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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, theories of identity involving internal processes are analyzed using William James’s distinction between the “I” as knower, an active, autonomous agent, and the “me” as known, the object of thoughts about one’s being. The theories reviewed are psychosocial theory, the identity status paradigm, the identity style paradigm, eudaimonic identity theory, narrative approaches to identity, discursive identity theory, and post-modern/social-constructionist theory. Consideration is given to the ways in which these theories address the content of identity, the processes by which such contents are formed, and the functions identity is seen as serving. The theories reviewed are not considered to be in conflict with each other but rather as giving different emphasis to the various internal, external, and interactional processes described. Implications for future research in the field are discussed.

Keywords: Discursive identity, essentialist philosophy, eudaimonic identity theory, existentialism, identity status, identity style, narrative identity, psychosocial theory, saturated self, William James

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