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Identity formation in contemporary society : the influence of the media on the formation of identity.

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This qualitative study explores identity formation in contemporary society, through investigating the influence of the media on identity formation. The focus is on identity and what people attribute from the media as defining their view of themselves and their world. Seven people aged 25 to 35 years participated in individual, semi-structured interviews, specifically focusing on the participants’ media usage in their leisure time. The analysis revealed that the participants’ tendency to position themselves as agents that were immune to the media’s influence was reflective of the ideological discourse of the ‘self-contained’ individual. Evidently, the participants were unaware of the way(s) in which they had been interpellated to behave as subjects of an individual kind. The prevailing ideological discourse of individualism was challenged by highlighting the contradictions in the participants’ accounts. The analysis further confirmed that identity formation is a dynamic and contradictory process, and unavoidably shaped (even constituted by) history, culture, politics, and ideology.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2009.


Mass media--Social aspects., Identity (Psychology) and mass media., Theses--Psychology.