'I' and 'We' Identities – an Eliasian Perspective on Lesbian and Gay Identities'

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    Lesbian and gay sociology has witnessed a reflexive turn in recent years, which emphasises choice, self-creation and self-determination in the formation of sexual identities. Individuals are involved in, what Giddens (1991) called, a ‘project of self’ or a ‘reflexive biography’, which allows them to engage in a dynamic and constantly evolving process of defining and re-defining their self-identity. Identity becomes fluid, fragmented and plastic. In a recent issue of this journal, Brian Heaphy argued that such accounts of lesbian and gay reflexivity are partial and fail to take account of the ways in which structural factors continue to limit one’s choice narrative and he proposed a move towards a reflexive sociology, rather than a sociology of reflexivity. This article seeks to develop Heaphy’s argument further and suggests that the limitation of theories of reflexivity lies in their inability to adequately account for the continued significance of collectivity, interdependency and human relations in shaping an individual’s identity. Drawing on Norbert Elias’ figurational sociology, it will be argued that against a reflexive model of identity that privileges individualism, choice and creativity over collectivity and material constraints, there is a pressing need to revisit and re-establish our interdependent relationships with one another.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSociological Research Online
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


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