Film Theory: Identity–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.

Films and Cultural Identity

Film has always been since its inception a transcultural phenomenon, having the capacity to transcend culture– to create modes of fascination which are readily accessible and which engage audiences in ways independent of their national, linguistic and cultural specificities.