The term ‘Identity’
can be defined in many ways. The definitions and explanations for this term has
been a subject of research for many literary scholars. The concepts and ideas
related to identity keeps on changing with time. The traditional concept of
identity is examined in terms of the idea tha it is the stability retained by a
person amid the rapid changes or unity in diversity. Sartre defined identity as
the “Totality of a person’s being, having and doing” (Sartre 145). The
sociologist Paula M.L. Moya, in her work Reclaiming
Identity published in 2001 and Ashmore R in the work, Sex, Gender and the Individual share similar views on identity. According to them, identity is the manifestation
of thoughts, emotions and feelings in a person’s attitude, which leads to the
formation of ‘self’. Another famous personality who wrote about identity is Erik
Erikson. According to him, identity is a ‘constant reproduction of
images of self, experienced and put together by an individual’ ( Erikson 56).

Another
famous psychologist Jenkins R, in his work Social
Identity published in 2008 defines identity as something which individuals
‘do’ than something they ‘possess’ as a property. The sociologist Peter J
Burke, in his work A Sociological Approach to Self and Identity published
in 2011, views identity as something which is not inherent or present in one,
but greatly influenced by factors like class, family, work etc. He adds that identity
is not formed in the abstract but created. Theorists and sociologists like
Tajfel, Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Wetherell see identity as part of a social
group or category. The sociologist Burke points out how internal dynamics
within a person influence behavior and thereby identity. Another version of
identity theory is formulated by D.R Heise in his work UnderstandingEvents:
Affects and the Construction of Social Action published in 1949, gives
emphasis on individual as well as cultural influence on the formation of
identities. He also points out that, identity can never be separated from what
happened in the past and what is happening in the present. It is always
changing and evolving. People always keep certain elements of identity, as something
personal and express certain portions outward. Such an assumption about
identity is clearly evident in the work Identity, Culture and the
Postmodern World published in 1996 by the famous critic and writer
Madan Sarup. According to him, there are broadly speaking, two models of
identity. They are the public and private identity. What the others observe and
conclude about us is called our ‘public’ identity and what we feel or
think about ourselves especially, our thought process, ideas, beliefs
etc. is called our ‘private’ identity (Sarup14). These conclusions from
research work bring out the various definitions and factors related to what
constitutes the identity of a person. The above mentioned definitions of
‘Identity’, especially those of Sarup, Burke and Stryker follow the view
that it is not something inherent. On the other hand, according to them
identity is something constructed by people in society and conferred on a
person. However, the definitions of Sartre, Moya and Ashmore define
identity as the reflection of oneself and one’s thoughts. Thus, different
definitions are attributed both in terms of identity being influenced and
constructed by the society outside and identity as the reflection of oneself.