Searching for a Self: Identity in Popular Culture, Media and Society

by Arthur Asa Berger (San Francisco State University)

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This well-written book provides an interesting and engaging introduction to different perspectives on ‘identity’. The book’s particular strength is that the author has not tied himself to a particular perspective but offers views and discussions of ‘identity’ from semiotics, sociology, psychoanalysis, and Marxism, followed by 12 chapters in which he applies and brings these theories to life.
The multi-perspective approach to the topic of ‘identity’ is original. I have not seen a book like this before that explores identity from so many different angles. The applications discussed in chapters 6 to 17 are drawn from recent events, such as Trump’s presidency and the insurgence.
The book will be of great interest to Undergraduate and Graduate students looking for a readable entry into discussions about identity. It also might find a readership outside academia as it covers lots of current affairs and events.

Prof. Dr. Dirk vom Lehn
King's Business School
King's College London

How do people turn out the way they do? How do they “arrive” at themselves and attain an identity? How are our identities affected by our birth order, our hair color, how tall or short we are, our intelligence, our occupation, our race, our religion, our nationality, the socio-economic level of our parents (or our being raised in a single-parent family), where we are born and where we grow up, the language we learn, the way we use language, our fashion tastes, our gender, our education, our psychological makeup, chance experiences we have, the people we marry (if we marry), and countless other factors? There are numerous matters to consider when dealing with identity, which, as Nigel Denis, the author of 'Cards of Identity', reminds us, “is the answer to everything.”

'Searching for a Self' takes a deep dive into the question of identity formation from various perspectives; it is written in a reader-friendly accessible style and makes use of insightful quotations from seminal thinkers who have dealt with the topic. Split into two parts, the first “Theories of Identity,” offers evaluations of identity from semioticians, psychologists, sociologists and Marxists while the second, “Applications,” offers case studies on topics such as Russian identity, Donald Trump’s identity, fashion and identity, LGBTQIA+ identity, Orthodox Jewish identity, elite university education and identity, tattoos and identity, travel and identity, and politics and identity. Covering a wide array of subject areas, this book will be a valuable resource for undergraduate students taking courses in identity, sociology, psychology, cultural studies, and other related fields.

Detailed Contents

Part I:
Theories of Identity

Chapter 1:

Chapter 2:
Semiotics and Identity

Chapter 3:
Sociological Aspects of Identity

Chapter 4:
Psychoanalysis and Identity

Chapter 5:
Marxism and Identity

Part II:

Chapter 6:
Vodka and the Russian Psyche

Chapter 7:
Trump and the Impostor Identity

Chapter 8:
Fashion and Identity
The Broadway Riders

Chapter 9:
LGBTQIA+ and Gender Identity

Chapter 10:
Jan. 6, 2021, and Political Identity

Chapter 11:
Haredi: Ultra-Orthodox Jews

Chapter 12:
Parody and Comedic Identity

Chapter 13:
Ivy League and Elite Universities

Chapter 14:

Chapter 15:
German Engineering

Chapter 16:
The GOP: Grand Old Party
A Problem in Political Identity

Chapter 17:
The Politics of Identity
And Identity Politics

Chapter 18:
The Seafarer's Self
Travel, Myth, and Identity

Chapter 19:

Arthur Asa Berger is Professor Emeritus of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts at San Francisco State University. He is the author of more than one hundred articles and eighty books on media, communication, popular culture, semiotics, humor and tourism. He was a Fulbright Professor at the University of Milan in 1963, Visiting Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in 1983-84, and has lectured in many foreign universities in countries such as Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France, Argentina, Laos, Mexico, Turkey and England.

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title
Searching for a Self: Identity in Popular Culture, Media and Society
Physical size
236mm x 160mm
Publication date
March 2022