Extending identity control theory: Insights from classifier systems

Sociological Theory 22 (4):574-594 (2004)
Abstract
Within identity control theory (ICT), identities control meaning and resources by bringing perceptions of these in the situation into alignment with references levels given in the identity standard. This article seeks to resolve three issues in ICT having to do with the source of the identity standard, the correspondence between identity standards and the identity relevant meanings perceived in the situation or environment, and the activation of identities. Classifier systems, as developed by John Holland, are inductive, flexible, rule-based, message-passing, adaptive systems that are able to learn, to fit in, and to adapt to various and changing environments. Classifier systems are introduced and are extended to incorporate the central components of the model of identity as held in ICT. In this manner, a new identity model is proposed that has inductive and adaptive capacities able to resolve the three issues identified. Unexpectedly, the new model also lays the groundwork for the possible resolution of a long-standing issue within the symbolic interaction framework concerning the origins of shared meanings
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