In ‘Debating Identity’, During’s main aim is to address the notion of identity, and outline the concept of identity politics. During’s analysis of identity is not aimed at the field of media directly, but can however, be related to the concepts of media usage, particularly, how each one of us, creates and upholds our identity through our media usages and rituals.
During outlines the idea of identity as “who somebody is in terms of a trait”. During explains that what determines somebody’s identity however, is not always in their choosing, rather “determined socially, from the outside”. Obviously, identity is formed by race, gender and ethnicity, but they are not limited to such boundaries. According to During, “identities are partial”, in that spaces are left outside of themselves that allow for concepts of identity unique to each individual, regardless of profile. These identities form the practices of our media usage, and ultimately, our media usage determines our identity, whether through what TV shows we watch, what games we play, or what music we listen to.
Further, During analyzes the concept of identity politics, which he defines as “a politics engaged on behalf of those with particular identities”. Identity politics is fulled by desire to correct struggle by identity groups, asserting their needs and wants, and ensuring equality is experienced by all, regardless of identity. Further, a desire for recognition is also a main factor in identity politics, as certain identity minority groups may want to broadcast themselves to the greater public. This aligns with the patterns of media usage, as this ‘recognition’ may come about through means of broadcast media or other mediums.
Lastly, During explores the concept of hybridity to exemplify how identity is relevant to the study of media. Hybridity is explained as a concept that incorporates the numerous identities an individual or group may have. As mentioned before, we are not restricted to one single identity. This of course relates to media, in that while we may be born with one certain identity, our patterns of media may allow for hybridity to occur, and thus give us multiple identities to relate to.
Ultimately, During’s article exemplifies the relevance and importance of concepts outside of media studies to further our knowledge of media. His analysis of identity effectively demonstrates the influence of everyday life on media, and in turn, the influence of media on everyday life.
During, Simon. “Debating Identity” In Cultural Studies: a Critical Introduction, Routledge: London, 2005, 145-152.