Sociological and Historical Perspectives on Identities

Provided by: Tilburg
Bachelor's degree (EQF level: 6)

In an ever-changing world, it appears that traditional anchor points are losing relevance. Whereas societies in the past were often stratified according to religious or class lines, several societal processes, including secularization, individualization, and migration, puts the question “Who are we?” ever more to fore. Although it might seem obvious that a response to this question is personal, innate, and even genetic, several responses can be found through a sociological lens. The aim of this course is to provide a sociological understanding of the concept of identity by exploring how identities are socially constructed, and how they are intrinsically intertwined with debates about power and suppression. At the end of this course, you can (1) identify different sociological concepts and theories on identities, (2) explain how class, ethnicity, and gender are socially constructed, (3) understand the differences between essentialist and constructivist understandings of nationhood, (4) illustrate how identity categories are intertwined with power, (5) use concepts in class to critically interpret current debates in society dealing with identity, (6) write a literature review on the topic of identities.

Debates revolving around the topic of identities repeatedly hit the news. To give but one example, the ‘Black Pete’ discussion that is played out at an annual basis brings up questions about Dutch national identity and its colonial past. As another example, there was the debate whether Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” can be translated by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, or should instead by translated by a woman of color. In the political realm, debates evolve about polarization along educational lines, highlighting that different segments in society hold different preferences, and are currently drifting away from each other. Put differently, it appears as if identity is playing a more prominent role than ever in contemporary conflicts.

In this course, you will approach identity and its contemporary relevance from a sociological perspective. To facilitate this, the course is organized in three parts. The first part discusses some general social and social psychological concepts and theories on identities. In the second part, we zoom in on three relevant categories: class, ethnicity, and gender, and discuss their origins and relevance. In the last chunk of this course, we zoom in deeper on national and regional identities.

  • Block 2 2022/23 (from to )

    Course start date 2022-10-24
    Course end date 2022-12-23
    Language English
    Credits 6 (ECTS)
    Grading scheme: Grades will be awarded on a 10 point scale where 6 is the passing grade