Theoretical perspectives on identity: researching identities in healthcare education

Lynn V. Monrouxe, Charlotte E. Rees

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter provides an overview of a range of identity theories alongside a more in-depth exploration of one particular approach: social constructionism. Social constructionism is a grand theory, asserting that knowing in the social world is created through social interaction. This chapter begins by outlining three different individualist approaches to identity: identity statuses and related theories; socio-cognitive approaches and narrative approaches. It then focuses on the social constructionist approach. The chapter presents examples of how social constructionism was utilized in studies employing written, audio and visual qualitative methods. Social identity theory (SIT) was the first to theorise a form of identity distinct from a personal identity. It focuses on identity at the level of the group. Social constructionism asserts that language and action are central and identities are, therefore, discursively constructed though talk and interaction, rather than being constructed within an individual's cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching Medical Education
EditorsJennifer Cleland, Steven J. Durning
Place of PublicationChichester UK
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781118838983
ISBN (Print)9781118839201
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Developmental theories of identity
  • Healthcare education
  • Individual theories of identity
  • Narrative approaches
  • Social constructionism
  • Social identity theory

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