How do the social sciences inform a search for self and identity?

Since I began taking this course, I have learned new knowledge that has helped me understand the concepts of self and identity better. This section discusses some of the theories that I have found most important in my search for self. Additionally, the paper shall provide a rationale behind why I found these theories the most important.

One of the theories that I found most important is the social constructivism theory. According to the social constructivism theories, individuals learn through interesting with others. Therefore, a person’s understanding of different phenomena is dependent on the social interactions they have. People learn new knowledge or improve their ancient knowledge from almost all conversations they have. Lev Vygotsky, a Soviet psychologist, developed the social constructivism theory. He emphasized that cognitive abilities could only develop to their full potential through interaction and culture. According to his theory, people have inherent and potential abilities (Pfadenhaueris & Knoblauch, 2019). The potential skills can only be realized when one is guided by others. Hence, individuals can facilitate their learning potential by interacting with more knowledgeable people. Lev believed that learners could not explore their full learning potential without interpersonal instruction because their only source of knowledge would be their individual discoveries.

From this theory, I learned how interacting with others influences our learning process and perceptions about life. I also learned that social interaction increases our knowledge and helps us realize our learning potential. I found this theory vital because it has manifested itself in my life. Looking back, any new knowledge I learned was through social interactions and culture. Everything I know results from interacting with people who are more knowledgeable than me.

Another theory that I found important is the social identity theory. This theory studies how individuals use their identity instead of their social identity and vice versa based on specific circumstances (Hogg, 2020). Allen explains social identity into gender, race, sexuality, ability status, and race (Allen, 2011). In essence, the social identity theories examine the different circumstances that may cause people to think of themselves as group members or individuals. The social identity theory was developed by psychologists Henri Tajfel and John Turner. The two built their theory around three components. Social categorization is the first component, and it explains how people organize themselves into groups based on various factors such as religion, individual preferences, origin, and so on (Trepte & Loy, 2017). The second component is social identity. It explains how people identify as members of a particular group. Social comparison is the third component, and it describes how individuals compare their groups to others. This component is responsible for the “us verse them” mentality. Usually, people want to act in favor of the groups they identify with.

The social identity theory has enabled me to understand why people think of themselves as group members in certain situations. Additionally, it has helped me understand why people prefer to be associated with their groups. This theory has also helped me understand why people strive to maintain favorable positions for their groups instead of out-groups. I chose this theory because it explains how we are inclined to categorize ourselves into groups as humans. It now makes sense how one might be more friendly or affectionate towards people they have share things in common than those with who they do not have anything in common. Reading Allen’s story has developed my critical thinking skills for reflecting on difference matters.


Part 2

This part explains the type of knowledge I have learned from social science. Also, this section examines the strengths and weaknesses of social sciences in explaining knowledge about self and identity. Ultimately, I shall state the questions that were left unanswered for me and highlight what I hope to learn.

Much of the knowledge I have learned from the social sciences is theoretical. I have learned various theories throughout this course that have enhanced my understanding of self, identity, societies, and cultures. Also, some of the knowledge I have learned from social sciences is scientific as it was obtained through experimentation. For instance, Henri Tajfel and John Turner carried out numerous experiments while developing their social identity theory.

One strength that social sciences provide regarding knowledge of self and identity is that they consider the role culture and society play in shaping the identities of individuals. For instance, the social identity theory explains the various cultural and social factors that make individuals identify as members of certain groups. Social sciences knowledge on self and identity also has its weaknesses. One weakness is that social sciences focus on unknown factors while ignoring inherent factors that affect the perceptions of self and identity. For example, Lev’s theory of social constructivism states that knowledge is gained through interaction. Additionally, it points out that learners with more social interaction are more likely to excel in learning. Through his theory, Lev ignores factors such as genetics, making some learners grasp knowledge more quickly than others.

Questions that were left unanswered include: What influences intuition? Are vices such as jealousy and hatred also obtained through socialization? Or are they inherent? I hope to learn the things that influence virtues and vices. I would also like to learn how intuition works.



Allen, B. J. (2011). Difference matters: Communicating social identity. Waveland Press.

Hogg, M. A. (2020). Social identity theory (pp. 112-138). Stanford University Press.

Pfadenhaueris, M., & Knoblauch, H. (2019). Social constructivism as paradigm?.

Trepte, S., & Loy, L. S. (2017). Social identity theory and self‐categorization theory. The International Encyclopedia of Media Effects, 1-13.

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