What Is Real about “Real Time” Anyway? A Proposal for A Pluralistic Approach to Studying Identity Processes across Different Timescales

Naomi de Ruiter*, Ole Gmelin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Recently, there has been a growing emphasis on the fact that an understanding of identity development requires the study of real-time identity. But what exactly constitutes ‘real-time identity’? In this manuscript, we highlight that definitions of real time are often fuzzy, which poses a threat to this research field. We discuss two conceptual issues of research on ‘real-time identity’ that we believe require further clarification. The first is that ‘real-time identity’ is often conflated with ‘micro-level identity’. The second is that ‘micro-level identity’ is pitted against ‘macro-level identity’. We attempt to bring clarification to the above issues by drawing attention to three conceptual points: Firstly, we stress that ‘real-time’ simply refers to “the actual time during which something takes place“. Secondly, researchers can study static characteristics of identity phenomena in real time or they can study dynamics of change and development in real time. Thirdly, we draw attention to the fact that the terms ‘micro-level’ and ‘macro-level’ represent two ends of a time-scale continuum. We describe these points in depth and summarize our clarifications as a taxonomy for authors interested in studying ‘real-time identity’, which promises to support theoretical and empirical integration between different approaches to identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-308
Number of pages20
JournalIdentity: An International Journal of Theory and Research
Volume21
Issue number4
Early online date22-Sep-2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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