Signs of Identity: The Anatomy of Belonging, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Signs of Identity

The Anatomy of Belonging, 1st Edition

By Martin Ehala


170 pages

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Signs of Identity presents an interdisciplinary introduction to collective identity, using insights from social psychology, anthropology, sociology and the humanities. It takes the basic concept of semiotics – the sign – as its central notion, and specifies in detail in what ways identity can be seen as a sign, how it functions as a sign, and how signs of identity are related to those who have that identity. Recognizing that the sense of belonging is both the source of solidarity and discrimination, the book argues for the importance of emotional attachment to collective identity. The argument is supported by a large number of real-life examples of how collective emotions affect group formation, collective action and inter-group relations. By addressing the current issues of authenticity and the Self, multiculturalism, intersectionality and social justice, the book helps to stimulate discussion of the contested topics of identity in contemporary society.


This is a good book – interesting, readable, well-researched, thorough, and comprehensive. It

attempts to encompass relevant findings from a wide variety of angles and disciplines, and it

progresses systematically and methodically. It presents the bricks and mortar of identity-building

before moving to the most intriguing issues in the contemporary world, those that pertain to the

persistence of national identities (especially in the eastern part of Europe, from where the Estonian

author hails).

Ulf Hedetoft, University of Copenhagen, Journal of multilingual and multicultural development, 2018

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Conceptions of Collective Identity

3. The Nature of Social Phenomena

4. Identity as Sign

5. Identity Signals

6. Identity Meanings

7. Identification

8. Identity Negotiation

9. Hot and Cold Identities

10. Epilogue: What Next?

About the Author

Martin Ehala is Professor and Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics, University of Tartu, Estonia.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General