Self-Identity Change and the Role Transition Process

  • Ehor O. Boyanowsky
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 23)


The course of human life is marked by a vast number of role transitions. Many transitions are regarded as status promotions. Status is enhanced when a child enters primary school, thus acquiring formal rights and obligations for perhaps the first time, or when a youth completes a rigorous training course permitting him or her to wield a weapon and engage in war. Also, a role transition occurs when a person marries, thereby changing one’s relationship with the partner, with the community and, in some instances, with God. When the individual assumes the appropriate self-identity, for instance that of conscientious student, obedient soldier or devoted spouse he or she is regarded as well-adjusted. When a problem arises, as in the case of the disruptive, inattentive first-grader, the cowardly, disobedient private or the irresponsible husband, two explanations are considered. First, perhaps the preparation for the new role was inadequate. Thus, the role transition process itself (e.g., kindergarten, boot camp, etc.) may not have been effective and, as a consequence, internalization of the congruent self-identity did not occur. In instances where the ceremonies appear to work for the majority, resistance to assumption of the congruent self-identity on the part of a given individual is labeled as deviant and a constitutional inference of inadequacy or pathology is made.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Argyle, M.Religious behavior. London: Routledge, 1958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aronson, E. The theory of cognitive dissonance: A current perspective. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.),Advances in experimental social psychology(vol. 4 ). New York: Academic Press, 1969. Pp. 1 – 34.Google Scholar
  3. Aronson, E., & Mills, J. The effects of severity of initiation on liking for the group.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1959,59, 177 – 181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cannon, W.B. Voodoo death.American Anthropologist, 1942,44, 169 – 181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Engel, G.G. Sudden and rapid death during psychological stress.Annals of Internal Medicine, 1971,74, 771 – 782.Google Scholar
  6. Festinger, L.A theory of cognitive dissonance. Evanston, 111.: Row, Peterson, 1957.Google Scholar
  7. Garfinkel, H. Conditions of successful degradation ceremonies.American Journal of Sociology, 1956,61, 420 – 424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Goffman, E. The presentation of self in everyday life.New York: Doubleday, 1959 Google Scholar
  9. Hinkle, L.E., & Wolff, H.G. Communist interrogation and indoctrination of “enemies of the state.”A.M.A. Archives of Neurological Psychiatry, 1956,76, 115 – 174.Google Scholar
  10. Jilek, W. Salish Indian mental health and culture change: Psychohygienic and therapeutic aspects of the guardian spirit ceremonial.Toronto: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1974 Google Scholar
  11. Kurtzberg, R.L., Mandell, W., Lewin, M., Lipton, D.S., & Shuster, M. Plastic surgery on offenders. In N. Johnston & L. Savitz (Eds.),Justice and corrections. Toronto: Wiley, 1978. Pp. 688 – 700.Google Scholar
  12. Lewison, E. Twenty years of prison surgery: An evaluation.Canadian Journal of Otolaryngology, 1974,3, 42 – 50.Google Scholar
  13. McGuffin, J.The guinea pig. London: Penguin, 1975.Google Scholar
  14. Ridington, J. The transition process: A feminist environment as reconstitutive milieu.Victimology, 1977,2, 563 – 575.Google Scholar
  15. Sarbin, T.R., & Allen, V.L. Role theory. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.),The handbook of social psychology(Vol. 1 ). Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1968. Pp. 488 – 567.Google Scholar
  16. Sargant, W.Battle for the mind. London: Heinemann, 1957.Google Scholar
  17. Seligman, M.E. Giving up on life.Psychology Today, 1974,8, 81 – 85.Google Scholar
  18. Selye, M., & Fortier, C. Adaptive reactions to stress.Psychosomatic Medicine, 1950,12, 149 - 155.Google Scholar
  19. Shallice, T. The Ulster depth interrogation techniques and their relation to sensory deprivation research.Cognition, 1972,1, 385 – 405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sheehy, G.Passages. New York: Dutton, 1976.Google Scholar
  21. Strauss, M. Sexual inequality, cultural norms, and wife-beating. In J.R. Chapman & M. Gates (Eds.),Women into wives: The legal and economic impact of marriage. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage, 1977. Pp. 59 – 77.Google Scholar
  22. Van Gennep, A.Les rites de passage. Paris: Ferme, 1909.Google Scholar
  23. Vizedom, M. Rites and relationships: Rite of passage and contemporary anthropology.Sage Research Paper in the Social Sciences1976,41–63. (Series No: 90-027)Google Scholar
  24. Waites, E. Female masochism and the enforced restriction of choice.Victimology, 1977,2, 535 – 544.Google Scholar
  25. Walker, L. Battered women and learned helplessness.Victimology, 1977,2, 525 – 534.Google Scholar
  26. Wallace, A.F.C.Religion. New York: London House, 1966.Google Scholar
  27. Whiting, J.M., Kluckhohn, R., & Anthony, A. The function of male initiation ceremonies at puberty. In E.E. Maccoby, T.M. Newcomb, & E.L. Hartley (Eds.),Readings in social psychology(3rd. ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1958. Pp. 359 – 370.Google Scholar
  28. Young, F.W.Initiation ceremonies. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ehor O. Boyanowsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversityCanada

Personalised recommendations