Summer School

2nd Annual Interdisciplinary Summer School, October 2019 in Casablanca, Morocco
Theme: Identity in Transition
Carried out in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Stiftung

The construct of “identity” has been examined by researchers in diverse fields of social science including psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology, philosophy, and in related, applied fields of ethics, management, organizational behavior, and consumer psychology. Not surprisingly, an individual’s identity has been conceptualized from different perspectives, prominent among them being role identity (e.g., Stryker 1980, Stryker and Burke 2000), social identity (e.g., Hogg 1987, Tajfel 1982), and cultural identity (e.g., Calhoun 1994, Triandis 1989). In each of these research streams, there arises the intriguing question of what happens when one’s identity is in transition. What happens when one’s role identity is in transition (e.g., when one transitions from the role of a student to an entrepreneur / founder, or from the role of a doctoral student to a professor), when one’s social identity is in transition (e.g., from an ingroup member to an outgroup member, when one transitions from a lower socioeconomic class to a higher one), or when one’s cultural identity is in transition (e.g., when moving to a new country or culture – see Sussman 2000, Mehta and Belk 1991, or when moving from a traditional, conservative culture to a modern, liberal culture)?

Our Summer School workshop attracted two groups of participants – Doctoral (PhD) students and advanced Masters students – whose research relates to aspects of identity in transition. Given the broad appeal of “identity” research in multiple social science disciplines, we encourage candidates from diverse fields to apply to the workshop and benefit from a stimulating, interdisciplinary exchange of research ideas and approaches. It also seeks through this interdisciplinary dialogue to practically support participants to reflexively take stock of their emerging personal identity and explore ways of aligning this better to their professional identity choices.

Research examining how individuals, organizations and societies experience, respond to and engage in the process when their identity is in transition is of particular interest in this regard. What elements of their existing ‘self’ do they employ when making the transition? How is the notion of ‘self’, ‘I’, ‘We’ redefined given the myriad of social, economic, political and environmental conditions that ignite such identity transitions. And whilst transition can be a stressful experience, it can also be transformative and positively affirm a new role/social/cultural identity. What are the individual and situational characteristics that enable or impair the transition? How are transformations experienced, supported and how can this ongoing process of renewal be reconceptualized? What is the role of axiology (one’s perceptions, principles and values – axies) in fostering renewal?

Moreover, reasearch examining the role that practical wisdom gained from an individual’s philosophical, religious or spiritual tradition, and is part of an individual’s identity, plays in identity transition is encouraged. Researchers have argued that practical wisdom is akin to a master virtue essential to solving problems (Schwartz and Sharpe 2006), is positively correlated to leadership and social initiative (Wink and Helson 1997), and provides grounding in turbulent times (Bachmann, Habisch and Dierksmeier 2016; Habisch and Bachmann 2018; Naughton, Habisch and Lenssen 2010). Therefore, research that examines how practical wisdom and an individual’s philosophical, religious or spiritual tradition affect identity transition can add valuable insights to the theme of the Summer School workshop.

The summer school featured plenary research sessions conducted by Professors Elena Antonacopoulou, André Habisch, Shashi Matta, and Kosheek Sewchurran, 22 research presentations by student attendees from 13 countries, interactive sessions with visiting executives, and culturally immersive activities. One of the primary objectives of the summer school is to facilitate learning from diverse research perspectives on “identity” and to provide a vibrant and engaging environment that inspires PhD students to develop and present their own research ideas.