identity work is always collective

Note to self: Remember that the work of identity construction for any given individual is always collective. One’s identity is not the product of the identity-bearer’s labor only, but is also the product of those whose work sustains institutions and expressive codes and everything else that contributes to substantiating and expressing identity.

One’s personal immaterial labor of identity construction is not sufficient to make an identity. Identity for any given person is made also by forces outside of one’s control, directed by others in the service of goals other than that person’s self-knowledge. The work processes that make identity are multiple; identity is a combined and uneven form. The concept of identity, like labor itself, is a real abstraction, a moving target, a term simplified along ideological grounds that expresses a complex and inchoate blend of inputs.

Lots of builders of a given identity, but we are only authorized to acknowledge one.

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