even aporetic concepts, propose fresh questions, and may well inspire groundbreaking research.’

Wolfram Fischer - Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Kassel, Germany

‘At last, we have a resource that weaves together the rich and varied strands of a topic long central to the social sciences and beyond. My gratitude to the editors for a tapestry that captures both the intellect and the imagination.’

Kenneth J. Gergen - author of Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community

‘This book fills a void in the field. For 30 years, identity theory has been experiencing a subliminal decentering: of basic concepts, methods, cultures and phenomena studied. Both editors and authors vigorously expose this trend and, without stooping to quick fixes, offer a range of key questions, in-depth discussions, and practical suggestions.’

Wolfgang Kraus - Scientific Advisory Board, Institute of Practice Research and Project Consulting (IPP), Germany

‘In this handbook, renowned authors from 20 different countries outline a broad overview of approaches to identity theory and research. The international perspectives and the endeavour for a qualitative inquiry reflect the cultural diversity in this field and inspire future directions in theorizing identity processes.’

Günter Mey - Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal, Germany, and Editor of Forum: Qualitative Social Research

‘This book is perfect for learning about cutting-edge identity research. The editors have carefully structured the book by disassembling the meaning of the word ‘identity’ and repositioning it in various contexts. This successfully allows the chapters to shed new light on the concept.’

Masahiro Nochi - Full Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Tokyo, Japan

‘In this volume, identity is analyzed and explicated in a profound and comprehensive manner. Leaving no element untouched, the problem of identity is historicized and rethought, making this important handbook a touchstone for new work in subjectivity, the self, and performative notions of identity.’

Henderikus J. Stam - Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Calgary, Canada

‘As interest in the study of identity has steadily blossomed, this handbook comes at the perfect time. The chapters, written by an impressive roster of international scholars from many disciplines, are creative and expansive in scope, providing both comprehensive overviews and new insights. It is sure to be an essential resource for years to come.’

Deborah Tannen - University Professor and Professor of Linguistics, Georgetown University, USA

‘This handbook takes a multidimensional and cross-disciplinary view of identity studies. A truly international project, this is an authoritative and accomplished handbook. It is sure to be an invaluable resource for social scientists for many years to come.’

Cristian Tileaga - Reader in Social Psychology, Loughborough University, UK

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