As identity and authenticity discourses increasingly saturate everyday life, so too have these concepts spread across the humanities and social sciences literatures. Many scholars may be interested in identity and authenticity but lack knowledge of paradigmatic or disciplinary approaches to these concepts. This volume offers readers insight into social constructionist approaches to identity and authenticity. It focuses on the processes of identification and authentication, rather than on subjective experiences of selfhood. There are no attempts to settle what authentic identities are. On the contrary, contributors demonstrate that neither identities nor their authenticity have a single or fixed meaning.
Chapters provide exemplars of contemporary research on identity and authenticity, with significant diversity among them in terms of the identities, cultural milieu, geographic settings, disciplinary traditions, and methodological approaches considered. Contributors introduce readers to a number of established and emerging identity groups from sites around the world, from yogis and punks to fire dancers and social media influencers. Their conceptual work stretches from the micro-analytic to the ethno-national as authors employ a variety of qualitative methods including ethnographic fieldwork, interviewing, and the collection and analysis of naturally-occurring interactions. Several of the chapters look directly at identification and authentication while others focus on the social and cultural backdrops that structure these practices – what unites them is the adoption of social constructionist sensibilities.
This book will appeal to anyone interested in understanding identity and authenticity.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction to the Social Construction of Identity and Authenticity (Kaylan C. Schwarz and J. Patrick Williams)
2. Yoga as a Way of Life: Authenticity through Identity Management (Erin F. Johnston)
3. The Authentic “Healthy Everywoman”?: Readers’ Evaluation of Healthy Living Bloggers’ Identities (Alexandra Rodney)
4. Volunteer Tourism, Dis-identification, and the Construction of “Authentic” Travel Experience (Kaylan C. Schwarz)
5. Jugglers, Performers, Artists, and Beach Boys: Authenticating “Real” Fire Dancers in Thailand’s Tourism Industry (Tiffany Pollack and Bussakorn Binson)
6. “Don’t Call Me White” (or Middle-Class): Constructing an Authentic Identity in Punk Subculture (Philip G. Lewin)
7. Authentic Identity as an Achievement: A View from Discursive Psychology (Sue Widdicombe and Yarong Xie)
8. “Honestly, you just have to be famous!” Parody and the Art of Identity Authentication in Singapore’s Social Media Influencer Culture (J. Patrick Williams and Athena M.G. Khoo)
9. The Japanese Humanoid Robot and the Authenticity of Artificial Identity (Yuji Sone)
10. Biobanking and “Qatarization”: Ethno-national Identity in the Molecular Realm (Ian V. McGonigle)
J. Patrick Williams is Associate Professor of Sociology at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has many research publications related to individuals who self-identify as subcultural and is particularly interested in the social construction of subcultural authenticities. He is an associate editor of the journal Deviant Behavior and has authored or edited several books, including Authenticity in Culture, Self and Society (2009) and Subcultural Theory: Traditions and Concepts (2011).
Kaylan C. Schwarz is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University, Canada. Her doctoral thesis project, conducted at the University of Cambridge, examined the ways international volunteers employed notions of "authenticity" within their personal travel narratives, attempted to differentiate themselves from "other" volunteers, and navigated difficult representational choices when communicating their volunteer experiences to a public audience via social media.