Self-identity and late-modern society

This course is not offered for study in the current academic year.

Course description

This course traces the rise of the notion of self-identity in the modern era and follows it through to contemporary times. Various notions of identity and their relationships will be discussed: personal identity, social identity, cultural identity, collective identity, national identity, etc. We will explore the changing experiences and meanings of collective and personal identities in late modern culture in domains such as work, family, new media, society, and the nation.

We pay particular attention to the emergence of various contemporary identities in relation to the changing forces in late modern society. This will enable us to rethink the distinction between the public and the private, explore the social construction of the life course, the notion of cultural identity, the relationship between identity and creativity, and the dynamics of identity politics and new social movements in terms of age, body, class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and more.

The focus is on contemporary Hong Kong and Chinese experiences as well as other cities in the Asia/Pacific region.

Course learning outcomes

On completing the course, students should be able to:

  1. Explain the dynamics of culture and identity with sociological debates and theories. (PLO1,3,4,6)
  2. Understand contemporary cases of identity in the Asia/Pacific region. (PLO1,4,6)
  3. Expand the grasp of culture and identity by engaging in course exercises and projects. (PLO2,6)
  4. Reflect on their own construction of the personal narrative of identity. (PLO6)

*PLO: Programme Learning Outcome – MSocSc(MCCC)


Participation and class discussion15%
Group presentation20%
Individual essay25%
Individual project40%

Required reading

Lawler, S. 2014. Identity: Sociological Perspectives (2/e). Cambridge: Polity.

Elliott, A. ed. 2011. Routledge Handbook of Identity Studies. New York: Routledge.

Course co-ordinator and teachers