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Taking your first steps into higher education
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2 Social science: individuals and identity

We have already begun to make a start on exploring how social science approaches identity.

In social science, identity has two aspects:

  1. the sense of self you have (‘who I am’)
  2. the way that you are understood by others (‘who she/he is’).
Described image
Figure 3 Cat and mirror

The second of these highlights that social science does not treat individuals in isolation. It is more interested in how they belong to social groups, how these groups shape the identity of an individual, and how that identity is communicated between people. (This is, of course, why it is called ‘social’ science.)

So the next section is a chance to think about how individuals develop their identities through belonging to particular cultures and groups.