A social identity is the portion of an individual’s social identity theory tajfel and turner 1979 pdf-concept derived from perceived membership in a relevant social group. As originally formulated by Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s and the 1980s, social identity theory introduced the concept of a social identity as a way in which to explain intergroup behaviour. Social identity theory is described as a theory that predicts certain intergroup behaviours on the basis of perceived group status differences, the perceived legitimacy and stability of those status differences, and the perceived ability to move from one group to another. This contrasts with occasions where the term “social identity theory” is used to refer to general theorizing about human social selves.
Moreover, and although some researchers have treated it as such, social identity theory was never intended to be a general theory of social categorization. It was awareness of the limited scope of social identity theory that led John Turner and colleagues to develop a cousin theory in the form of self-categorization theory, which built on the insights of social identity theory to produce a more general account of self and group processes.
The term social identity approach, or social identity perspective, is suggested for describing the joint contributions of both social identity theory and self-categorization theory. Henri Tajfel suggests that soldiers of opposing armies, fighting outside of view, is an illustrative example of behaviour at the extreme intergroup end of the intergroup-interpersonal continuum.
Social identity theory states that social behavior will vary along a continuum between interpersonal behavior and intergroup behaviour. Completely interpersonal behaviour would be behaviour determined solely by the individual characteristics and interpersonal relationships that exists between only two people. Completely intergroup behaviour would be behaviour determined solely by the social category memberships that apply to more than two people.
The authors of social identity theory state that purely interpersonal or purely intergroup behaviour is unlikely to be found in realistic social situations. Rather, behaviour is expected to be driven by a compromise between the two extremes.