This book brings together an international selection of prominent researchers at the forefront of this development. They reflect on the issue of individuality in the group and on how thinking about social identity has changed. Together, these chapters chart a key development in the field: how social identity perspectives inform understanding of cohesion, unity and collective action, but also how they help us understand individuality, agency, autonomy, disagreement, and diversity within groups.

Introduction: The Puzzle of Individuality and the Group

Introduction: The puzzle of individuality and the group
JolandaJetten and TomPostmes

How can we combine that degree of individual initiative which is necessary for progress with the degree of social cohesion that is necessary for survival? (Russell, 1949, p. 11)

The start of Bertrand Russell's 1949 book Authority and the individual (the text of the first BBC Reith Lecture) is a familiar question. Russell was certainly not the first to ponder about the relationship between the individual and the collective, and his question reflects a classic dichotomy that runs through the social sciences: the distinction between individual and collective interest. Before Russell, many philosophers struggled with this issue, and many had taken the view (like him) that there is a ...

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