Research Essay On Social Psychology

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Word Count

2000 words


Social Psychology


3 Days

Assignment Criteria

In addition, write an introduction (200 words) and a conclusion (300 words) for your essay. The introduction should: explain the reader which three seminars you have chosen and the accompanying articles; briefly alter the reader to the key features of the essay argument to follow. The conclusion should reflect on the three articles you have chosen in terms of how they each further knowledge and debate in critical social psychology.

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Assignment Solution


Critical social psychology is a very important field as it enables us to make sense of ourselves and the world around us in a nuanced manner. Regular categorizations and/or assumptions about identities were created for our convenience, but these categories often preclude us from seeing the whole picture. It is, thus, essential to complicate our understanding of these categories, since as human beings, we assume many such roles, identities, and emotions. The three seminars that have been chosen, illustrate such complexity in our identities. The first seminar is on Intersectionality and the accompanying article is 'Racial and Gender Identity Among Black Adolescent Males: An Intersectionality Perspective' (Rogers, Scott & Way 2015). The article examines identity through the intersection of race and gender among black, adolescent males and establishes an important correlation. The second seminar is on Performing Identity and the accompanying article is – ''You have one identity': performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn' (Dijck 2013). Social networking websites such as these, often become stages of the performance of self-expression and self-promotion. Additionally, they have become sites of contention between users, employers, and platform-owners. The third seminar is on Emotion and Social Interaction and the accompanying article is – Gaming Emotions in Social Interactions (Andrade & Ho 2009). People often game their emotions i.e. strategically modify their current emotional state, if they believe it would influence someone else's behavior and/or actions, for their own benefit. 


Intersectionality is a concept often employed in the field of gender studies. However, it is important in the field of critical social psychology due to its applicability to the concept of social identity. Basically, intersectionality seeks to study deprivation on various axes of gender, class, race, religion, etc. The aim is to address the inequalities through these axes in order to achieve social justice. The article applies the theory of intersectionality to psychological theories of social identity. It studies the correlates of race and gender identity among black, adolescent males. (Rogers, Scott & Way 2015) A survey of around 183 black, adolescent males ranging from the age of 13 to 16 years was conducted. The survey data was used to study the relationship between racial and gender identity. The impact of these identities on the adjustment of the adolescents was also studied. (Rogers, Scott & Way 2015) 

Intersectionality theory holds that identities are mutable and socially situated. A person may identify herself as a woman, but she is also identified on the lines of race, ethnicity, and religion. Hence, her identity can't involve only gender but also a multitude of other social identities. By not taking into account her race, we are ignoring the complexity of her social world and her many identities and roles. For instance, if she is a black woman, her deprivation is on the twin axes of gender and race. Intersectionality theory postulates that social identities can be considered to be mutually constitutive. Thus, experiences in relation to race are seen through the lens of gender for both, the black man and woman. Critical social psychology and related disciplines posit that identities tend to intersect with each other since no person subscribes to a single, homogenous identity, thus, there is a need to examine his/her social situation with respect of the multitude of identities.

The article employs two theories – social identity theory and developmental theory of identity. While the social approach focuses on the content of identity, the developmental approach focuses on the process of identity formation. (Rogers, Scott & Way 2015) According to social identity theory, identity denotes the value and emotional significance derived from one's membership in a social group (Tajfel 1981). In short, how far does the individual relate to his/her socially assigned identities? 

Intersectionality theory suggests that identities are mutable and situated. Identity categories are not neutral since they are arranged into hierarchies reflecting social status. In that sense, identity categories can be considered as articulations of power that regulate access to resources. 

In the study, wherever there was a balance between gender and race identity, positive outcomes were documented in terms of social adjustment of adolescents. According to the study, the levels of racial centrality, i.e. the importance of racial identity, have increased with time. On the other hand, gender centrality has declined. (Rogers, Scott & Way 2015)

One of the reasons has been attributed to gender identity – the social construction of the correlation between gender and success has spurred the boys to do better. The construction that to be 'male' was to be 'successful' was a predominant understanding among the boys. (Rogers, Scott & Way 2015

Performing Identity

The main premise of performing identity or identity 'performativity' is that individuals are self-aware, socially-aware actors. They conduct themselves to project a 'face' in their interactions with others. This manipulation of their image is, in fact, enactment of an identity that they aspire to attain. Erving Goffman has theorized self-presentation as a performance that can be traced to a deep-seated need for appreciation from one's social circle. An individual, thus, performs multiple identities which might benefit them socially and consequently materially. The article studies social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn wherein it was found that people have used their online profiles for the function of performing an identity. However, social media has emerged as a site of contention between users, employers and platform owners to control their online identities. This struggle plays out at the level of the interface of these websites. Dijck (2013) has offered a comparative interface analysis between Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook is a social networking service that provides mostly personal networks,  whereas LinkedIn specifically caters to professionals. Facebook facilitates personal self-presentation, whereas LinkedIn's interface facilitates self-promotion. However, Dijck observes that both platforms utilize similar concepts of connectivity and narrative. (Dijck 2013)

According to Dijck, there has been a change in the platforms' architecture. They have transformed from databases of personal information to tools for (personal) storytelling and narrative self-presentation. (Dijck 2013) The regular acts of self-expression on the social media changed on a basic level. It changed into more mindful acts of self-staging. Now, an individual's presence and popularity are measured by their online 'avatars' on the social media. (Dijck 2013)

The introduction of the Timeline feature on Facebook was an important change. It takes the form of a narrative biography wherein the user's past activities until now is arranged chronologically like an organized scrapbook. However, the 'Timeline is much more than a glitzy new interface feature' (Dijck 2013), it neatly regulates its user into combining self-expression with self-promotion in a uniform format. As a result, there is an incentive for the user to polish up their profile with slick pictures, photoshopped 'selfies' and a full calendar filled with 'fun' activities. This exercise in recreating one's self-image for public consumption typically results in self-promotion.  Similarly, LinkedIn's interface – although soberer and factually relevant for employers – employs narrative strategies to dictate normative professional behavior.  

On the other hand, users of these platforms too have gained a better understanding of these platforms and learned to exploit the same platforms to their advantage. (Dijck 2013)

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