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[Xmca-l] identity expressed or formed by action?

I would be interested in any helpful comments (other than suggestions for more books to read) from my xmca psychologist friends on this problem.

In discussion with a friend, who is very au fait with contemporary social philosophy, but knows nothing of CHAT, suggested to me a number of ideas intended to be explanatory (rather than descriptive) of current social and political trends. He talks about the rise of "expressive authenticity" since the 1970s and "collective action as a means to express selfhood." In response, I questioned whether there is any such thing as a drive to *express* one's identity, and that rather, collective action (and there is fundamentally no other kind of action) in pursuit of needs of all kinds (spiritual, social and material) is *formative* of identity.

A classic case for analysis is the well-known observation that nowadays people purchase (clothes, cars, food, ...) as a means of expressing their identity. I question this, because it presumes that there is the innate drive to express one's identity, which I see no evidence for. I think people adopt dress styles in much the same way that people carry flags - to promote a movement they think positive and to gain social acceptance in it. Identity-formation is a *result* not a cause of this.

So, am I wrong? Is identity formation a result or a cause of activity?


Andy Blunden