The Me I Know: A Study of Adult Identity by Susan Krauss Whitbourne

By Susan Krauss Whitbourne

For the final five years i've been dwelling with ninety four adults. those ninety four adults made up the pattern of individuals in a learn on grownup improvement that Dale Dannefer and that i started in 1980. This booklet represents my efforts to condense the just about 2 hundred hours of tape-recorded fabric from the ninety four adults right into a shape that captures a minimum of many of the range and likewise a few of the commonalities of their solutions to the ques­ tion "Who am I?" My model in their solutions relies on their reflections approximately themselves as kinfolk, staff, and folks with a target in lifestyles. In arriv­ ing on the end that adults try to see themselves as enjoyed, efficient, and stable people, i feel that i've got performed justice to those humans and their solutions to my interview questions. Arriving on the element of having the ability to write down approximately those ninety four people's identities has no longer been a simple technique. numerous makes an attempt at numerically established score structures have been attempted and discarded steadily, until eventually ultimately i made a decision to learn all of the trans­ cripts in series, individual through individual instead of query via query. What i discovered while I approached them as overall members used to be striking to me. i discovered a colourful subject of sure bet and self-assuredness of their identities that flew within the face of my past principles approximately developmental swap in adulthood.

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Sample text

I like to be busy. The "them" who watch television are, by implication, other full-time homemakers. The respondent was at a point of having mixed feelings about how fulfilled she was with her work in the house. Her case is presented in greater detail in Chapter 8 because it illustrates the kind of ambivalence shown by other homemakers in the sample. The excerpt presented here shows how it enhanced her identity to think of herself as someone looking for paid employment. By distancing herself from the "typical" homemaker through projection, she could reinforce this identity as a competent worker even further.

R: ... Well, I think it makes me feel better. It makes me feel, urn, better that I'm more honest with them. I think they feel, you know, the same way. It is to the respondent's advantage to regard his family as feeling "the same way" Forms of Identity Assimilation and Accommodation 31 toward him as he does toward himself. " A rating of identity accommodation is more clearly warranted when the response is more specific, as in the following excerpt from a bakery worker: Q: How does the work that you do right now affect the way you feel about yourself?

These routes toward reducing disequilibrium are examined next. Looking at Alternatives If the individual decides on the basis of a self-evaluation that the change needed to ensure an equilibrium is in the situation and not in his or her identity, then a process may be initiated in which a search for more congruent experiences is made. The following respondent described the course of such a process, begun several years earlier and being implemented at the present time: Q: Do you ever think about leaving this work behind and trying something else or, uh, being involved in some other kind of work?

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