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An Exploration with the Urban Indian Youth
Aditi Ahlawat MA (final) Psychology
In the partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at the Department of Psychology, University of Delhi.
This is to certify that the project “What Is My Identity?- An Exploration with the Urban Indian Yout h” i s a faithf ul record of the bonafei d carried out by Aditi Ahlawat under the gui dance of Prof. GM. All the dat a presen ted in thi s stu dy is an authentic fir st hand m aterial gathered b y the investi gator during the course of her project work. No part(s) of t his project has been published or subm itted in part or full for any other diploma or degree in this or any other uni versity.
Prof. Girishwar Mi sra Supervisor
Aditi Ahlawat Investigator
Prof. Ashum Gupta H.O.D Dept. of Psychology
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I want to thank my teachers and friends who helped me think about life and the world around me in a more responsible and organized manner than I did before. This dissertation stands short in so many ways, but to complete it would’ve been impossible without the support and guidance of my teacher Prof. Girishwar Misra whose critical evaluations made me connect the details of my work to the larger reality and question it in different perspectives. To Dr. Honey Oberoi whose classes made me sensitized to issues in my life that had gone unnoticed long enough. To Bhumika and Shifa (names changed) who are the closest to my heart in this journey, who made me look deeper within and saw me through all my doubts and were bold enough to talk about their thoughts to me in the best of their abilities. To my uncle Ashok Gopala who reinforced the values of honesty and sincerity in me, saw me in difficult moments and has been there for me in my hardest times. To my parents who gave me the opportunity to be the individual I am and for helping me in striving ahead in spite of disappointments and my shortcomings. This dissertation is much more than what it is even in its most primitive form, thank you for assessing and evaluating me on its basis.
- 5 .The Conversations 27-51 Chapter 4.Interview Guide 81 .Discussion – Exploration and Resilience References 52-71 72-79 Appendix A.AIQ-IV 80 Appendix B.Results.Organizing the Quest 11-26 Chapter 3.CONTENTS Chapters Page No.What is My Identity? 2-10 Chapter 2 –Method. Abstract 1 Chapter 1 – Introduction.
the implicatio n of her work and her limitation s. . She present s the need to explore identity amongst the youth and the m any aspect s of identit y that emerge wi th resp ect to the Indian context.Abstra ct In this study. the researcher explores t he sense of identity amidst the Indian urban youth. The study concl udes showing the impact of exploring common them es t hat emerged t hrough analysis of the engagement wit h the t wo wom en in interviews an d how it affected the resear cher’s explorat ions. With the use of qualit ative intervi ewing met hod she demonstrates the relev ance of thi s expl oration by pr esenting exampl es from the int erviews with t wo y oung wom en at the Delhi Uni versit y.- 6 .
multi-ethni c textur e of soci eties. schol ars working in a remarkable array of soci al science and humaniti es disciplin es have t aken an i ntense i nterest i n the qu estions about identi ty (Fearon. increasing degree of ecologi cal i mbalances etc. 2003). A number of questions l oom large before us: What is the exact nature of what we term Identity? I s it a force meant to support the movem ent of the self ? Is it a self-im age or the one that i s assigned by oth ers? I s it a combinat ion of different perspectives? To what extent does change affect our Identity? How does internal conflict about Identity or “Id entity crisi s” r esolve in peopl e? This chapter explores some fundam ental perspectives and theori es of Identity. the role of Identity formation and exploration in Youth and states th e important aspect s of Ident ity with resp ect to the Indian context relevant to the present study. what ar e the differ ent .Chapter 1 Introduction What is my Identity? The them e of Identity has al ways been a concern for challenging questi oning. Nonetheless. Contemporary issues such as glo balization.- 7 . ar e influ encing and changing t he way i dentiti es are being defined (Woodward. 1999). Since time i mmemorial i ssues on what Id entity i s. In the recent year s. identity to an individual has always been an exi stenti al dilemma and expl oring one’ s true nat ure has led to diver se per spectives of positioning and vi ewing it. impressive technological development.
Furthermore.aspect s related to Identit y have al ways held a deb ate in academi c discourses (Wood ward.. the divergent worldvi ews of peop le have f urther com plicat ed what people (and youth in particul ar) claim as identit y.” Various perspectives on identit y like the social identity theory by Tajfel and Turner (1986) or Erickson’ s concept of Identity Cri sis (1968). it is appar ent that an im portant role Ident ity plays in the construction and developm ent of the individu al.cultural realm s. 1996). much int erest has been shown in under standi ng the soci o-cultural dynami cs of contem porary India ranging from r eligion and caste-based i ssues to issues of urbanizat ion. 200 4). 2005. 2000.g. Research indicates the critical task of adolescence and young adulthood is the formati on of Identit y (Erikson. (e. S en. 2005. Identity has also been loo ked at as a medium of exchange between intrap sychic and external socio.Contemporary India Oxford Indian Paperbacks. Fearon. 2005. Das. From the works of Erik Erikson (1968). Ball et & Rajda. 1997. Panandikar. Waterman (as cit ed by Bergh & Erling.- 8 . technol ogical and ecological changes and t he impact of polit ical movements etc. Brubaker & Cooper. Tripat hi. edu cation. Kakar. Kroger.a clear sen se of person al identit y constit utes an aspect of optimal psychological functioning. 2000/1996. 1999). Santrock. Ghosh. 2003. In the soci ological and soci al psychology discour ses. 2005) states that “. 1959/1968.. 2005. 2005. P eter Bl os (1962) and many more. It becomes important t o note th at the manner in which differ ent Identiti es .1999. Varma.
Why Explore It? There are many different and divergen t perspectives on identity and identity formatio n. Jones & McEwen. Erikson (1959) defined identity as "a persist ent sameness within oneself (self-sameness) and a persi stent sharing of some ki nd of essential charact er with other s" (p.1980) and identity explored in variou s social. Identit y Morat orium by Marci a in 1994 . Marcia (1994) develop ed the Id entity statu s paradigm in an effort to oper ationall y defin e . 2004. Researchers use the term “Identity” in different ways and context s (like the Social Ident ity Theory by Tajfel & Turner in 1986. so i t becomes essential to explor e indi vidual stories and case hist ories t o under stand th e full impact of this bi-directional relationship. Kroger. cultur al. Feminist Identities and role of sexuality (Person. social and hi storical cont ext (Bansal. Many One of the most comprehensive and celebrat ed notio n of identity owes to the work of psycholog ist Erik Erikson in the 1950s. throw light u pon certain aspect s of the individual that get shap ed up in t he process. 109). Identity Crisi s by Erickson. Stryker & Burke. E ach perspecti ve and di scour se offers an aspect that in it self adds to the under standi ng of the dominant i ssues that individual s “identify” and have struggl ed with in their life course or in that mom ent. 2000).are under stood. 2000. Identity on its own has always been sited as a paradox because it impli es a sen se of st ability amidst changi ng person al. political and per son al persp ectives (Jenkins.- 9 . 2000. 2005). 1968.
Sen. the Hindu Muslim conflict in t he pr esent d ay India causes heigh tened awareness of rel igious identiti es because of the tight integration of the two cultural groups in the country (Sen. to more complex daily life activiti es that are aff ected by confli ct s that are intrap sychi c in nature. Tajfel (1978) proposed that Identity i s one of the key players in the everyday social functionin g of the people. 2005.- 10 . Tripathi. the notio n of identity emerg es in the course of transaction s i n the so cial environm ent. The status of Muslim and Hind u identiti es are al so evolving beyond the si mple di scord and discontent both group s showed on sensit ive issues (Misra. Bohra (1979) not ed that high cast e grou ps defined in-group in t erms of cast e membershi p more frequently t han those from low statu s cast e . Mi sra. 2005). 2004. Researches in the Indian context have shown (Reddy. gender and cast e are significant factor s contributing to format ion of diff erent Identities. Bansal 20 05. 2005. Akbar. Religiou s and Caste Based Identities According to som e th eorist s. di scrimin ation and conflict s within th e Indian contex t (Sinha.and empirically investigate Erickson’s construct of Identity. 1985). 2001. Paranjpe. Social identity theories helped expl ain prejudice. For ex ample. The relationship of identity with soci ety is said to be bi- direction al as i dentity formation takes pl ace i n the co ntext of others. 2006. In a pluralisti c cultural slitting identity i s con structed in the cont ext of other s with overlapping boundaries. 1985) us how religion. This makes identity more fluid. 1988).
t o uphold a pr e-exi sting identit y i s also mai ntained by existi ng Individu als m ore than collecti ve group (although these groups do influence thi s thinki ng). 1994. The ways in which all t his im pact s today’ s world has becom e different and ch anged influenced by the shift s in the soci ety in the past few year s. connectivity and interdependence. 1988. 1995) There have been several modes and p erspectives to look at the formation and confusion the notion of Identity bring s with it.groups. The manif estations of such changes are at a more individ ual l evel as comp ared to the collective. The “Constitutio nal privileges” accord ed to the schedul ed castes have resulted i n hardening of attitudes on the part of high cast e through assert ion of rights on t he constructed socio.- 11 . 1986) however. In urban Indi a it i s seldom difficult to decipher the boundaries b etween grou ps and collecti ves. Varma. has been a chased dream for . The ways in which cast e system has manifested itself into the soci al milieu of m odern Indi a is beyond t he basic fourfold di visi on of the Hindu so ciety it initi ally st arted from. The empirical studies of the self amidst a society that i s strat ified by categori es of gender. (Misr a 2001. Sinha & Tripathi. 2005) raises certai n important questions. The need for a utopian and univ ersal integrated Identity however. The st udy of identity i n th e Indi an society.economi c hier archy. Mi sra & Gi ri. has indicated great er degr ee of relatedness. caste. class and rel igion (Oemmen. Therefore. Rol and. which is consi dered as collecti vist wit h elements of individuali sm (Paranjpe. 1998.
(Blos.many. becomes the dominant identity it self. they are a group that are experiencing (and initi ating) dram atic changes (Lar son. 1968) and “the confusion and crisi s within its Id entity”. Youth represent s a phase in life charact erized by psychol ogical chang e implying a stage of const ant negotiation (Erickson. Identity of the Indian Urban Youth Identity is an interpl ay of individual. In modern societi es. ideologi es and lifestyl es. adolescence and youth do not constit ute a “rational transitional period”. Verm a & Dworkin. 2003). psychological. lifestyles. 1974) Psycho anal ytic therapeuti c work has also shown t he ex periment ation i n youth wit h id eas. thereby maki ng it difficult to find a suitabl e role and ideas int o a meaningful and unified sense of self -definition (Keniston. 2005). Modern youth stands in a discontinuity from the past and the fut ure. . soci al and hist orical context s and it is p aradoxi cal in thi s sense because when a per son i s asked “Who are you?” th e answer t ends to be different dependi ng up on the situati on and context (Bansal. The notion of “What is my Identity?” get s m ore complex and hidden as one takes a closer look at youth. The urban soci ety also offers its youth t he op portunities to cho ose from a wi de variety of occu pations. 1962) Thus to arrive at a sense of Identity is a strong and important co ncern in the life of the youth. val ues and shifts in t heir world vi ews and perspectives.- 12 .
women ar e expected to be t he nurturers an d men the earn ers. Previou s researches (Chaudhari. 1980). The “gendering of identity” as an i ssue doesn’t em erge often in the mainstream academic di scour ses unless focused on by feminist perspectives (Per son. r eligion or cultur e do not address the feminine elem ent which shapes and exi sts side by side in t he individual. The woman’s autonomous indi viduat ed ident ity is not encouraged to emerge with gender and sexuality b eing relegated to the sideli nes (Rajwade.- 13 . only important within the assimilati ng identity allowed institutio nalized structure of marriage (for the girl). . dict ating socialisation and expectations. Chaudhari (2004) st ated that men are stil l not soci alised by their par ent s to be nurturing and women are not socialised to be handy around the house. 2004) have posited that.birth and marriage.The Feminine Identity among the Youth Current iden tity per spect ives on society. Traditional expectati ons of m arital life have been transformed int o cultural norms. in the Indian context to b e a girl/ boy or to have a gendered identity onl y emerges as an issue at two major event s . 2005). experiences The of b odily identity and ensuing are sexuality.
The “I” being expl ored in this research becomes the “youth” in general and the st ory of two young wom en to bri ng the dialogue of in particul ar. capitali sm and the man y -ism of moderni ty and tradition. Verm a & Dworkin. (Larson. al so being sensiti ve to the co ncerns of resear ch dem ands of explorin g the g endered aspect of identi ty (Kishore & Mi sra. There has been a specific tran sition i n the urban Indian youth today. 2005). The issues begin from the infl uence of cont emporar y chang es to wards emergence of culturally sensi tive and gendered aspects of Identi ty and their influence on the Youth of Today. struggling like the rest and even more so in defining “What i s my Identity?” There ar e . what t heory has any grounding if there is no reali ty to sub stant iate it. egalit ariani sm. The previous chapter threw light upon the various relevant perspectives and issues ident ity brings up. But above all.- 14 . There are i ssues that need to be addressed. persp ectives that n eed to be explored. a look into issues and concerns relat ed to Identity with respect to being a “f emi nine identi ty” were al so delved into. 2003) Within them are young men and women. a kind of youth challenging boundaries and exist ing amidst multiple and confli cting movem ent s like individuali sm. With the hel p of these partici pant s.The Present Study The journey of underst anding “What i s my Identity?” i s a difficult an d adventurous one. This study att empts to illustrat e how these tim es have mould ed contempor ary Indian youth identities.
religious and gendered sensi tivities). • To explore the ways in whi ch aspect s of Identity manifest in th e lives of urban Indian youth.intense implication s of Identity expl orati on with them. • To highlight Identit y conflict s and crises and throw light upo n special i nst ances that emerged from such an explor ation ( such as cast e based issues. There is a need to remove the many layers of confusion wit hin to bring out the crisis in the open and all ow it to resolve. With this in view the present st udy aimed at the following obj ectiv es. . • To explore the sense(s) of “What is my I dentity?” • To explore identit y of youth wit h respect to different aspect s of identity.- 15 .
he/sh e may even have to change the cour se of stu dy because of such i ssu es and adopt mor e relev ant an d useful m ethods to go about addressing t he problem at hand. stru ctur ed. “It has becom e a long. process.standing tradition within the mai nstream field of psych ology to accept the quantitati ve orientation as the "gol d standard"(Valsi ner 2000a) of sci ence.Albert Einstein Every research adopt s a series of st eps to pro ceed syst emati cally int o exploring the questions it posit s. and fluid real ities of the psych ological pro cesses (Val siner. a r esearch er may meet different ob stacles and deterrent s. Inst ead.- 16 .Chapter 2 Method Organizing the Quest “Everything that can be counted. there ar e many methods and tools availabl e out of which a resear cher can choose whi ch best fit s and facilit ates his/her topi c and nature of enquiry. does not necessaril y count. Quantificat ion's em ergence as the pref erred way t o collect. all dat a—qualitat ive and quantitative ali ke—ar e sign s that repr esent complex. In such an instan ce. In hi s/her journey. and analyze data i s an artificial . There is no automati c preference t o be given either to qu antitati ve or qualit at ive method s in a wider cycle of methodology. Everything that count s cannot necessarily be counted. 2000b).” .
Contemporary p sychology at large has lost it s abilit y to access complex.374) reminds u s of an i mportan t sent ence by Goethe.- 17 . “Any gaze is filtered throu gh the lens of language. 2001) stat ed t hat . all knowl edge is an attempt at under standi ng the self." Denzin & Lincol n in 1994 (as cit ed by Reason & Heron. This is the reason I preferred qualit ati ve method in researching over quantitati ve. not becau se one is “superior or better” but becau se it facilitat ed the underst anding and expl oration my enquiry deserved. social. which along the cour se of life is only gradually unr avel ed and . race and et hnicity. Medi ated and rout ed through the exp eriencing self. guaranteeing its un even progression si nce the beginning of the 20th century ( Val siner. gender.result of the social hi story of our discip li nes (Hornstein. 1988). Sander (1962. "Measurem ent and numbers in their nak edness dissolve an d ban the living spirit of obser vation. It is a major limit ation for cont emporary psychological science. the unknown and beyond…yet life t eaches. 1973) and to various interpretive par adigm s of inquiry that have provided academi c discourses with valu able kn owled ge syst ems t hat ar e sensitive to subjectivities and experient ial account s bringing real life closer to the research “about it”. 1998).” This has led to attempt s of researchers to repr esent th e experience of their subjects an d su ch a process led to call s for a “thick descri ption” of particul ar event s (Geertz. holisti c phenom ena due to its unconditi onal quantifi cation of research method s. p. t he world. there remains an inherent unknowability in th e self.
- 18 . apprehen sive and hopeful of the unforeseen respon sibiliti es as well as pl ayful chall enges the research (qu alitativ e) offers. Right from the moments of its inception to the latter stag es of interpr etation. Both terrified and exhilarat ed. Influenced by and believin g in such a tradition and approach to research the proced ures and process of research was followed in different phases. Research too is one su ch process. These phases on paper are concr ete steps and guidelines that wer e used to facilitat e and co-create the experience of resear ching with the parti cipant s involved. 2003).unfolded that too in parts and never co mpletely. such a research has a potential t o take us int o intimate forays and inner lives of individual s living out the many vici ssit udes of their exist ence. the Self and Other can never be fully “known”. part of the creation of the m ethodol ogy i n retrospect has been the determined by the course the research t ook owin g to the act ive involvement and inferences participants drew in i ts process. we are forever trying to arrive at a greater completion of the self by reachi ng inclu ding or si mply touching the “other within” as well as th e “other outsid e”. Therefore. They are all sight ed as following: . the research process remai ns cl osely relat ed as much of the life of the researched as to the life of the researcher. Contributi ons from the participants alongside the have been highlighted in the many phases. some of us begin our sojo urn by engaging with its human dimensi ons (Vahali. In effect. Despi te this.
different young peopl e.Phase I The proposal for intervi ews on id entity were put up on the noti ce boards of different colleg es. Questions like “What is my id entity?” was asked and explored to see who out of the 10 young m en and wom en were m ore int erest ed in exploring such i ssues on a greater det ail. This attr acted a few young people t o open a dialogue on identity t hrough an initial telephonic and t hen direct conversations that slowly took a shap e of in-depth ext ended conver sations (in-depth interviews). The participant s all were students of the Delhi Univer sity bet ween the age of 18-22.- 19 . Through t his pro cedur e. all most ly part of the Delhi Univer sity were informed and m ade aware of the topic of discu ssion and a li ttle excerpt o n what th e backgroun d of the resear cher and her thought s on i dentity were. Phase II Initial Participants At the beginning of the research. They were given the Aspects of Identity IV (AIQ-IV) questi onnaire ( Appendix A) and asked to rate their responses on the . acquaintances in di fferent coll ege and department s were welcomed for a “one-to-one talk over coffee” at the cant een abo ut the research t opic I was exploring in m y Masters. 7 out of the 10 were women p ursuing different Bachelor s an d Masters courses. a broad question of “Wh at it mean s to have an identity?” was explored wit h 10 young people.
IV Questionnaire Identity orient ations refer to t he rel ative i mportance that individuals pl ace on variou s identity attribut es or ch aract eristics when constructing their self-definiti ons ( Cheek. The developmen t of the Aspects of Identity Quest ionnair e beg an wit h the sel ection of item s from Samp son's (1978) list of i dentity char acteri stics th at were judged to represent the domain s of per sonal and social identity (Cheek & Briggs. Subseq uently. The questi onnaire u sed was d eveloped by Dr. all aski ng the parti cipant to rat e them on a scale of 1-5 on how those statement s were important t o their “sense of self”. 1982). Rating the stat ement s in the questionnaire was met with a resist ance by many parti cipants.” The summary of their responses are sited in the Appendix B and highlighted with issues they faced. and new . some item s were reworded. 1 being the l east important and 5 being the most im portant. Jonathan Cheek at Well esl ey Colleg e. Massachusetts. these st atement.they stated were equally important to them on some l evel or the other and some could not be comp ared t o each other so r ating them was “poin tless”. The questionnaire contained 45 item s. The AIQ.- 20 .statem ent s/item s on it. USA call ed the Aspect s of IdentityIV Quest ionnair e that was admini stered on 10 individual s. 1981. others el iminat ed. They also reported that their Identity “d idn’t fit t o limited choices provi ded on a piece of pap er. 1989).
Other than thi s. Underwood. Phase III Final Participants.- 21 . 1981).items were develop ed to improve the reli ability and content validity of the measures (Cheek.Conversational Part ners in the Research Out of the 10 p articip ants. 1982 /83. This also gave an o pportunit y to delve d eeper into aspects of identity an d orient ations that were i nitiall y rated on the AIQ q uestionnaire as well. & Tropp. & Underwoo d. 1985) and has now been expanded (Cheek. A third scale for this domain was devel oped (Ch eek. & Cutler. so a fourth scal e for relational identity orient ation (“Being a good friend to those I really care about ”) was add ed t o the AI Q-IV (Cheek.. "Being a part of the many generations of my family") were tending t o cluster on a third factor representin g comm unal or coll ective identity.g. 2 parti cipant s agreed for detail ed int erviews t o be cond ucted alongsid e the admini stered questionnair e to take up th e questi on of “What i s my Identity ?” further. Cheek & Hogan. Neither the social nor collect ive scal es focus on intimate relation ship s with close friend s or romantic partner s. Psychometri c analyses indicat ed th at certain it ems originall y scor ed in t he soci al identity category (e. 1994). Tropp. 2002). Chen. The descript ion of the particip ant s is as follows: . Smith. ther e were n ew aspect s and th emes that em erged from the open-ended and deeper descri ptions of what their and my identity were all about.
- 22 . addressing i ssu es of feminism. to allow t he i deas and suggestions of the conversation partner s coul d be explored. Shifa was a 24 years old post-gradu ate st udent of Psychology. worki ng at Ramjas College as a Students’ Coun sell or. studying at the Indrapr ast ha Coll ege for Women. Stat ement s from the Aspects of Identity IV questionnaire were borrowed to el aborat e on different aspect s of identity that could be explored through the int erview medium. This yielded deeper and meani ngful information with respect to the topic of study. 2005) A semi-stru ctured appro ach was used. She has been an active participant of her college’ s Dr amatics So ciety and participated i n many plays evokin g awaren ess to ward differ ent pol itical and social i ssues through the mediu m of theatre. She is also studying at the Centre for Psycho analyti c Studies in t he Delhi Univ ersity. caste and environmental and ecological concerns.Bhumika was a 19 years old undergr aduate student in Psychology. Phase IV An interview guide (Appendi x B) was prepared to organize th e process based on Respon sive Int erviewing model. She has keen inter est s in exploring her self. She has been an activi st and aware partici pant in p olit ical and soci al i ssues wit h k een interest to culturall y sensitizing academic discourses and those around her with her presence. After the initi al rappor t formation and acqu ainting with . (Rubin & Rubin.
. Interviewer s sh ould not impose their views on int erviewees. experiences. Interviewing i s an exchange.some casual conver sation about life. not a one way street. hobbies. he or she must be aware of hi s or her own opinions. int erest. even if temporary. certain questions were used to give a structure to the conversations. style. The personality. cultural definitions and even prejudi ces. Because the interviewer contributes act ively to the conver sation. 2. Interviewing is about obt aining intervi ewees interpret ation s of their experiences and their underst anding of t he world in which they live and work. the relati onship between interviewer and int erviewee is meaningful.- 23 . listen t o what i nterviewees tell them and modify their questi ons to explor e what t hey are hearing . 4. They should ask bro ad enough questions to avoid limiting what intervi ewees can answer . 3.The int erviewer incur s serious ethi cal oblig ations to protect the interviewee. Because responsive int erviews depend on a personal r elation shi p between int erviewer and intervi ewee and becau se that rel ation ship may result in th e exchange of private inform at ion or information dangerous to the interviewee . and belief s of the int erviewer matter. Characteristi cs of Respon sive Int ervi ewing Model 1. not what they thought befor e they began the intervi ew .
Respon sive intervi ewing design is adapt ive and flexible. It was liberating t o explor e different dom ains and dev elop questions that were co-cr eated i n conv ersati ons with th e participants. Becau se the interviewer must list en intentl y and follow up insight s and new point s during the intervi ew.- 24 . the int erviewer must be able to change cour se based on what he or she learns. a further exploratio n was done by asking the q uestion “Why important or not important?” and “Why relevant or not relevant?” More specific and detailed information was derived i n order to explore id entity processes and what in dividuals identify with amon gst the dim ensions charted out. In thi s manner r esearch becam e very i nteresting and active and the i nterviews very close to life-experiences owing to the qualitative tradition because it allowed m e to st art with a set of qu esti ons but did not force me to stay with them t hroughout our research work. So. Additional qu estio ns relevant t o the info rmation obt ained were asked t o facilitat e the int erviews. I st arted with th e aim of discov ering “what is my identity” that I posited in front of young . Intervi ewer s may need to change whom th ey plan to tal k to or wher e they plan to conduct an int erview as t hey find out more about their research questions.5. However. It remained a ref erence point for construct ing question s for interviewi ng. The AIQ-IV qu esti onnaire had its relevance in pointing out the d ifferent aspect s of Identity and identity orientations people could have. just rating the st atements on the questionnaire didn’t yiel d relevant informati on to explore issu es r elated to Identity.
the process of meaning making i s arrived.men and women onl y to find myself in a dialect experi ence with 2 other young women exploring cri ses and confli cts in life and in their “identity”. and on the . Subjectivity and Being Objective Brockman in 1977 states (as cited by Reason & Heron. and th e wor d ‘subjective’ whi ch normally confines you within your skin. o n the one hand by an emphat ic immersion into th e subjective experi ence of the participant. neither pure solip sism nor it s oppo site… Somewhere between these two is a region where yo u are party blown by the winds of reality and partl y an artist creating a composite out of inner and out er events.” This en tire proj ect is a pro cess that is faci litated by a reflexive turn in the resear cher.an ability to l ook i nwardly ( as well) and make u se of on e’s subjectivity. The measure used for thi s research was i n-depth qualitative intervi ewing. of cour se. quit e quietly obsolete. For as in any other form of interaction. 2006) “The word ‘objectiv e’ becomes. in research too. disappears as well…the world is no longer ‘out ther e’ in quite the way it used to be…There i s a combining or marriage between an objectivity that i s passive to the out side world an d a creative subjecti vity.- 25 . where int erview is seen as an all iance between researcher and research participants and apart from the themes that the researcher is looki ng for new id eas are allowed to emerge throu gh the pro cess of conversation and sharing of exp eriences.
Thi s inv olved identifyi ng the type and dir ection of the narratives. Reflexive not es from the resear chers alo ngside the int erview transcript s were hel pful in rel ating and making sen se of the direction and co. . Phase VI Interpretation and Evaluation This phase con si sted of interpret ation of individual script s and reflexive notes. meani ngs are frequ ently embedded i n the intermediary space wh ere the t wo su bjecti vities. (Vahali.other by a di scipli ned exploration of what he/ she provokes in the resear cher’s su bject ivity. 2003) Phase V Transcription s and Reflexive Notes In this phase after the collection of data over four to five meeting s and a follow-up (ongoing) wi th the research participant s the int erview mat erial was transcribed. Thu s. Transcripti ons ar e useful because they offer a more accurat e record of the interview than memory alone.- 26 .th at of the researcher and resear ched meet. The reviewing and re-reading of these tran script s were useful in providing accur ate account s and information as delivered by the conversational partner s. The information sh ared in these conver sations thus becam e as shared realit y for both the participants and the research er.creation of the ex perien ces felt by the partici pant s and that of the r esearch er.
Feminist s for examp le. Representati onal deci sion s cannot be avoid ed. to merely represent (As opposed to interpret) the world. Narrative Anal ysi s and Grounded Theory Analysis was used in evaluatin g and expl aining these th emes on the basi s of availabl e literat ure and to give shape new ideas and further explor ati ons for the future. Narrative anal ysi s shar es t he g oal but although it cannot gi ve voice. Narratives help u s in doing so. issues and asp ect s that came up in the conver sations were given a cl oser look to arrive at certain core and prominent themes. th ey enter at numerous po ints in the research process an d qualitat ive analy sts including feminist s much confront them.The contradicti ons. i t helps us hear voices th at we record and interpr et. Representation of Experi ence As researchers we do not have direct access to another’s experien ce. Narrativ e Analysis (Rei ssman. and interpr etation. int eracti on. We deal with ambiguous represent ations of it.talk. text. . Qual itative researchers often seek to depict other s’ experiences but act as if representation i s not a problem. 1993) It is perhaps the sign of our times that i nvesti gator s are questioning how to represent life in scientifi c work.- 27 . emphasize giving voice to previ ousl y silenced groups of women by describi ng the diversity of their experiences. It i s not possibl e to be neutral and objective.
Attending to the Experi ence The researcher att ends and makes discret e certain features in the stream of con sciousness- reflecti ng, remembering, recollecting them into observations. She scans and isol ates cert ain images, which are known in a given experi ence b y cert ain words. Ther e i s choice in what she n otices, a select ion from t he t otality of the unreflected on, the primary experience. She actively re-const ructs the experien ce through thi s first level of representat ion, to herself by thinking. Telling about Experi ence Next comes t he telling, the performance of a person al narrativ e. There is a subsequ ent sh aring of the story. The resear cher re-present s the event s, already ordered and alt ered to som e degree, to ot hers i n a conver sation, with all th e opportunities and constr aints a form of discour se entail s. Although the story may have content on it s own by the one who wrot e it, the researcher r elates to it as one insi de the experience, enactin g it in a discussion. The account s felt in the story take form of a narrative ab out what was experienced: She descri bes what she felt while reading t he story, what parts evoked a certain em otion in her, what she rel ated to, what were important things she noti ced and m aybe al so tellin g by NOT telling what sh e left out. This rendering draws on the resour ces of the researcher’s cont ext, the moment may even urge her to say more about particul ar aspect s of story, its discussion m ay refashion the event s in response to their cues, and t o make the importance of a scenari o real for everyone, expand on what the moment m eans in the larg er context of her life and the life of the stor y
discussed. By t alking and li steni ng, the group produ ces a narrative together. In the t elling, t here i s an i nevit able gap between the experi ence as she lives and any communication about it. Caught in th e “prison house of languag e” in the words of Ni etzsche ther e is no way to break thro ugh to the ideas to whi ch her word s refer because language is “uncom municative of anything other than i tself”. Yet without words, the sound s, movem ent s, and images conj ured, the exp erience ceases to exi st. Language m akes them real. Mean ing also shifts in other ways because it i s construct ed at thi s second level of represent ation in a process of int eraction. The story i s being t old to the r esearcher and she i s t elling it t o other s, it might have t aken a different form if someone el se were the li stener. Tran scribin g Experience Transcribi ng, the third level of interpret ation, is al so in complet e, partial and selective, one can r ecord opi nions and views of peopl e through it, using t ape recorders, written speech whichever desired. Analyzing Experience In order to anal yze the story, resear ch uses a narrative framework that serves as a screen through which the story may be exami ned. This, al so more importantly, becomes a way for a learner to critically r eflect on earlier or current per spectives in order to construct or reconstruct mean ing in one' s life world.
Reading or Re- reading to make sen se of the Experien ce coll ectively The sense of th e narrat ive m ay be organi zed and underst ood accordi ng to the conventions of literary study. In this approach to narrative anal ysi s, the author may tell the story as a tragedy and describe self as a tragic her o or heroine, or as a m yth, with self described as a mythic survivor or victim. In this analyti cal approach t here are only so many stories; an d most narrat ions can be categori zed through the use of cultural traditions, archetypes and myth s. The search for a "universal plot" l eads the analyst to consider the "temporal experiences" - the past, present, and future - of the narratives.
Grounded Theory Analy si s (Glaser & Strauss, 1995) The grounded theory approach r eject s usi ng literatur e to generat e themes and concept s or r elation ship s between them. Al so because ground ed theory is about theory building rather than theory testing, it i s less focused on finding the limitations of a study or the ext ent to which the result s can be g eneralized. Al l the cases or sites in the st udy are used to modify the themes and emerging theory, leaving none left over in which the theory can be tested. A grounded theory stud y is compl ete when new cases produce no change in the th emes or hypotheses.
Phase VII At the end of t he data analy si s, major t hemes were worked out, concepts and issues were ev aluat ed and cl arified. An overarchi ng description of the resear ch findings was put together. Results were tho ught of in entiret y and a report was organized so that the argument moved from idea to idea in a logical way.
For these r eason. It requires explorati on and engag ement t hat sensitively delves into t he compl exity t hat Identity it self is. adding a sense of fluidity. conflict.” Thi s flow might be strai ghtforward and linear or more fluid and ful l of surpri ses.- 32 . gi ven that it dimin ished my fears of giving ov er control t o another (in thi s case. insi sting that the “participant” l ead the way) and that dealt wi th and sometim es appear ed even to encourage ambiguity. the m ethod of interviewing was very rel evant an d sensitive. in these fragment s are an explorati on of identity.Chapter 3 Result s Intervi ews The border s between all these aspect s of Identity explored ar e not al ways clear and well d efined. . uncertainty. By not direct ing the n arratives complet ely in any way (learni ng not to interrupt the conversation during t he narrative). the researcher let the conver sation partner know that it i s legit i mate to b e ambi guous and to not feel the need t o place cl ear bord ers around his or her life story. and acceptance. chang e. one often blurs i nto the other. given that thi s interview process. with stori es that are not always congruent with one another—but all of this i s okay. and t hat he or she can “go with the flow. and co ntradict ions. The researcher did not aim to control what happened d uring the intervi ew pr ocess or to devise a neat and perfect package that woul d result in an absol ute reproducibl e model.
I don’t like being d ependent on people for each and everyt hing. Ab out myself. I like hav ing relationship. Listening to stories. (that is not to say I don’t feel emoti ons.Name – Bhumik a Age – 20 year s Educational Qualifications – B. I…don’t jump to conclu sions.Pat ient. Tell me a bit about your ba ckgrou nd and interests in lif e? Ho w would you describe yourself? “My “self” and my int erest s in life…as i n just in terms of my int erest s. I prefer when peopl e tell me what they think r ather than having me guess about stuff. society. I care about people I am in interact ion wit h. that explains my int erest in psychol ogy and i nterest i n humanities. knowi ng about peopl e. Self-description.A. but that when I have to act I go more reason. I would say – I am a sort of person who i s pretty hon est. The world in general. (Honours) Psychology Q. my family. I go more by reaso n th an emotions.” . I am not gregarious…I am thir sty for attenti on or soci alite. I am independent. things about peopl e.nature. my friends. I won’t call myself VERY friendly. I think I have some very good relationships. peopl e.- 33 .
is an exten sion of wh at y ou are and t hat i s your id entity so you need t o const antly question it. if my identity is what I am and what I do…it i s important to question …because…when you are doing som ething. Do you think qu estioning your “identity” is a rel evant con cern in your life? “Yes. What do you think your identity is? “It is what I am at the moment. the crisi s would be that realizati on that you aren’t really what you think you are. how they are?” “What you think about…it i s not such an id entity crisis…m ore of a feeling that you ar e not ready to deal with your surroundings. I speak of identity crisi s from the experience of friends who feel frustrated about who they are. .Q. what I think I am and what I want to be.” Q. it will always be.- 34 . you need to know why? What you start to do.” Q.” “There is an ideal you aspire for. and you feel like you can’t achi eve it so you cannot b e that so you have an identity crisis. What do you think an “identity crisi s” i s? Have you exp erien ced an identity crisi s ever? If so then what would describ e it as? “An identit y cri sis i s it could be any di sparity bet ween what you tho ught you wer e and it i s not con si stent with what other s thi nk of you. you ar e about to do somethi ng. what they are going to be.” “No I haven’t experi enced an identity cri sis in my life.
- 35 . Definition of id entity. “I am a student” I am trying to figure out and under stan d and like to know why thing s work and make th em better for people around. .” Q.The way I define myself. Can you define it for me? c. Can you describ e it? b. What do you think is the difference between identifying wit h something and having an “identity? When you know something about your self and you see that in another person/ thing you identify with them. Identity. concept s. What do you think are the most i mportant asp ects of you r identity? Answer.Identity Crisi s. what I am right now.The ideas.Crisi s i s an experience of helpl essness…not being able t o do anything about a situation or circum stance. Q.knowing what is in you i s identit y. word s a per son uses t o descri be what h e or she “i s” and what he or she aspires to be. Freudian sense. What do you think your identity is? a.“ Freu d defi ned i dentification as y ou cathect your libid o on one person and in order to get approval from the per son you pl ease them.
- 36 . when we f ace aut hority which didn’t trust me (teachers when they don’t trust children in school). Q. . ot hers interact wit h me. . Life experiences. What do you think youth identity crisis means? Answer. when peopl e out family started inter acting.friend s. If so what are you r thoughts about such a “phase”? b. Do you think “identity crisi s” i s a specific experience to the youth? c. As per the experi ences and feedback from your environment.that make you feel that you have constructi ve changes in identity. Do you think your age i s a specific period for any chan ges in you r Identity? a. with me. “I guess when I st arted perceivi ng my parents interact with each other. they say it is…b ut experience more than age specific that you feel changes in identity. physiology of a young person mi ght play a part but not so much. when school st arted.Q. Do you think your identity remains t he same no matter what? If so then can you please describe how? No I don’t…why not? Because if I am aspiring toward s so mething it keeps changi ng if you are making progress or regress.
When parent s start ed gi ving m e mor e fr eedom. My Generation k. Race or Ethnic Backg round h.- 37 . Personal valu es and moral standard s c. Hopes for the Future i. other peopl e. Q. Dream s & Imagination f. when I got more responsibility. Popularity d. conver sations about different things in life. I will stat e some statements to you and you tell me thei r relevan ce to you with respect to your sense of id entity? (With ref eren ce to the items on AIQ-IV) How much of these do you think def ine/describe o r make-up your identity and why ? Feel free to say anything you want on these issues: a. Different interacti ons. Physical Appearance j. Being part of the many generation s in my family e. Things I own b. mostly have to do with people. React to what others say or do g. My friendshi ps became deeper. Gestures & Manneri sm s . People when they aren’t in cont act with you. in other countries wh en you think about their experiences.
“They are quiet import ant to m e. its not because it is an aspect of who I am.“lately i t has n ot b een a big part of m e but ther e have been .l. Religion o. It’s not that important. Your Sex. Sexual Orientation Things I own.my possession s “I don’t think one can sum up all the possessions under one category so I will stat e different t hing s in my life as having different m eanings t o me. Relationship s r.Male or Femal e n. I don’t put much into it. Commitment on Political issues w.” My Camer a.- 38 . Change t. Fears & Anxieties m. they help dev elop t he thinking I have. Feeling of Being unique q. Occupational Choi ces v.“ If I dress for comfort. Athletic Activities u.” Clothes.. Social Class s. Language x.” Book s an d Novels.. Social behavio r p.
” Being Part of Many Generations of my family “I would say t hat thi s i s somewhat important.” Personal Values and Moral Standard s “It is very important to the sense of who I am or my identity” “Perhap s because yo ur question was framed as su ch. “I would rat e thi s bet ween 2 and 3 because you cannot really kno w what you real ly ar e wit hout your soci al envir onment.- 39 .that made it an asp ect of my identity. If people had amazi ng skills of communication thi s would be a perfect 5.” Popularity with other people.the societ y ensures that cert ain peopl e live in a cert ain way and get a certain am ount of resources. But Popularity i n terms of soci al feedback Is important to the sense of who I am. . I also know th at people have th eir own bi ases so it s not al ways a r eliable way to j udge yourself by the level of popularit y I have wi th other s....getting m ore specific withi n our soci ety . Self if mediat ory between my own valu es and t he society so my personal values ar e al so a representation of the soci al environm ent I was brought up in.maybe even VE RY important because belo nging to the sect i n the soci ety th at I bel ong to has also d etermin ed the circum stances I was born into and mad e me who I am...times when I used it to express myself...
his family is a “high caste” however they are not very economi cally stabl e family. One of my friend. VERY educated and their ideology i s different-.Marxi st/Communi st. ” .I don’t look at emotion and reason as op posite poles. It is NOT very im portant for me because I never experien ced the Education al Backward ness or Pover ty being a middle class urban individual an d therefore I have not shar ed any of the attributes of my “Sched ule caste group” but I val ue the struggl e and t hings that generations befor e me went throug h.- 40 . You cannot complet ely i sol ate one thing from the other..” “If things hadn’t changed...People who belong to a higher cast e have had a bett er life. but things have changed and so it makes it important for m e to hav e my identity in t he way I thi nk about my famili al background..with the cast e syst em pr evailing.” “Being from a sch edul e caste and not taking a reservation in college or schoo l has done me som e good but al so has influenced my identity a whole lot.” Emotions and Feelings “ I think it is a hu ge part of you and t hat it i s not devoid of reason. Peopl e who don’t have to deal with discriminatio n or set backs or perhaps I woul dn’t have turned out the way I have becau se I got to think more about these i ssues since they were affecting me so strongly. They are however.
” Places wh ere I have lived and where I was rai sed: “May be it gave us a ni ce pl ayground o r park that was close by.” . I have f ear of lizards and I still have not My Sex: Female “In the ki nd of soci ety I’m in it m atter s a lot.Reputation “I am not concerned about m y reputati on.” Attractive to other peopl e “My reasons to be attract ed to peopl e would reflects myself. I’m in a girl’ s college it s a r eservation so yes being a girl matt ers a lot to me.” The way you deal with fears and anxieti es “ I try t o und erst and why I have th at fear or anxiety.- 41 . that way reputation mat ters. Also fem inism (not t o b e taken as reb ellion) but as a under stood why it i s. Other than that it didn’t make much difference where we were raised. But I am committ ed towards doing thing s that I n eed so I can survive in the world current ly. its not just b eing sex it’ s Gender.“As you grow old you m ature and you across different aspect s of your life you woul d i n that age so no bei ng part of m y generation doesn’t really have that much of a significance to my sense of self.” Belongi ng to my age gro up.
” Race or Ethni c Background“Why? Becau se it i s important to the sense of your soci al and cultural background and I am trying to know m ore about it. I mean I can imagine if a guy com es into your room with a gun that would determine who I am th e way I l ook at t hings but o ther than th at I don’t thi nk the sense of imagini ng has much to do with who you are. wh at I say or do has a signif icant role in who I am.movement to bring about awar eness towards what it is to be th e woman gender is significant in my life. how that makes me different from say a chinese person or an American person but I’m less affected by it b ecause my b asi c inner self isn’t different from ot hers I think so I’m less affected by it.” . My race and ethni c background only places m e in a cont ext.” Dream s and Imagination “What k ind of dreams are you t alking ab out? Ambiti on? I have amb ition but my im agination i s a very sm all aspect of who I am.” Social Beha vior“It is very important because you cannot be your self wit h a soci al environment. For exam ple. I have had to deal with problem of cast e since it is a strong part of my soci et y as an indian.- 42 .
.Height. But it doesn’t make my identit y.” Relationship with people. Additional question: What are you r hopes for the future? “ I am going to l earn more about how thi ngs work in the world.“where it being an aspect of my identity is concern ed. so it is a huge part of who I am.. “Sometimes peopl e thi nk because I’m so smal l I’m weak..” Religion.- 43 .different relationships have varied effect s on people’ s identity. also since it begin s wit h “self ” it al so for ces me to say very important.. For some peo ple it’s l ike a belief in miracl es..Hope for the future and goals. .” Physical Appearance. some peop le disguise it. Shape of your body.“I don’t have a reli gion.how can one t alk abou t their identity without con sidering self-knowledge import ant. It is varied for varied people. Weight.reason i s fear. nothing bad will happen if I believe in god.” Self Knowledg e. belief in a superpower.. I will go to heaven. by world I mean everythin g in my environment.“Of course very important.” Additional question: “What do you think religion is?” “Reli gion is a very serious something.
Commitment to a Romantic Relation shi p. a per son’s i dentity i s the word s.“ It doesn’t affect my i dentity directly ho wever. etc.” “For me. ideas.” My Sexual Ori entation.” Spiritual Beli efs. I think it includes only that . I do not feel connected t o anything higher t han m e.- 44 . if you were to think about homosexual it y then being a lesbian or being away from the norm (deviati ng from heter osexuality) can have it’s impact upon identity v ery strongly.” Q.“I think it i s not applicabl e to me. trait s.“It is a confusi ng statem ent. It is your self-percepti ons and aspir ations. that she uses to describe her self as she i s at the moment as well as what she aspires t o be. feedback in relationships gives me a sense of who I am. I cannot understand it or it s relevance to me. And these are aspects of herself that she uses to deal with the world. the f act that I like that kind of a person speaks a lot about my what my identity is. What would you like to say in a conclusion “What your identity is?” and do you think thi s exploration has b rought you any closer to defining a sense of it? “I don’t think it h as changed…it has to depend on how it chang es m y interaction with peopl e. It is not like I take thing s as a given from ext ernal relationships but it helps m e get closer to myself. Also in a rom antic rel at ionship.
A perso n might consider some aspect s of her identity more import ant than others probably based on what aspect of her identity is more operant i n her life.- 45 . som e aspect s that are important to all like gender. Experience i s an imp ortant f actor as experiences cause the developm ent of those aspect s and make t hem salient to self-perception. There are. If they were to remai n latent forever. they wouldn’t be part of identity.” . what she uses more. of course. Indian/Italian) then it is a part of her personality. If she thinks that the kind of food she eats (h ealthy/ unhealthy. For example.part of a p erson that sh e is aware of or has given thought too. But of cour se that i s a soci al construct and subj ect to change as soci ety chang es. We all have to deal with i ssues of gender. if she doesn’t think that the food she eats defines her in any way then it is not part of her identity.
Do you think qu estioning your “identity” is a rel evant con cern in your life? What do y ou think an “i dentity crisis” i s? Ha ve you experi enced an identity cri si s ever? If so then what would describe it as? My identity cri si s has been a confli ct bet ween who I really am and what others (family. I am a student counselor at Ram Jas Coll ege. From my interest in people and under standi ng what th ey are all ab out I have been working with i ssues clo se t o me.- 46 . Q. I am a Musl im woman and I am a liberal Musl im woman and then I think I am a Muslim woman who is secul ar.Name – Shifa Haq Age – 23 years Educational Qualification – MA (Psychology) Tell me a bit about y our ba ckground and interests in life? How woul d you describe yourself? “I like exist ential lit erature. I have a lot of activism in m e and min ority i ssues affect m e…I have worked and volunteered in m any “movem ents”. What do you think your identity is? “I have come to und erst and it as. My identity is v ery much situated in my peers.” Q. There is always . parents and soci ety) have told me to be. I am well read…I am almost well read i n psych oanalytic t hought. I am deeply m oved by Undergrou nd music.
Q. the woman in it. according the need and pressures. thi s crisi s i s my struggle. What do you think is the difference between identifying wit h something and having an identity? Q. the therapi st in it often change. what I am right now. What do you think are the most important aspect s of your identity? Answer.- 47 . Do you think your identity remains t he same no matter what? If so then can you please describe how? Yes essentiall y it remains the same. “I am a woman. The most importan t aspect of my identity is the liberal woman in me that takes pride in its liberal moment s. I will state some statements to you and you tell me thei r rel evance to you with respect to you r sense of identity? (With referen ce to the items on AIQ-IV) . Yes.The way I define myself. I am a Muslim woman” I am trying to figur e out and under stand and like to know why things work and make them bet ter for people around. the questions and the excit ement and tragedy th at surrounds i t chang e it.that g ap and difference and the ambi guit y in between. that of a person but the Muslim in it .
Feeling of Being unique q. Your Sex. Social behavio r p. Athletic Activities . Being part of the many generation s in my family e. Fears & Anxieties m. Dream s & Imagination f. Race or Ethnic Backg round h. Change t. Personal valu es and moral standard s c. Gestures & Manneri sm s l. Hopes for the Future i. Popularity d. Relationship s r. Physical Appearance j.Male or Femal e n. My Generation k.How much of these do you think def ine/describe o r make-up your identity and why? Feel free to say anything you want on these issues: a. Things I own b. Social Class s. React to what others say or do g. Religion o.- 48 .
Sexual Orientation Th i n gs I ownWhat do you th i n k you own? “I o wn no t hing. i t doesn’ t have much to do wi t h m y identi t y or make me who I am. at leas t no t hing in the p h y sical sense and moreover. M y M o bile Phone is a means t o per sonal acces s t hat connect s me to o t her s. I feel at times t hat I t cannot be good if it is me. Peo p le are im por tan t t o me and being . You have to be reall y close t o me for me to admit t hat I am self critical and moral s tandards are set m y me not m y parent s (or societ y) .- 49 . and I am extremel y self-cri tical (genuinel y ).” Persona l val u e s and moral standards-“I a no t ever guilt y of an y t hing I’ve done.u.” Popu lari ty. Occupational Choi ces v. Commitment on Political issues w. Language x.“ I have been po p ular and i t has made an im pact on m y iden ti t y in making me the wa y I am. I keep dark moment s along wi t h t he ha p p y ones. So in the sense t he y become ver y im por tant t o t he sense of who I am bu t t he y are evaluated and set b y me not t he set moral s tandards. I don’ t consider p h y sical things around me as p ar t of m y identi t y.
So i t isn’ t reall y t hat im p or tan t an as p ect of m y identi t y. Lineage is no t t hat m y t hological something for me. being cons tan tl y in exile. jus t t he kind of societ y we are from.50 .” Race or Ethn ic Backgro u nd. i t i s one t hing that has gone right in life on i t s own. M om’ s famil y t o o wasn’ t so close while growing up. M y p arent s were not arist ocratic. I wouldn’ t want t o be the one killing harmon y in a place for the sake of po p ularit y. y o u jus t know y ou are going but where it is sometime difficul t t o .p o p ular hel ped i t. t hat i s something t ha t reall y makes us different from each ot her.” B e i n g part of th e man y g en erat i on s i n my fam i l y“ M y fat her had 3 si s ter s and famil y hasn’ t been cohesive. I don’ t belong to a higher order wi t hin Islam ei ther.t inted dreams and ho p e means a lo t of hard work.“I am no thing wi t hout t hem.” Dr eam s & Imag i n at i on . I don’ t have that “arrogance of heritage”. Don’ t forget t hat y ou are a Mu slim.” Hopes f or th e Fut ur e. Al t ho ugh.“I don’ t have an y ros y. from the societ y ( Bo t h M u slims and non-M u slims). I t hink m y iden ti t y in t hat wa y i s a s t ruggle.“Race & ethnicit y has been a kernel of t rauma.
but when I see skim pil y dressed women and lates t t rends t hat are in t he mains t ream it saddens me as t o what we are moving towards and how t he y ou t h i s being disillusioned through such wa y s.” G est ure s & Man n er i sm s.“ I had a phantas y once that what if I burned m y face. Or t hat do m y breas t s re present beau t y and fer tili t y and if I had breas t cancer would I be the same? How would o t hers react if I los t t hem or had a disfigured face.” Phy s ica l Appearance.51 .” G en erat i on. such a po pular thing to no t ice bu t i t is mo s tl y a p ar t of “ p er so nal grooming” doesn’ t have much t o do wi t h a per son’ s iden ti t y .“ T hi s is a ver y behaviorist wa y of sa y ing something.” Fears & Anx i et i e s- “We are driven by our fears and anxieties. T he Liberal Woman in me is scared of m y anxieties and fears of no t becoming . I t’ s a p u t off concep t brought u p b y self hel p books. when I see t hem I feel that I have found m y o wn pocket ha p p il y embedded wi thin t he whole.determine and I don’ t like to romantici ze i t ei ther b y calling m y self Pro metheus.“ I am sometimes ver y p r o ud of m y generation because of t he activism that lies in us.
Life’s longest decision s remind me of m y religion. I love the si s terhood we all share and I don’ t ex perience that conflict wi t hin m y self when I see a woman which I feel when seeing a man. You are who yo u are.“ I am not a religious per son .sometimes I don’ t like being a woman because I am seeking fearlessness and risk y behavior and un-good girl like behavior.an y t hing. Nobod y i s in a Jihad agains t Communalism in thi s coun tr y and I wo uld love t o meet a man who would onl y marr y a Mu slim woman. Onl y M u slim. bu t i t i s m y identi t y t o be a M u slim.“Rarel y.” .” Your S ex. which place t o s t a y who t o talk t o .- 52 . even in areas I am unique I feel dep o si ted on t he banks rather t han crediti ng i t t o m y self and so I don’ t kno w how much of it i s m y iden ti t y.” Fe e l i n g of B e i n g u n iqu e. i t jus t never had a direct connection s. Whether i t i s what livelihood. I feel harmony wi t h women and no env y.Mal e or F em al e. who t o meet and what friends t o have and what romantic relationshi p s t o get involved in. what job. Being a Mu slim.” Rel i g i o n .“ Gender. But I also love women. Womanhood becoming into a minorit y cul t ural sabo tage.
I cannot feel for something tha t doesn’ t exist for me. When you have to take a seriou s s tand i t can tell volumes abou t yo u. Peo ple who are pivo tal their o p inions mat ter bu t no t because i t is right or wrong.53 . M one y i s not y our identi t y bu t what you do defini tel y is. Also talking abou t p oli tics in our social milieu.” “ I d on’ t know where m y communi t y i s.” Ch a n g e.“I t is a big thing to go agains t classicis t regime bu t I had t he privilege t o and I don’ t s t ruggle as famil y & mone y i s onl y t o t hink abou t con scious actions t here is none to s p l urge so whatever. I am on t he borders/ fringes.“No i t is no t a par t of m y identi t y.” S o ci a l C l a s s.When a circums tance/ crisi s arises y our p oli tical inclination s can reall y tell a lot abou t your identi t y. Being a good per son and a good friend is a big deal to me.“I t tells your capaci t y for growt h bu t no t in t erms of ho w much money yo u make. I am a commit ted “ social lesbian” and I feel pride in m y coun t r y t ill something like God hra ha p pens t o i t.” O ccupat ion a l Ch o ic e s. I res p on d violentl y t o changes ou t side.” .“I t makes a lot of m y iden ti t y .Rel at i o n sh ip s. t he kind of per so n yo u are and the kind of peo ple around y ou det ermines who you are and your iden ti t y .
how much does t hat con t ribute t o m y identi t y. cul turall y... girls were taugh t Hindi and bo y s were taught Urdu because Urdu was a “higher” language and the language of the cour t so what would girls do learning Urdu?” S e x u a l Or i e n tat i on. Being a “social lesbian” enjo ying close bonds wi t h same sex individuals has come easil y because i t was eas y access t oo. a LOT.“I t hink language is a big par t of m y iden ti t y . Besides i t i s im p or tan t t o highlight our own s t ruggles agains t t wi s t ed t ool s of pa t riarch y and what sexuali t y i s really abou t .” . I t has also been a source of trauma.- 54 .Langua g e. Al so I look at bot h men and women differen tl y ( sexuall y s peaking) so yes I consider it a st rong as pect of m y iden ti t y .“I t hink t hat sexual orientation is a big par t of m y iden ti t y because I am no t obligated b y t he heterosexual norms forced on me b y t he societ y. Al so amongst M u slims.
In the news. if it is then why i sn’t our education syst em and col leges and schools talking about them. my upbringi ng and what I have given prioriti es to in my life…I am not religious. but why is this t hinking still prevalen t more than why. d epending upon my circumst ances. What i s my id entity? It is m any things. when we tal k about iden tity are we sensitive to these fragment s? Researchers have spoken about dalit s and high cast es. they said that the ratio of women to m en in the city of Delhi is 80 2:1000! There are people doin g work on it. Femal e infanticide and foetici de i s as goo d as murder and war and deserv es attention and to pl aced in mainstream literatures if this is the . Musl ims and Hin dus why hasn’t any one voiced tho se on the fringes? Those who don’t know wh at to conform to? Those who d on’t fit in the out-group or the in-group? Women ar e oppressed prim arily through control of their sexualit y. I feel a sense of belon ging and ali enatio n both.From the Researcher’s Notebook. “Society tod ay i s fragm ent s.- 55 . My hi story i s only 22 years old but it i s r elated to cent uries of the hi story of the land I b elong to. I am not an atheist…I bel ieve strongly in movement s t hat li berate oppressed peopl e. m aking us actively aware in t hese i ssues. it becomes th e biggest tool of control for patriarchy.Aditi Ahl awat There have b een so many ways people have defined wh at their identities are.Reflections Name.
at l east one can speak of young women in the urban families who can speak to their parent s openly.- 56 . Moreover. . To be able to openly ex press oneself is a privilege still.situati on…thi s has an effect on the identity of women i n the co untry. There ar e many reason s out th ere…which ones are the “Right” ones and which on es are mine? With these thought s in my mind I approached the parti cipants already carrying a bag gage to unload. what about their st atus. what in our parents change when som ething b ad happen s? Why do es the societ y ostracize the victim in a rape? Why do fathers go dist ant t o girl s as they g row older ? Are these nat ural phenomenon or ar e they socially and cult urally medi ated? And if t hey are the how so an d how can they be changed? Because it affects my identit y and my exi stence as a woman? I feel privi leged at tim es and feel t he curse of being a woman. the relationship women shar e with their parents. If I was a boy life would be different. in the process of conver sation these young women rev eal ed themselves to me and we coul d reach some underst anding. their relationship dynami cs wit hin and outside their famil ies. why so? I sn’t it a freedom and right of every human bei ng? The contradiction of modernity for young women has become that we are made to believe th at we are equal even when the surroundings and society shout at us differently.
In this exploratio n different aspect s emerged and took the parti cipant s as well as the researcher into a journey of confli cts and resolutions th at shaped their identities to what it is today.” The analysis of the narratives by the participant s are em bedd ed in the everyday reality the participant s and t he researcher experienced. but the them es that em erged have directly or indirectly influenced and sensitized us to i ssues that prevail in the socio-cul tural world. Respectin g their experiences and situat ions in life. the resear cher then explored her way with t hem into defining “What i s My identity?” These experiences may or may not represent an entir e generations’ vi ews or every yout h of tod ay. Lifton in The Protean Self said that.- 57 . a lif e story that i s const antly re-created.Chapter 4 Discu ssion Exploration & Resilien ce The aim of the study was to un derst and t he various themes that pr evail i n the exploration of their identity with t he Indian urban youth. “Our human thinkin g consist s of a continual creation an d re-creation of images and forms…Our symboli zation of self focuses on our own narratives. These narrati ves give insight into experi ences of two young wom en who have made an att empt to describe them selves and their identities in their narratives. its .
social an d cultural nuan ces can be sensed through account s and also vali dated by many before them who spoke of similar them es in life. As the nar ratives unfold. It is not po ssi ble t o be neutr al in such an interpr etation or analysis of experiences. thus rei nforcing the feeling—bo th in . the stories of the conver sation al partner s. the process of telling the story and it s outco me (the complet ed int erview) i s a re-construction of their life in fragm ent s and an attempt to bi nd those fragments int o a coll ective whole (Rei ssman. theory and reflections from within from where a few themes were extr acted and they are discussed in this chapt er. The connection between the accou nts of the participant and constru ction of identity When a researcher asks a p articipant to relate hi s or her account s. Fisch erRosenthal & Al heit.- 58 . my react ions and reflections have emerged and colored the way I looked at the account s and represented them into t he stories the participants told m e. 1995). the indi vidual s validat e their sense of self.personal. Some t heoreti cians have averred that narrat ing one’s lif e experiences i s not onl y a recounting of one’s life b ut is actu ally a process by which individuals constru ct their identity (Botell a. This includ es bot h the experien ces th at the person has lived through and the ways in whi ch the individu al und erstands the meanings that these experiences have had for him or her. 1997. there is an effort to t ake t his subj ectivity and enm esh it with the im aginary world of literature. However. 1993).
Crisi s. ideas. etc.- 59 . they wouldn’t be part of identity. trait s. “…for me. to come to a common p oint t hat between what i s experienced inside and get an affirmation of it from the outsid e. It is your self-percepti ons and aspir ations. I think it includes only that part of a person that she i s aware of or has given thought too… A person might consider some aspect s of h er iden tity more important than other s probably based on what aspect of her identity is more operant in her life. Confusion. what she u ses more.themselves and i n the li sten er—that an id entity is i n the process of being constructed through the vehi cle of the stor ytelling. And these are aspects of herself that she uses to deal with the wo rld.” -Bhum ika . a person’s id entity is the words. Fluidity & Resolution One of the most important and central t heme of the narratives and t hi s entire proj ect has been the need to define “my identity” especially in li ght of being “youn g”. that she uses to describe her self as she i s at the moment as well as what sh e aspires t o be. Experien ce is an i mportant factor as experiences cause the dev elopment of those aspect s and make them sali ent to selfperception. It is a need to pl ace that identity somewhere in the outer reality. If they were to remai n latent f orever.
“People are important to me. This search is easily misunderstood and often it is onl y dimly per ceived by the individu al him self. “The sen se of identity then b ecom es (during yout h) more necessary (and more problemati c) wher ever a wide range of p ossi ble identiti es i s envi saged.” And so he brought into prime focus “iden tity confusion” and t he struggl e to define it.245) “…Yet in all youth’s seeming shiftiness. a seeking after some durabi lity can b e d etect ed. I thi nk my i dentity i n that way i s a struggle. Both spo ke about deeper and connect ed issu es of the soci al setup and what it made them.- 60 .Shifa describes her i dentity as a to and f ro between wh at she think s it i s inside and looks for confirmations out side too. the search to d efine identity was well pr eserved in t he thought s and expl oration by bot h the parti cipant s. It is as if it were im portan t for us t o look into a mirror to confirm what we think we are and only when we got th at could we say that it was what we are.235) In this sense. Erickson (1968) says that. (p. Their quest for defining their identiti es in different ways was al l pointing towards the ro ad to resolution and under stan ding. On deeper explorations on thi s i s was ev ident th at thi s conflict of “Who am I?” “What i s my identit y?” onl y got more compl ex and thought evoking as we went further along. because youth always steps up to grasp both ‘diver sity in principl e and principle in diver sity’.” (p. you just know you are goi ng but where it is sometime difficult t o .
The examples ar e drawn from the interviews that were gathered. 199 1). These account s can also be validated by many postmodern approaches.Shifa. class. thus contributi ng to the fluid nature of identity construction. At different times both were asked about commun ity. and so on. A crucial aspect of this theory i s the fluctuati ng nature of identity.determine and I don’t like to rom anticize it either by callin g myself Prometheus. 2001. Although these questions wer e posi ted in a gener al fashion on further expl oration deeper implications of what rol e soci et y had in the identities of t hese young women cam e up. what all th e questi ons have in commo n is that they . Giddens. based on factor s such as race. soci ety. when their views on religion was asked strong experiences of inner conflict and a struggle to underst and cam e from within.”. these factors becom e salient at different times and i n different ways. Alth ough peopl e t end to identify with m any aspect s. both of whom found caste an d religion a very implicit an d distorted p art of their identity. gender. which stat e th at the construction of on e’ s identity is a d ynami c process that develop s an d ch anges over the lif e course of t he individual (Bicket. national origin. ethnicity.- 61 . political issues and how these related to th eir identi ty. Sensitized to Discrimination I will now present short ex cerpt s from the conver sati ons wit h the young women.
being constantly in exile.” “…My f ather h ad 3 sist ers and family hasn’t been cohesive. So i t isn’t really that import ant an aspect of my identity.” . who to meet and what friend s to have an d what romantic relationships to get involved in. which place to stay who to talk t o. When you have t o take a serious st and it can tell volumes about you… I feel pride in m y country till something like Godhr a happen s to it. ju st the kind of soci ety we are from.” Let us begin with Shifa’ s account on the i ssu es of Religion and Identity: “I am not a religious person. whatever you think i s relevant.began with the request from the intervi ewer to “tell me your views on this.- 62 . My parents were not aristo cratic. Don’t forget th at yo u ar e a Muslim. Life’s longest decisions remi nd me of my religion. from the society ( Both Mu slim s and non-Muslim s). I don’ t have that “arrog ance of heritage”. I don’t belong to a higher ord er wit hin I slam either. Lineage i s not that myt hologi cal somethi ng for me.” Shifa’s response to Political i ssues: “When a circum stan ce ari ses your politi cal inclination s can really tell a lot about your identity. what job. Nobody is in a Jihad ag ainst Communalism in this country an d I would love to meet a man who would only marry a Muslim wom an.” “…Race & et hnicity has been a kernel of trauma. but it is my identity to be a Muslim. Whet her it is what liv elihood. Onl y Musl im. Mom’s f amily too wasn’t so close while growing up.
to having asked if her full name “shifali” not just “shifa” these were fragm ent s that made her questi on the syst em sh e exi sted in. the integrat ion between th e person al and collective aspects of her i dentity seems to be incompl ete. the. On one level. These ar e inst ances of separate present ation of collective versus person al identity but more so are f ragment s of di scrimination f aced becau se of being a Musli m and that too a young Muslim woman i n the dominant “Hindu ” cont ext of the society. embedded noti ons of religi on. From i ssues such as bein g asked if sh e at e beef. S he al so spoke about the str ength this g ave her to look d eeper into her self and explore because of these conflicting im ages set before her in soci et y. the one that forced it s dominant collective id entity upon her s.When we read through Shif a’s account s. Muslim versu s Hindu and the politi cal interplay b etween these i ssues has not been resolved. Even though we are ref erring to a relativel y “liber al” environment that present s itself in the urban society.- 63 . love of the country as well as “not being reli gious” and Muslim history through “Being i n const ant exil e”. to being the only Musl im girl in class. this conflict was experienced by Shifa at a very personal l evel. She speaks of values. Shifa tries to separate her belief that she is ent itled to full human and civil rights from her memories of having experi enced conflicting situati ons (for exam ple those r elated to romantic relati onships) that dealt with her bei ng a “Muslim” towards another exi stential cri sis of . the leg acy of Isl am in her.
.. In short. at t imes... The personal and the coll ective str ands of identity here appear to run parallel to one ano ther. neither meet ing nor cl ashi ng.being a “human being ” and to be treat ed like one i nst ead of a “Musli m” only. In Shifa’s narratives we see how the per sonal and the coll ectiv e intersect.. and the conflict s sh e faced in making the most import ant decisi ons (relationships.maybe even VE RY important because belo nging to the sect i n the soci ety th at I bel ong to has also d etermined the circum stances.- 64 .” . when she describ ed her experien ces.getting more specific within our soci ety -with the cast e system prevailing. friend s.. when a p erso nal traum a has a collective twist..People who belong to a higher caste have had a bet ter life.. In Bhumika’ s accounts of what she v iewed societ y as when she look ed into her identity she st ated that: “I would say t hat thi s i s somewhat important. and. education). Peopl e who d on’t have to deal with di scrimination or set backs or perhaps I wouldn’t have turned out the way I h ave b ecause I got to think more about these issues since they were affecting me so strongly. run parall el to one another.the society ensur es that certain peopl e live in a certain way and get a cert ain am ount of resources. her political views. what we hear in S hifa’s story i s a more separate sense of the per sonal and the soci al primarily because of the sensed di scrimination that was experienced yet laughed off or ignored and so in many ways never voiced.
” “If things hadn’t changed.Marxi st/Communi st. whi ch note: “I wouldn’t h ave turned out the way I have . his family is a “high caste” however they are not very economi cally stabl e family. we hear an expression of inner resoluti on and underst anding that she has wi th thi s part of her identity.” In Bhumika’s accou nts. we saw accept ance and embracing of different fragments of her identity. but things have changed and so it makes it important for m e to hav e my identity in t he way I thi nk about my famili al background.“Being from a sch edul e caste and not taking a reservation in college or schoo l has done me som e good but al so has influenced my identity a whole lot. One of my friend.- 65 . They are however. we see a deep connection and sensitiviti es t owards i ssues of the caste syst em. It is NOT very im portant for me because I never experien ced the Education al Backward ness or Pover ty being a middle class urban individual an d therefore I have not shar ed any of the attributes of my “Sched ule caste group” but I val ue the struggl e and t hings that generations befor e me went throug h. In her intervi ew. You cannot complet ely i sol ate one thing from the other. VERY educated and their ideology i s different-. and it appears as if she accept s equally bot h person al and collective aspect s of her identity. This is evident in the words. with lesser expression of conflict between th e two and in this process something el se emerges.
” With thi s. Later on in the interview. when Bhumik a talks about “how the sense of your social an d cultural background and I am trying to know more about it. that she is who she i s and how she is because of the explor ations she has done so far. what I say or do has a signifi cant rol e in who I am. .- 66 .” This way her personal goals “to und erst and myself and the world around me” mix both th e person al id entity and the collective. In later accou nts she al so connect s the role of this soci al st ance on her per sonal identity when she say s “It i s very im portant because you cannot be yourself with a soci al environment. how that makes me different from say a chinese person or an Ameri can per son but I’m less affected by it because m y basi c inner self i sn’t different from others I think so I’m less affected by it. She feel s now that she want s to get more out of the perso nal expression of life integrating it wit h the rest of t he world and all thi s has yet to be fully realized. My race and ethni c background only pl aces m e i n a context. For example. from her interview.” We can underst and Bh umika’s att empt to look beyon d the sy stem i n the process when she speaks of the sit uation with in her friend’s case where educati on is given a preference over “Caste”. I have had to deal with problem of cast e since it i s a stro ng part of my society as an i ndian. it appear s as if she is not considering maki ng th e underst anding of societ y and per sonal identity an integral part of her life.becau se I got to think more about these issues since they were affecting me so strongl y.
We are cultural animal s for whom the resources of cultur e are ingredient and not m erely accessory to human thou ght (Lifton i n the Protean Self). from more recent uprisi ngs of the youth in the instance of increasi ng percentage in colleges for reserved categori es to which model of iP od one owns. life is no longer governed by rites of passag e and therefore modern m en and women must pursue a p ersonal search for authenti city and meaning. ecologi cal imbalan ces and political conflict s and wars and terrorism. a time in which human hi story has become more open. Howev er. through moderni ty has brought al ong with it thi s unpredict ability technological advancem ent. these i ssues might have deeper connections to the identity of individual s than the credit we give them. Lifton also says that each individual person "has been evo lving a sense of self appropriate to the restl essn ess and flux of o ur time. whether one eats pork or beef. This has put the contemporary youth identity on a borderline bet ween what it is to be “m odern” to what it is to be of a “Caste” or a “Rel igion”. more dangerous. In the Indian cont ext. A deeper look into the minds of the technological ly ad vanced and liberal soci alites always gives way to what one’s l ast name i s and what caste on e bel ongs to. These have all enmeshed into a complicated real ity the urban Indi an youth faces. and more unpredict able." In Lifton's view. . wh ether you are schedule caste. older issu es of di scriminat ion on the basis of cast e and religion haven’t even started to resolve.On reflection as a researcher.- 67 .
Dworkin & Verma. how that makes me different from say a chin ese person or an American person but I’m less affected by it b ecause my b asi c inner self isn’t different from ot hers I think so I’m less affected by it. will focus its intelligence (feminine as well as masculine) on the ethi cal question s concerning t he workings of human generations-beyond produ cts. My race and ethni c background only places me in a context. But issu es of famil y. If there com petition can be halt ed before it leads t o mutual annihilati on.259260) . “ it i s cl ear today the ideolog ical needs of al but intellectual youth of the h umani st tr adition are begi nning to be t aken car e of by a subordinati on of ideology to the technologi cal super identit y in which even th e Am erican dream and t he Marxi st revolution com e to meet.Larson. identity is not devoid of context or culture and this is an idea that the yout h must carry with it t o prevent annihilati on.” Therefor e. cast e. (2003) illu strates how the urban indian middle class teenager s are convergi ng i n trends with the Am erican/western youth. power and ideas…Thi s can be advan ced only by men and wom en who know that f rom generation to generation th e test of what you produce i s the CARE it i nspires.- 68 . p.. Erickson says. gender. it is just po ssible that a new manki nd seeing that it can now bot h buil d and destroy giganti c scale. creed and religion are differentiated as Bh umika put s it in her response “the sense of your soci al and cult ural background and I am trying to know m ore about it.” (Erickson 1968.
Publicity campaigns projected artistry and elegan ce. vast and variou s. a talented and resourceful peopl e…and what ab out the women? Cl assically photogeni c in either their opulence or their distress. some exotic noti ons and a few grim facts like “Sati. they now sho wed thriving marketpl aces and glamorou s vacati on spot s. Rape victim s in the cities and fem ale foeti cide”. especi ally youn g women. How are I ndian wom en. experi encing the accelerat ed momentum of the march towards modernity? How do the classic imag es of Indian womanh ood fit in wit h the changing orientations of soci ety i n t he urban Indi a and how do their identity em erge? These question s emerged and partly answered th emselves in the conversations with the participant s. the world’s largest democracy. beyon d all collective and per son al iden tities the .” (p. 89) This is the story and identity of the women in India.- 69 . There was a co-cr eation of exp erience as it becam e an interact ion and sharing between 3 women. but rarely revealed. it comes from stereotype images.Being a Woman – Gender & Patriarch y In her book on Contemporary Indian Women. Sara Mitt er says t hat. Magazine phot os no long er featur ed gaunt faces and out stretched h ands. less pro blemat ical t o ordinary West ern eyes.the researcher and the two participant. our knowledge of the lives they lead is largely anecdot al. Indian women have often been pictured. The issue of identity took it s strongest po sition in these nuances. Indi a had b een looking less alien. “For some years.
But I al so love women. t hese two young women cam e t he closest in sharing their exp eriences as wo men more than any other aspect of their exist ence.- 70 . its not just being a “female” biologi cally. “In th e kind of soci ety I’m i n it m atters a l ot. The discussion s of gender issues in Identi ty exploration were not an effort for us. There is a personal and private sharing that cam e abou t and sudden comfort we experience in being women and in the process validating each ot her’s exp eriences.Shifa There were subli minal m essag es by bot h young wom en of ho w exp ect ation . I love the si sterhood we all share and I don’t experience that conflict wit hin myself when I see a woman which I feel when seeing a man. it was a subtle t urn the conver sation s too k on their own and becam e the deepest moments of sh aring amongst each ot her. From my v antage point as a researcher.women start ed to sh are a common hi stor y and experi ences.”. I’m in a girl’s college its a reservati on so yes being a girl m atter s a l ot in t his society and it matter s a lot to me.” “Gender. it’s Gender.sometim es I don’t like bei ng a woman because I am seekin g fearlessn ess and risky behavior and un-go od girl like behavior. I feel harmony with women and no envy. Bhumi ka said. Also femini sm (not to be taken as rebelli on) but as a movement to bring about awaren ess towards what it i s to be the wom an gender i s significant in my life. that of being women stru ggling to place them sel ves in a modern and urban yet dom inan t and patriarchal world.
control and inhi bit femal e sexuality. these conventions are m ajor support s for mal e dominance and patri archy. Being a “soci al lesbian” enjoying close bond s with sam e sex indivi duals h as come easily because it was easy access too.the double standard. “… it is important to highli ght our own struggles against twi sted tool s of patriarchy and what sexuality i s really about. Shifa emphasized this in her con versations by stati ng that.. how much does that contribute to m y identity. “I think that sexu al orient ation i s a bi g part of my identity becau se I am not obligat ed by the het erosexual norms forced on m e by the societ y. Also I look at both men and women differentl y (sexuall y speaki ng) so y es. In Shifa’ s wish t o “be a man because I am seeking fearlessn ess” it throws light upon the cul ture of oppression and fear that women are reared i n. it has long been recogni zed that certai n conventi ons.and th e notion of “Being a wom an” played havoc wit h the identity of the individual. The conver sation s further went into the rol e of biological and sexual functions to which Shifa responded.- 71 . the cult of virginity and the requirem ent that female sexuality find expressi on solely withi n monogamous hetero sexual marriage.” Similar experiences of the “Twisted tools of patriarchy” and embedded symbol s of women oppression came in a b ook by Nancy Friday called “My . Whatever their origins might be. I con sider it a strong aspect of my identity.. a LOT.” Person (1980) st ates that.
My Self” where she spoke of the daughter’s search for her identity sep arate from the mother’s (control). When that child is the same sex as she. it is the mot her’s own self-est eem that will influence the daught er’s emotional sep aration and independence. More than anyt hing. She stat es. And to highl ight that struggle in a co-creat ed expl oration of her and identity of various women she intervi ewed.” (Nancy Friday. fear. It is not so mu ch what a mot her wants from a daughter that will d etermine how far the girl will go. whether it is her son or daughter. She explains that in-order to understand the identity that is g endered or the “Feminine identit y” there i s a resol ution in a wom an’s self that i s required. she sees herself.” “When a mot her holds her child in her arms. hat e. My Mother. “Young women often ask if they can “have an identity” before they know whom they will marry and for whom they will make a home.Mother.- 72 . She feel s a ti dal wave of every emot ion she has feltlove. anxi ety. 1987. iv) Erickson (1968) in hi s book Identity.Youth and Cri sis stat es. Granted that somethi ng in t he young woman’ s identity must itself open for the peculiariti es of t he man to be joi ned and of the children to be brought up. . My Self. p. this reso lution emerges from the roots of m atriarchal bonds and challenging the mo st intimat e and closest bond that in effect emerged from patriarchy it self. she feels many emotions. “ Understandin g what we have with our mothers i s the beginning of under standin g ourselves.
thi s is singul arly true of Indi an women (p.I think that much of a young woman’s i dentity is alr eady defi ned in her kind of attr activeness and in the selective nature of her search for the man (or men) by whom she wi shes t o be so ught. a wom an defines herself in relation an d conn ection to other intimat e people. the kind of person you are and the kind of . of course. The participant s though “urban” and “young” face these struggles in placing themselves in the soci al milieu as a femini ne iden tity in the presen ce of ot her fact ors of being a “good worker”. and she m ay go far in postponing it s closur e while training herself as a worker and a citizen and whil e developi ng as a person within the role possibilities of her t imes.- 73 . This. a “good citizen”…a “good st udent ”. is only the psych osexual aspect of her identity.283) This total configurational approach al l ows us to place the identity construction of a woman in the proper per spective. “It makes a lot of m y identity. It is from time immemorial women have seen themselves in relation wit h others and not as individu al and t hat thi s trend conti nues as Kak ar (2001) points out an Indian woman does not stand alone. For although in most soci eties. h er identity i s wholl y defined by her rel ation to other s. The dominant psychosocial realities of her life can be con densed into three stages: First she i s a daught er to her parent s Second she is a wif e to her husband Third she is a moth er to her sons.182).” (p.
secular nation and b anned all forms of discrimi nation in theory.” In the end. in the oppressive world that forces women to conform and places t he m any contr adictions Shifa al so said “ I don’t know where my community i s. viewing our identity as t hat of a wom an’s identity i n contempor ary India made us sensitive to t he struggles it took our mot her s to reach where they ar e.- 74 . th e Muslim and the women that em erged and ensued themselves in various asp ect s that co-exi st. to see th e need to the feminist movement in our country.” However. against second class citi zen. the schedule caste. the con stitut ion of India est abli sh India as a democrati c.284) In 1949. religious minorities. Women through the ages have lent themsel ves to variety of roles conduci ve t o an exploitati on of masochist po tenti als. and women. I am on the borders/ fringes. 1 968. just like how the partici pant s . (Erickson. p. Did thi s really happen after 60 year s of independence and t he “Indian” fight again st oppressi on? In the participant s of this stu dy there was glimp se of all three. It al so helped us realize how m en become vi ctim s of patri archy too. in one su ch movement Shif a sai d “ Show me a man who will only marry a Muslim wom an.” On the crossroads of patriarchy also came the realizati on of how women have played i nto gender-roles for “secondary gains”. I cannot feel for som ething that doesn’t exi st for me.people around you determi nes who you ar e and your identity. that is former untouchables.
there needs to be a deeper and repeat ed expl oration and engagement that sensitively delves into this complexit y. if we view the construction of one’s identity as a lifelon g process (Gergen. 1977). who are often deeply in th e throes of trying to under stand who t hey are and what their place is withi n their social cont ext (Erickson. th e dalit. This identi ty has both personal and coll ective asp ect s.in the beginning of this explor ation had st ated: “Everything seem s important. The border s between all th ese aspects are not always be clear and well defined. each aspect has it s own relevance. and acceptance. one often blurs into th e other. Therefore thi s journey i sn’t complet ely over. the oppression Indian wom en p ercei ve and experience and an attempt to underst and t hem. each of these reflect in my id entity as much as of t he participant s. This should be especially true of young adults. adding a sense of fluidity. and loss of control. change. At tim es. the women. whereas at other s. and is a dynamic process that i s unfolding slowly. contradi ctions. For Further Reflection… What i s My Ident ity? As one comes to the question in the end…for now it is th at which is ag ainst oppression an d for th e em powerm ent of the oppressed. confli ct. some aspect of identity becom es highly stressed. the rel igious minorities. other components gain salience. cultural and political world Indi a i s. 1991). However. one’ s identity wil l be characterized by un certainty. then we can also assert that at times.” Withi n identity have emerged the so cial. ambiguity.- 75 . .
By not direct ing the n arratives complet ely in any way (learni ng not to interrupt the conver sati on during the main narrative). insi sting that the “participant” l ead the way) and that dealt wi th and sometim es appear ed even to encourage ambiguity. with stories that are not alway s congru ent with one another—but all of this is okay.- 76 . in these fragment s are an explorati on of identity. gi ven that it dimin ished my fears of giving ov er control t o another (in thi s case.” This flow mi ght be strai ghtforwar d and linear or more fluid and full of surprises. and co ntradict ions. . the method of interviewing was very relevant and sensitive. the resear cher let the co nver sation partn er know that it i s legitimate to b e ambi guous and t o not feel t he need to place cl ear borders around hi s or h er life story. given that thi s interview process. and that he or sh e can “g o with t he flow. The researcher did not aim to control what happened d uring the intervi ew pr ocess or to devise a neat and perfect package that woul d result in an absol ute reproducibl e model. uncertainty.For these reason.
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