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Toward an Economic Theory of Dysfunctional Identity

Hanming Fang () and Glenn Loury

No dp-146, Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series from Boston University - Department of Economics

Abstract: We advance a novel choice-theoretic model of “identity” based on the notions of categories and narratives. Identity is conceived as a matter of “reflexive perception” — how people understand themselves. Choosing an identity is equivalent to making a generalization about one’s past that highlights the most salient aspects of experience. When many individuals make a common choice in this regard, they embrace a collective identity which is dysfunctional if it is Pareto dominated by an alternative self-classificatory schema. Using a simple multi-stage risk sharing game, we explore conditions under which dysfunctional collective identities might be expected to emerge.

Keywords: Identity:; dysfunctional; collective; identity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Z1 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 47 pages
Date: 2004-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo and nep-hpe
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