The Biological Basis of Performativity of Identity - Linking Scientific Evidence to Social Theory

Godwin Roger Constantine


Identity is the essence of performance and performance is the essence of identity. Without identity our performance does not assume any cultural significance.  Our relative identity allows our performance to be located in the socio-cultural space. Our identity forms the foundation for the discursive significance of our performance. However, our identity is not unique, it is established by performing a pre-existing script. The biological basis of identity can be understood by applying learning theories and by analyzing how these leant behavior is embedded in our neuronal network in the brain and how these behavior patterns are controlled by psychological factors to result in the identity we observe.  Recent developments in the fields of neuroscience and functional neuro imaging have enabled us to study objectively the process of neural mechanisms and map areas of brain that are involved in learning various behavior patterns. These neuronal networks and the neuro transmitters play a key role in memory and behavior of animals. Aby studying the particular pattern of behavior and the brain area that mediates that behavior it will be possible to determine neuronal networks that control core identity characteristics and that control other less important characteristics. With the emergence of studies in neuroplasticity the possibility of relearning behaviors through new neuronal pathways may open new avenues to treat conditions that affect identity. Understanding the biological basis of identity will lead to widening of research area and better understanding of the concept.


Identity, Performativity, Performance, Neuronal network, functional neuro-imaging, biology of identity.

Full Text:



Ahmed, M. (2016). Ethnicity, identity and group vitality: A study of Burushos of Srinagar. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, (3)1, 1-10.

Bailey, C. H., Kandel, E. R., & Harris, K. M. (2015). Structural components of synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 7(7). doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a021758.

Bandura, A. (1971). Social learning theory. New York: General Learning Press.

Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S.A. (1961). Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, 575-582.

Baumeister, R.F. (1999). The self in social psychology. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press at Taylor & Francis.

Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity. London: Sage Publication.

Blascovich, J., Wyer, N., Swart, L., & Kibler, J. (1997). Racism and racial categorization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (72)6, 1364–1372.

Bloche, M. G. (2004). Race-based therapeutics. New England Journal of Medicine. 351, 2035-2037.

Bracher, M. (1994). On the psychological and social function of language: Lacan’s Theory of the Four Discourses. In Bracher, M., Alcorn, M. W., Corthell, R. J., & Massardier-Kenney, F. (Eds.), Lacanian Theory of Discourse. (pp 107 -128). New York, NY: University Press.

Brewer, M. (1991) The social self – On being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 475-482.

Brewer, M. (2001) Ingroup identification and intergroup conflict: When does ingroup love become outgroup hate? In Ashmore, R. D., Jussim, L., & Wilderet, D. (Eds.), Rutgers series on self and social identity; Social identity, intergroup conflict, and conflict reduction (pp. 17-41). New York: Oxford University Press.

Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.

Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of "sex". New York: Routledge.

Byker, E. J., & Marquardt, S. K. (2016). Using critical cosmopolitanism to globally situate: Multicultural education in teacher preparation courses. Journal of Social Studies Education Research, 7(2), 30-50.

Campos, C., Santos, S., Gagen, E., Machado, S., Rocha, S., Kurtz, M. M.,& Rocha, N. B. (2016). Neuroplastic changes following social cognition training in schizophrenia: A systematic review. Neuropsychology Review, 26(3), 310-328.

Cooper, S. J. (2005). Donald O. Hebb's synapse and learning rule: A history and commentary. Neurosciences & Biobehavioral Review, 28(8), 851-74.

Damgacı, F. K., & Aydın, H. (2013). Türkiye’deki Eğitim Fakültelerinde Görev Yapan Akademisyenlerin Çokkültürlü Eğitime İlişkin Görüşleri. Dicle Üniversitesi Ziya Gökalp Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 21(2), 314-331.

Foucault, M. (1970). The order of things. p XIV. London: Navistock.

Frith. C. (2008). Social cognition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363(1499), 2033–2039.

Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Haraway, D. (1991). Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. In D. Haraway (Ed.), Simian, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature. (pp 183-202) New York: Routledge.

Hauskeller, C., Sturdy, S., & Tutton, R. (2013). Genetics and the sociology of identity. Sociology, 47(5), 875-886.

Imperato-McGinley, J., Peterson, R. E., Gautier, T., & Sturla, E. (1979). Androgens and the evolution of male-gender identity among male pseudohermaphrodites with 5alpha-reductase deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine, 300(22), 1233-1237.

Kiang, L. (2014). Ethnicity and ethnic identity in context. Human Development, 57, 213-221.

Lawrence, A. A. (2007). A critique of the Brain-Sex Theory of Transsexualism [Web log post]. Retrieved from, Accessed 23 October 2017.

McAdams, D. (1995). What do we know when we know a person? Journal of Personality, 63, 365-396.

Milner, P. M. (1993). The mind and Donald O. Hebb. Scientific American, 268(1), 124-129.

Mountain, J. L, & Risch, N. (2004). Assessing genetic contributions to phenotypic differences among 'racial' and 'ethnic' groups. Nature Genetics, 36 (Suppl 11), S48–S53.

Nietzsche, F. (1887). On the Genealogy of Morals (Zur Genealogie der Moral), trans. (1996) Douglas Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ochsner, K. N., & Lieberman. (2001). The emergence of social cognitive neuroscience. American Psychologist, 56(9), 717-734.

Owens.T. J., Robinson, D. T, & Smith-Lovin, L. (2010). Three faces of identity. Annual Review of Sociology, 36, 477-499.

Oyerman, D., Elmore, K., & Smit, G. (2012). Self, self-concept, and identity. In M. R. Leary & J. P. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of self and identity (2nd ed.) (p. 76). New York, NY: Guilford Press,

Oyserman, D. (2007). Social identity and self-regulation. In A. W. Kruglanski & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principle. (2nd ed.) (pp. 432-453). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Pol. H., Cohen-Kettenis, P.T., Van Haren, N. E., Peper, J. S., Brans, R. G., & Cahn, W. (2006). Changing your sex changes your brain: Influences of testosterone and estrogen on adult human brain structure. European Journal of Endocrinology, 155, 107-114.

Ramarajan. L. (2014). Past, present and future research on multiple identities: Toward an intrapersonal network approach. The Academy of Management Annals, 8(1), 589–659.

Redman, P. (2000). Introduction. In P. du Gay, J. Evans, & P. Redman (Eds.), Identity: a reader (pp. 1-10) London: Sage.

Shibasaki, H. (2008). Human brain mapping: hemodynamic response and electrophysiology. Clinical Neurophysiology, 119(4), 731-743.

Stapel, D. A., & Koomen, W. (2001). I, we, and the effects of others on me: How self-construal level moderates’ social comparison effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 766-781.

Stryker, S. (1980). Symbolic interactionism: A social structural version. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin–Cummings.

Swann, W. B., Gómez A, Seyle, D. C, Morales, J. F., & Huici, C. (2009). Identity fusion: The interplay of personal and social identities in extreme group behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(5), 995–1011.

Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. (2004). The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior. In J. T. Jost & J. Sidanius (Eds.), Key readings in social psychology. Political psychology: Key readings, (pp. 276-293) New York: Psychology Press.

Tarman, B. (2017). Editorial: The Future of Social Sciences. Research in Social Sciences and Technology, 2(2). Retrieved from

Telesford, Q. K, Ashourvan, A., & Wymbs, N. F. (2017). Cohesive network reconfiguration accompanies extended training. Human Brain Mapping, 38(9), 4744–4759.

Ugurlu, O. (2014). Identity formation and community organization among Kurdish diaspora in London1. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 1(1), 22-34.

Yiğit, M. F., & Tarman, B. (2016). How do different ethnicities approach to the education system and differences in Turkey? Italian Sociological Review, (6)3, 339-353.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies  E-ISSN: 2149-1291

Copyright © JECS Publishing Inc.

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.


doaj_logo_new_120   EBSCO_logo_new_120