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Social Identity: The creative power of groups to improve community well-being

by CIFAR Feb 11 / 16

The inaugural Change Makers dialogue explored how social identity in the context of groups can help to tackle some of the developed world’s toughest social challenges. Three CIFAR fellows – Alexander Haslam and Catherine Haslam, both of the University of Queensland, and Robert Oxoby from the University of Calgary – discussed their ideas in Edmonton, Alberta, on Feb. 5, 2014. They were joined by local community champions Martin Garber-Conrad, chief executive officer of the Edmonton Community Foundation; Allan Undheim, the vice-president for Community Building and Investment at the United Way of Alberta Capital Region; and Franco Savoia, the co-chair of the Alberta Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness and director of Vibrant Communities Calgary.

SOCIAL IDENTITY MATTERS FOR OUR COMMUNITY

Social identity recognizes that humans are social animals and that group memberships play an important role in creating a sense of self and a sense of identity. This social identity allows us to internalize the group – its members are no longer seen as strangers, but as part of ourselves. e social identity created by memberships gives people a sense of purpose and helps maintain good health. It is also the foundation for group behaviour, allowing trust, communication, influence, social connection and solidarity. People with multiple group memberships are more resilient in the face of life changes, and show better mental and physical health.

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