When Mitch met with Julian a week after the “bathroom graffiti incident” he asked him to verbally list the different spaces and relationships “he must negotiate each day”. In response, Julian listed people and places such as home, mom, the bus, the school hallway, academic classes, and teachers. Following this, he was given another task, to write this list down and explain what he believed each environment and individual listed expected of him. This process of listing and illustrating different environments and relationships and their centrality to an individual’s life is known as context mapping; in the meeting between Mitch and Julian this contextual tool was used to further analyze Julian’s relationship with different environments and people in his life and to evaluate how these diverse relationships have affected his identity development.
My Own Context Map
After criticizing some of the concepts described in Erickson’s fifth developmental stage—identity versus role confusion—James Marcia developed his own identity theory, the identity status theory. With his theory Marcia introduced four identity statuses, foreclosed identity, diffuse identity, identity moratorium, and achieved identity.
Foreclosed Identity: When a person chooses an identity without much though or experimentation of other life directions, the person is said to be in a status of foreclosure. People can be forced into foreclosure by their environment or by family members or other significant individuals in the person’s life. For example, someone might choose a certain vocation because of a lack of professional opportunities in his or her town, or a parent might want their child to follow in their footsteps and choose the profession they had. People can also become foreclosed because of their own need to fit in or a lack of interest of exploring other opportunities. In all cases foreclosed individuals chose an identity course without much question and maintain this identity in all contexts.
Diffuse identity: In contrast to foreclose identity individuals with a diffuse identity do not adhere to any life direction but continuously change their identity preferences depending on the context. Because of their lack of identity alliance these individuals tend to be easily influenced by others and tend to constantly change their beliefs and opinions to fit in with others. In the case above, Julian acted differently depending on the environment and people he was surrounded by. When he was with his parents he was studious and well-behaved, with his friends he was social but never showed his real personality, and with Antwon he was rebellious and tried to impress him. Julian is perfect example of a person with a diffused identity status.
Moratorium: Identity Moratorium is the penultimate step, and is the crisis that precedes identity achievement. Individuals in this phase tend to be in a constant state of experimentation by continuously trying and changing beliefs, behaviors, relationships, roles and directions. However, the individual experiments without never committing to any one identity. Therefore, this is period is for conducting trials only. When I first started college, I was sure that I wanted to study art; however, after a couple of semesters I decided that working with children was more my forte and switched to teaching. Nevertheless, after experiencing some disappointments with this major I made my final change and switched to youth development, where I finally found my home. My constant change and experimentation during this time is an example of identity moratorium.
Achieved Identity: This is the final step of Marcia’s Identity Theory, in which the individual finds the answer to the question “who am I?” After experiencing crisis and constant changes from the preceding stage the person is ready to decide on a path and identity that would be constant in any context. It is important to understand, however, that even though this is the final phase it should not be thought of as the end. People are continuously evolving and experiences can help a person reconfigure their previously-developed identity or change it to the degree that the person must start the process all over again.