Much of the theoretical work that I investigated for this book indicated that a postmodern world was leading to a context of increased freedom and fluidity for individual identities. However, my research indicated that there were many constraints and restrictions on how an individual defines their sense of self. For example, the expectations of families and peers, the influence of role models and popular culture as well as the role of communities and what types of identities are deemed to be ‘acceptable’.
Arguably, with the increasing influence of the internet, social media and online culture, there is an increasing danger of additional pressure on individuals to conform to a narrow set of identities. For example, in my view there seems to be an ever increasing focus on the way that individuals look, resulting in the body being a central part of identity negotiation for gay men and others.
Changing Gay Male Identities is an in-depth study of how individuals negotiate their sense of self and the ‘identity work’ that comes with this. It is an example of how complex identities can be studied, with principles that could apply to gender, race and ethnicity, class and other social stratifications.
For my next project, I am thinking about how I could analyse social media and how it is influencing the identities of individuals. Whilst there may be many opportunities for new freedoms and ways of being, I suspect that there are also many restrictions on how we define ourselves in modern life.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
* Gender and sexual identity
* Race and ethnicity
* International development
* Social change
* Measuring the impact of development programmes.