Interpersonal networks and social categories: Specifying levels of context in identity processes

Kay Deaux, Daniela Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Two theories have been central to conceptualizing identity processes. Stryker's identity theory, developed in a sociological tradition, describes a framework in which role-identities arise from within the boundaries of social structures. Tajfel's social identity theory refers to the psychological process of identification and its motivational basis. In this paper, we review assumptions underlying these two theories. We propose a new model that integrates these traditions into a single framework of identity context. The main contribution of this model lies in its specification of two different levels of context, namely the social category and the interpersonal network, which act as independent settings of identity work. We exemplify the model using three studies of identity in which different levels of context uniquely shape subjective definitions of the self, self-evaluations, and interactions with others. The implications of this model for future research are outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-117
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Psychology Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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