Social Identity Construction: Experiences of Teenage Students with Physical Disabilities in Pakistan Society for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Social Identity Construction
Social identity is considered a dynamic and life-changing process. Individuals with physical disabilities learn and adapt to their environment. Their experiences help them cope with disability and in the development of their social identity. This research has been pursued with qualitative research design, and its underpinning lies in epistemological constructivism, where individuals give specific meaning to their experiences to understand social reality. Two theories have been used in the theoretical framework of this research: social identity theory and the looking-glass-self theory. This research strived to understand the phenomenon of social identity and how it affected individuals with physical disabilities in their lives.20 participants between the ages of 12 to 18 years were interviewed. The rationale for selecting this specific group was to understand the concept of self at the initial stages as it would grow as they grow up. This study was conducted at the Pakistan Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (PSRD) in Lahore. The data was collected through in-depth interviews which were recorded and transcribed to gain insights. Three themes emerged from the interviews: experiences and views regarding one’s social identity, the role and influence of educational institutions and the environment of said institutions, and the role and influence of vocational skills in identity construction. The results of this research showed that the role of educational institutions, the environment of institutions, and the vocational training of the individuals played a substantial role in shaping their social identity. Respondents described how their self-actualization experiences, educational institutions, and vocational training helped them to construct identity.