Identity Theory

I am pushing ahead with ideas for my Advanced photography course at the OCA and my chosen genre is Portraits in Series. My main project will be a photographic portrait series of athletes who have competed in all day endurance sports events called Ironman races. This is not a series of photographs of sports people rather and exploration of issues of identity, gender, nationality and race.

I have been thinking about the question of identity a lot. The more I read the more I have found personal resonances with contemporary thinking about the fluid nature of identity. I have recently bought a book on Identity Theory by Peter Burke and Jan Stets. The introduction states its purpose as:

All people derive particular identities from their roles in society, the groups they belong to, and their personal characteristics. Introduced almost thirty years ago, identity theory is a social psychological theory in the field of sociology that attempts to understand identities, their sources in interaction and society, their processes of operation, and their consequences for interaction and society. The theory brings together in a single framework the central roles of both meaning and resources in human interaction and purpose. This book describes identity theory, its origins, the research that supports it, and its future direction.

I hope that reading this book will help me to understand more about the subject and that this will inform and improve my photographic work. A post setting out a first draft of my Artists Statement for the photographic series which I have entitled I am an Ironman  can be read here


Burke, P. and  Stets, J. (2009) Identity Theory Oxford:Oxford University Press

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