Social Identity: What's Race Got to Do With It?

Social Identity:
What’s Race Got To Do With It?
When: Tues., Feb. 17, 2009, 12:25-12:55
Where: Stoddard Hall 308
Who: Dr. Kenneth Foster, Dept. of Psychology and Philosophy
Description of the session. Social identity is a medium through which people perceive how much their
group is similar to or different from other groups. Social identity theory focuses on “those
aspects of an individual’s self-image that derive from the social categories to which [they
perceive themselves] as belonging.” As our world becomes increasingly globalized, it becomes
increasingly evident that social identity is integral to issues such as politics, inequality,
individualism, and subjective well-being. As a social psychologist, I am interested in the role or
impact of social identity dynamics on an individual’s self-esteem, spirituality, political
involvement, and overall health profile. Racial identity is used in my research as a social identity
case in point. On the one hand, racial identity provides a useful context for understanding how
people navigate their social world. On the other hand, many individuals consider racial identity
to be little more than a ‘social label’ with dubious utility. In spite of considerable progress, there
remains a paucity of empirical data on the relationships between racial identity orientations and
the boundless repertoire of human behaviors and attitudes. The implications for work in areas
such as mental health practices, leadership, and the hotly contested paradigms of
multiculturalism and diversity, in particular, are discussed.
Description of the series: Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, this lunchtime (“brown
bag”) series of presentations features ongoing research, scholarship, and creative efforts by
faculty members in the College. The purpose of the series is to further promote those activities
at TWU and to foster collegial and interdisciplinary relations among faculty members across the
College and the University. Although the presentations are by faculty members in the College,
anyone interested in the sessions is welcome. Presentation proposals are reviewed by an
advisory committee consisting of representation from all the major areas of the College. Future
sessions: Feb. 25, Dr. Rohrer on teaching about race; March 3, Dr. Singh on the consumer
purchase decision process; March 11, Dr. Omary on custom-made molecules.
For further information: To contact the presenter:; for information about the