Towards a Personal Identity Argument to Combine Potentially Conflicting Social Identities

14 Pages Posted: 3 May 2014

Date Written: March 1, 2014


Despite the boom in research on identity in economics, the question of how to depict personal identity in a fashion that combines potentially conflicting social identities has so far been largely ignored. This paper introduces a framework that relies on the structure of the social realm that is exogenous to the individual in order to depict investment decisions as per social identities in a way that is consistent with the individual’s personal identity. The structure of the environment is identified using organizational boundaries and identity production functions are used to combine social identities. The inclusion of the various social spaces that are relevant to personal identity strategies enables one to simultaneously study identification strategies and individuation strategies. It also allows the depiction of social identities that may be conflicting, due to different social commitments and/or norm valuations. This externalist conception of the identity helps discuss the limitations of the conceptions of identity that have been internalist so far and accounts for the heterogeneity of identity strategies across individuals.

Keywords: personal identity, individuation, organizational boundaries, developmental psychology, narratives

JEL Classification: B4, D03, D23, Z13

Suggested Citation

Boulu-Reshef, Béatrice, Towards a Personal Identity Argument to Combine Potentially Conflicting Social Identities (March 1, 2014). Darden Business School Working Paper No. 2431998, Available at SSRN: or

Béatrice Boulu-Reshef (Contact Author)

Université d'Orléans ( email )

Rue de Blois
Orléans, 45000


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