Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Who Do We Think We Are: The Question of Identity! (Basics Notes)

Author: Durr-e-Nayab

Who do we think we are? What is our identity? The PIDE-BASICS Survey shows that these seemingly straightforward questions elicit very complex responses. The perception of identity cross-cuts many of the factors we are focussing in BASICS. It is a self-image that is both the cause and the consequence of a person’s beliefs, attitudes and social capital. It is the ‘feeling of we’, the feeling of in-group with those having the same characteristic(s) that we think define us. Identity “refers to the ways in which individuals and collectivities are distinguished in their social relations with other individuals and collectivities” (Jenkins, 1996). * How we socially interact, the people we trust, the vibrancy of communities and the way they are formed and function draw a lot on our sense of identity. So what is the identity of those living within the boundaries of Pakistan? The PIDE-BASICS Survey shows that identity is a social construct, as it does not merely stem from the ascribed characteristics. Identity, the findings show, is based on some distinguishable characteristic(s) which are socially consequential as well. Social capital’s notions of binding and bonding (see BASICS Notes 2) are linked to how the idea of identity is constructed.


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