Wednesday, June 24, 2015

You are the groups you belong to

In the early days of this blog I wrote:
I am increasingly aware that what I value is not so much individualism as individuality - the flourishing of different sorts of people and different ways of life. (I believe I came across this distinction in Michael Ignatieff's biography of Isaiah Berlin. It is a useful one.) 
It is a concept that has something to do with the old schoolmaster's ideal of "character" and I suspect that the development of individuality requires strong institutions, such as schools that are not under central control. Teenage culture does suggest that individualism does not always produce individuality; and it is undeniable that one of the clearest ways we choose to express our individuality is through he groups we decide to join.
This video from the social psychologist Professor Alex Haslam seems relevant to that argument. He argues that it is our membership of particular social groups that gives us our identity.

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