Accessibility & Fit

After reading this week’s articles what really stood out to me was the Hogg article on Social Identity Theory. In this article Hogg talked about the idea of groups and how individuals are placed or fit into their so called groups. In my opinion the most interesting part of this was what Hogg called accessibility and fit, what identities we find most and least important. In other words accessibility and fit is the system of how we rank and use our many identities or groups.

For example: a white, Jewish, lower class, women, may rank the importance of her identities depending on the context. If she is at a Christmas fundraiser with a friend then she may rank her identity as a Jewish woman lower than her other ones, since she is not surrounded by people in her group. In this sense the women is able to hide one of her identities by ranking its importance and focusing on her other identities. This tool is important to look at because I think in a lot of ways it is something many people do in society to pass for survival. It makes sense that if there is an opportunity where one can focus less attention on one identity in order to pass with the majority, than I think it is a very useful tool.

My question though, is how useful is this tool in reality? Because, yes we may think that we have the ability to choose what identity or group to identify with, but whose opinion is more valid ours or others? What I mean by this is even if people choose to identify with one group depending on the context, this still does not stop other people from categorizing and identifying you with the group you are trying to show least attachment to. And from my understanding it seems that the “others” opinion matters much more than your own, therefore maybe this tool is not as useful as we think it is.

This also brings my attention to the fact that race and gender are two identities that are almost impossible to rank importance to. They are almost always visible and no matter what you do others will always categorize you depending on these two. But what does this all mean? Are race and gender the most important and influential social identities, since we cannot really ever escape them? What does this mean for people who are minorities for both gender and race? Can they ever use accessibility and fit?