Rediscovering Social Identity: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rediscovering Social Identity

1st Edition

Edited by Tom Postmes, Nyla R. Branscombe

Psychology Press

424 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2010-05-27
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This reader brings together the founding texts of the "Social Identity Approach" - a set of concepts, ideas, and principles contained in Social Identity Theory and Self-Categorization Theory. This approach originated in social psychology and is increasingly part of the standard curriculum in communication and media studies, organizations and management, sociology, education, and politics. Originally published in the 1970s and 1980s by Henri Tajfel and John Turner, in a wide variety of books and journals, many of these articles have become citation classics, and for good reason: they have lost none of their inspirational quality. The depth and scope of their analysis is unrivalled, and there can be no doubt that the themes they address, such as intergroup conflict, diversity, stereotyping and social influence, are as relevant today as they ever were.


"The advantage this book holds over many other textbooks is that it allows the reader to access the original sources and make up their own mind regarding their implications and values. … After reading the text you are left feeling that you have a comprehensive and coherent picture of the SIT approach, and know where to look for further information. … Whether you are an undergraduate student learning about social psychology, a social psychological researcher,a researcher working outside psychology, or you are simply interested in learning more about the work of Tajfel and Turner, this book is an invaluable resource and well worth reading." - Laura Scurlock-Evans, University of Worcester, UK, in Social Psychological Review

"Rediscovering Social Identity collects the ‘classics’ of social identity theory. For those who already are social identity theorists, it is a ‘must’ because it brings together the articles that spawned the field, tied together with an introduction that explains how the different readings fit in. But for all other social scientists, like myself, who are outside of social identity theory, Rediscovering Social Identity is yet more important. It brings together the bases for the social psychology of group formation and people’s behaviour toward groups. The classic readings collected here thus deepen the many fields, like sociology and much of the humanities, where social identity is already a basic concept. They also open up new windows for fields like economics and political science, where the social identity revolution is in its infancy." - George A. Akerlof, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics, University of California, Berkeley, USA

"The deep concerns in this book about the contradictions and difficulties involved in formulating a social psychology are truly revealing. The efforts to formulate and carry out research on social identity as a means of avoiding these difficulties are brilliant and deep. Henri Tajfel has certainly started a line of thought that has alerted all of us. This is a book worth reading carefully." - Jerome Bruner, University Professor, New York University, USA

"Henri Tajfel and John Turner could not have anticipated the phenomenal impact that their elegant theories of social identity and self-categorization would have on social psychology and beyond. These are truly generative theories, galvanizing research on countless applications and extensions pertaining to the definition of self and others. Tom Postmes and Nyla Branscombe have assembled the classics that sculpted the field, along with new historical reviews and previews that provide some much-appreciated order and context to this teeming research. This book is a wonderful testament to some of the most important and innovative thinking in social psychology over the last 40 or so years." - Blake Ashforth, Horace Steele Arizona Heritage Chair, Arizona State University, USA

Table of Contents

Part 1. Introduction. T. Postmes, N.R. Branscombe, Sources of Social Identity. J.C. Turner, K.J. Reynolds, The Story of Social Identity. Part 2. Tajfel's Vision for a Social Psychology. H. Tajfel, Experiments in a Vacuum. H. Tajfel, Individuals and Groups in Social Psychology. Part 3. The Development of Social Identity Theory. H. Tajfel, Social Identity and Intergroup Behaviour. H. Tajfel, Interindividual Behaviour and Intergroup Behaviour. H. Tajfel, Social Categorization, Social Identity and Social Comparison. H. Tajfel, The Achievement of Group Differentiation. H. Tajfel, The Social Psychology of Minorities. H. Tajfel, J.C. Turner, An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict. H. Tajfel, Social Stereotypes and Social Groups. Part 4. Conceptual and Meta-theoretical Foundations of Self-categorization Theory. J.C. Turner, Towards a Cognitive Redefinition of the Social Group. J.C. Turner, P.J. Oakes, The Significance of the Social Identity Concept for Social Psychology with Reference to Individualism, Interactionism and Social Influence. Part 5. Development and Elaboration of Self-categorization Theory. J.C. Turner, Social Categorization and the Self-Concept: A Social Cognitive Theory of Group Behavior. J.C. Turner, The Analysis of Social Influence. J.C. Turner, P.J. Oakes, S.A. Haslam, C. McGarty, Self and Collective: Cognition and Social Context. J.C. Turner, P.J. Oakes, The Socially Structured Mind. J.C. Turner, R.S. Onorato, Social Identity, Personality, and the Self-Concept: A Self-Categorization Perspective. Part 6. Conclusions. S.A. Haslam, N. Ellemers, S.D. Reicher, K.J. Reynolds, M.T. Schmitt, The Social Identity Perspective Today: The Impact of Its Defining Ideas. S.A. Haslam, N. Ellemers, S.D. Reicher, K.J. Reynolds, M.T. Schmitt, The Social Identity Perspective Tomorrow: Opportunities and Avenues for Advance.

About the Editors

Tom Postmes (PhD, Amsterdam) is Professor of Social Psychology at the Universities of Groningen and of Exeter. His research is concerned with communication and group processes such as social influence, social identity formation, collective action, intergroup conflict, perceptions of discrimination and oppression. A large part of this research is concerned with the question of how such group processes operate in online groups and via Computer-Mediated Communication. He was awarded research fellowships by the Economic and Social Research Council, and an earlier fellowship award of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Nyla R. Branscombe (PhD, Purdue) is Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kansas. Her research addresses basic issues of Intergroup Relations from the perspectives of both disadvantaged and privileged groups. An important emphasis in her research has been the role of group history and its implications for emotional reactions to group-relevant outcomes in the present. Her research has benefited from the support of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research—Social Interactions, Identity, and Well-Being Program.

About the Series

Key Readings in Social Psychology

Given the need to be selective and to provide a coherent perspective on each theme within a single book, the editors have generally tackled a difficult brief extremely well. The breadth and depth make a volume suitable for use in many final-year and masters-degree courses in social psychology. It also provides an ideal introduction to top-level original research articles that should motivate students to pursue the current literature in a more targeted way. […] This is an excellent series that will provide an invaluable compendium of the themes that have dominated the 20th Century.” - Diane Houston, University of Kent, in the Times Higher Education Supplement

The aim of the series is to make available to senior undergraduate and graduate students key articles in each area of social psychology in an attractive, user-friendly format.

Many professors want to encourage their students to engage directly with research in their fields, yet this can often be daunting for students coming to detailed study of a topic for the first time.

Moreover, declining library budgets mean that articles are not always readily available, and course packs can be expensive and time-consuming to produce.

Key Readings in Social Psychology aims to address this need by providing comprehensive volumes, each one of which is edited by a senior and active researcher in the field.

Articles are carefully chosen to illustrate the way the field has developed historically as well as current issues and research directions.

Each volume has a similar structure that includes:

  • An overview chapter, as well as introduction to sections and articles;
  • Questions for class discussion;
  • Annotated bibliographies;
  • Full author and subject indices;
  • The article How to Read a Journal Article in Social Psychology, especially prepared for this series by Christian H. Jordan and Mark P. Zanna

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology