Who Am I? Understanding Identity and the Many Ways We Define Ourselves

Greenwood. Dec. 2021. 275p. ISBN 9781440872044. $63. REF
Selby’s (Therapy and Counseling) introduction to the concept of identity is written at a basic but not popularized level. Four leading theories of identity development are outlined (e.g., Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development; James Marcia’s theory of identity statuses), with emphasis on abstract analysis—though the book ends with case studies of 10 young people rather than solutions or actions (e.g., how to help someone with “diffused diffusion”). Mostly focusing on younger ages (retirement gets just four pages), it explains adoptive, athletic, differently abled, cultural, ethnic/racial, gender, narrative, professional, sexual, and social (including generational) identities. In the era of identity politics, Selby doesn’t give enough space to investigating national and political determinants and polarized identity, though one section defines Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and #MeToo. Social media is presented as mostly positive; the technology chapter ignores the commercially objectified self, narcissism, self-commodification, identity-monetizing influencers, and media construction of identity. An annotated list offers sources of information on identity (there are no footnotes or bibliography). Selby’s writing is specialized and academic in many sections; the book’s glossary helps somewhat.
VERDICT High school and community college students, especially, seeking a grounding on the topic might start here.
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