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PhD ceremony Ms. L. Jans: Reconciling individuality with social solidarity. Forming social identity from the bottom up

When:Th 03-10-2013 at 16:15

PhD ceremony: Ms. L. Jans, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Reconciling individuality with social solidarity. Forming social identity from the bottom up

Promotor(s): prof. T. Postmes, prof. K.I. van Ouderhoven-van der Zee

Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences

During the last decades, Western societies have become increasingly individualistic. Many people fear that this gain in individual freedom threatens solidarity in society. The individual and the collective are assumed to be in opposition. But is this assumption always correct? Or is it possible to form groups in which individual distinctiveness and group membership can come into agreement?

In the present dissertation, we show that such reconciliation is possible. We propose that individual group members can actively contribute to the formation of shared group identity—a bottom-up (inductive) process that involves each group member as an individual. While being a distinctive individual can be difficult when group identity is formed on the basis of commonalities (a mechanical or deductive process) as might be the case in the army or the police, this dissertation shows that individuality can be reconciled more easily with strong social solidarity when group identity is formed inductively (or organically) out of individuals’ contributions.

In all, the different research lines in this dissertation provide new insights in the interplay between individual distinctiveness and group membership. We believe that this dissertation points to a new direction for thinking about groups and group processes that takes into account both how groups and individuals are cognitively perceived and how they physically interact. We believe that only the mutual consideration of both cognitive and interactive dynamics can do justice to the complex interplay between individual and society that we witness in modern Western society.

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