Social Identities: The Big Fifteen

An individual’ssocial identityindicates who they arein terms of the groups to which they belong.

Race (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color, Caucasian) Ethnicity Religion/Spirituality
Gender (biological: male, female, intersex) Sexual Orientation (LGBTQ+) Sexuality (gender identity)
Asexual (Dis)Ability (mental/physical) Age
Socio-Economic Status/Class Education Profession/Vocation
Nationality (nation(s) of origin/citizenship) Body Size/Type Tribal or Indigenous Affiliation

Social Identity Groupsare based on the physical, social, and mental characteristics of individuals. They are sometimes obvious and clear, sometimes not obvious and unclear, often self-claimed and frequently ascribed by others. For example, racial groupings are often ascribed as well as self-claimed. Government, schools, and employers often ask an individual to claim a racial identity group or simply ascribe one to an individual based on visual perception. Other social identities are personally claimed but not often announced oreasily visually ascribed such as sexual orientation, religion, or disability status.

Below are examples of social identity groups.

(Based on The Program on Intergroup Relations, University of Michigan)

Social Identity Groupings Examples (Feel free to use your own language for your identities.)
Race Asian Pacific Islander, Native American, Latinx, Black, White, Bi/Multiracial
Ethnicity Irish, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Italian, Mohawk, Jewish, Guatemalan, Lebanese, European-American, African-American
Religion or Spirituality Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Pagan, Agnostic, Faith/Meaning, Atheist, Secular Humanist
Sexuality (gender identity) Woman, Man, Transgender, Post-Gender
Sexual Orientation Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pan-Attractional, Heterosexual, Queer, Attractionality, Questioning
Biological sex Intersex, Female, Male
Asexual Having little to no sexual attraction
(Dis)Ability People with disabilities (cognitive, physical, emotional, etc.) Temporarily able-bodied, temporarily disabled
Age Child, Young Adult, Middle-Age Adult, Elderly
Socio-economic status (class) Poor, Working Class, Lower-Middle Class, Upper-Middle Class, Owning Class, Ruling Class
Education High school graduate, college graduate, post-college graduate
Profession (vocation) Lawyer, nurse, educator, college professor, engineer
Nationality United States, Nigeria, Korea, Turkey, Argentina
Body Size/Type Fat, Person of Size, Thin
Tribal or Indigenous Affiliation Mohawk, Aboriginal, Navajo, Santal

Marginalized Group: Social identity groups that are disenfranchised and exploited.

Privileged Group: Social identity groups that hold unearned privileged in society.