Film Theory: Identity–Definitions of Key Concept in Sociology and Film Studies

In his 1961 book, Asylums, the distinguished sociologist Erving Goffman observed: “Our status is backed by the solid buildings of the world, while our sense of personal identity often resides in the cracks.”

Modernist and post-modernist scholars differ in their approach to the very notion of identity.

Postmodern theory asserts that the subject as a coherent, integrated, discoverable self is a fiction of modernity.

Subjectivity is understood to be organized  through signification and therefore to be externally rather than internally driven.

Ellie Ragland-Sullivan has observed: “The idea of a static and substantive inner reality waiting to be found, or that of a deep structure waiting to be uncovered, is merely an example of a comforting myth of wholeness and ontological resolution.”

These theorists are concerned with the whole notion of a coherent and stable self.