Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

An introduction to social work
An introduction to social work

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.


There are many important aspects to life that can help shape an identity, including nationality, class, religion, gender identity, sexuality and ethnicity.

A photograph of a person writing in a notebook.

Activity 5 How do you define yourself?

Timing: Allow 20 minutes to complete

Write down a list of words you would use to define yourself, in order of importance. See how many of these draw on your work and your leisure activities (the things that you do) and how many draw on your personal characteristics (the things that you are).

Then ask someone you know well to complete this exercise about you.

Compare your list with theirs.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


How did you find carrying out this exercise? Notice that you have just applied the previous theoretical discussion on the shifting nature of identity to your own life and experiences.

Were factors such as ethnicity, class, gender identity, political beliefs, sexual identity, religious belief (or lack of it) and vegetarianism significant factors in your list, or did you include others?

This exercise should show how complex the notion of identity can be and it should warn you against making assumptions about other people’s identities.