Social life has great impact on the identity formation of groups and individuals. It is from society that people receive validation for the identities they wish to convey. Typically, individuals have freedom to adopt multiple identities, for different social contexts demand different behaviors. However, there are some places where individuals are restricted to one common identity by authorities. Erving Goffman defines such a location as a total institution. Although Goffman's theory adequately describes the circumstances in the asylum he observed, it is not as applicable to other cases that should theoretically match Goffman's description. This article will address the problem of inapplicability through a theory elaboration of Goffman's definition of total institutions. For this elaboration, two different cases that apply to Goffman's five types of total institutions will be examined: Navy SEAL training and the Amish lifestyle. These analyses will demonstrate where the theory is lacking. After the weak spots are found, improvements to the theory can be made.
"Confined Identity: Reexamining Total Institutions,"
Augsburg Honors Review: Vol. 6
, Article 15.
Available at: https://idun.augsburg.edu/honors_review/vol6/iss1/15