"Personal identity was perceived as being challenged through experiences which were felt to be disempowering, dehumanising and devaluing. Gender, class and race differences also emerged in respondents' perceptions of identity threat."
Everyone has a Personal Identity made up of thousands of little pieces. Things like your beliefs, your genes, your gender, your sexual orientation, your political stance, your age, your educational background, your cultural background...
I'm sure you can think of a few more.
All of the parts add up to the magnificent whole which is YOU.
The You then fits into some sort of Social role. For example, a social role can be created when you join a group or become part of a group. Like I became a home educator - tentatively at first and then joyfully and whole-heartedly.
I am also a baby boomer, and a political wanderer in the mix: I don't know where I belong except, because of the events of the last few years and the harassment that I've seen home educators face, I'm inclining toward anarchism as an ethos!
You get the picture I'm sure.
Then come the insults. The You of you is insulted because you know You are an expert (in the truest sense of that word) on your children which then extends to finding out more about the new group you have joined, the home educators. In the past, generally, no one reasonable has ever challenged your beliefs about your children or your role as your children's mentor and guide. You give opinions and dispense rules and justice to your family, and proceed to raise your own offspring.
Until the 'experts' come along, see your child once, and think that they can pronounce on your child and your parenting with impunity. What they say shocks YOU. That is a personal identity shock. They insult You. They exterminate You. They indicate that You are not the power in your child's life and that They are.
The LA inspector tootles along, and you accept a visit. It seems to go all right. Your child talks to the inspector, and the inspector is polite and friendly enough, except he never quite catches your gaze and you see his eyes wandering all over the DVD and video collection in the corner and the fine collection of spiders' homes in the corner where you keep forgetting to clean. Where you live is part of who You are, and where you dwell is being judged. This, then, is another personal identity threat.
Your social self is bound up in the home educating community. Not many friends stay the course when they cannot moan about how horrible their child's school is and have you sympathise because, these days, you're likely to tell them to get their babies out NOW and point them towards an example of a deregistration letter. That puts them into a slight tizzy. They just wanted a bonding bitch, and you confront them with the truth that school is not healthy for their child.
Your old friends dwindle away. You become a card-carrying member of that wild bunch of people called home educators.
The government spreads bull about home educators abusing their children. That leads to social identity shocks as we all absorb the fact that we are being attacked and lied about. We stick close together. We email. We band. We listen to each other. We become politically active.
The shocks don't end. A man reviews home education and calls us names and slings mud which sticks and stones us.
His boss does the same, diverting attention from where attention should be which is squarely on the overworked, underfunded and inadequate social services.
Every time someone tells us that we are not parenting properly, we are being less than our best as parents, we encounter more personal identity shocks and more social identity threats.
On and on it goes...
Little wonder that we are tired. Small wonder that we seethe and rage.
Our very selves are at risk in the onslaughts. Our personal selves and our social selves.
And the government, it's tame charities, it's favoured 'experts' and 'inspectors,' BBC cronies and thickly ignorant members of the public keep on and on taking the PIS.
It's completely shocking.