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The Environment and Identity Processes: The Dancer Identity as a Case Study

  • Author(s): Kushida, Melanie Ann
  • Advisor(s): Stets, Jan E
  • et al.

This qualitative study uses identity theory to examine how the environment impacts the tightness of the identity control system, and how socialization impacts attitudes among dance students at a large university. I collected data through field observations and semi-structured interviews (N=30) of an intermediate ballet class and an intermediate hip-hop class. Findings suggest that the structure of the environment influences situational meanings and attitudes through socialization. In turn, the situational meanings and attitudes impact the tightness of the identity control system. Based on previous research on identities and stress, the tightness of the identity control system impacts the likelihood of experiencing identity non- verification and distress. This research contributes to identity theory by developing a better understanding of voluntary role identities, tightly- controlled identity systems, and the importance of the social environment and socialization in the identity process.

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