Analysing Identity - Cross-Cultural, Societal and Clinical Contexts by Peter Weinreich and Wendy Saunderson




People's identities are addressed and brought into being by interaction with others.

Identity processes encompass biographical experiences, historical eras and cultural norms in which the self's autonomy varies according to the flux of power relationships with others.

Identity Structure Analysis (ISA) draws upon psychological, sociological and social anthropological theory and evidence to formulate a system of concepts that help explain the notion of identity. They can be applied to the practical investigations of identity structure and identity development in a number of clinical, societal and cultural settings. This book includes topics on national and ethnic identification in multicultural contexts and gender identity relating to social context and the urban environment. Clinical applications that describe identity processes associated with psychological distress are also examined. These include anorexia nervosa and vicarious traumatisation of counsellors in the aftermath of atrocity.

Analysing Identity is unique in its development of this integrative conceptualisation of self and identity, and its operationalisation in practice. This innovative book will appeal to academics and professionals in developmental, social, cross-cultural, clinical and educational psychology and psychotherapy. It will also be of interest to those involved with sociology, political science, gender studies, ethnic studies and social policy.

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Book Reviews

This volume provides a coherent and interesting exposition of Identity Structure Analysis, a research procedure developed over the past several decades. To my knowledge, there is no existing publication that explores this procedure in anything like the depth that is presented here.
Peter B. Smith, University of Sussex


This groundbreaking book presents a conceptually sophisticated and empirically grounded method to understand the complexities of cultural identity. The first section begins with a brilliant summary of the pertinent literature written in an accessible style with helpful major definitions and concepts clearly demarcated. It leads to an empirical method that combines both universal and local constructs of identity that can be customized by the individual. It was just simply thrilling and breathtaking how the writer conveyed the reality of identity as multiple aspects of identity as one's self-construal moving in flux/process vs. a single fixed objective entity. The second section on cultural issues further elaborated on the first section. The chapter on understanding the identity of a Palestinian Christian Arab adolescent with Israeli citizenship elegantly demonstrated the value of the empirical method described in the first section; beyond the complexity of the objective categories lay the range of self-construal possibilities from a fragmented, conflicted identity to a more integrated one. The third section deals with social issues and focuses on gender. The final section presents three clinical applications involving psychotherapy, anorexia nervosa and trauma. As someone who has taught psychiatric residents and other mental health professionals in this area for many years, I highly recommend it for clinicians as well as researchers. You will never see identity the same again!
Francis G. Lu, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco


This book presents a conceptually sophisticated and empirically grounded method to understand the complexities of cultural identity. Its subject matter is the application of Identity Structure Analysis (ISA). According to Rom Harré in his introduction the pur-pose of the hook is "to devise a system for describing people that does justice to the ways in which each person is similar to others and to ways in which each person is unique"
Antoine Gailly in MEDISCHE ANTROPOLOGIE 18 (2) 2006, pp 464-6


The book has as its subject matter discussions of applications of the conceptual framework "Identity Structure Analysis", (lSA). The editors of the book, (Peter Weinreich and Wendy Saunderson), both lecture at the University of Ulster. One of the editors, (Peter Weinreich), is the original creator of Identity Structure Analysis. He holds a Personal Chair in Psychology at the University of Ulster. and from this position he has been generous of his time and knowledge, and enthusiastic in introducing many undergraduate and postgraduate students, and colleagues to personal experience of and applied usage of ISA
John Doyle, The Irish Psychologist, October 2004

The book edited by Weinreich and Saunderson carries a more coherent content than most edited books do. In a third of the 387-page volume, Peter Weinreich presents the theoretical foundations of Identity Structure Analysis (ISA) and the methods for studying this structure. The other two thirds of the volume illustrate the relevance of the ISA theory and its operationalization in different settings.
Willem Doise, University of Geneva, in the European Bulletin of Social Psychology

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