Let us have look on "What is collective identity?" - In a field of study that is referred to as the ‘social sciences’, collective identity refers to the sense of ‘we-ness’ that is experienced as a shared sense. If you are looking at this from an outsider’s perspective then you could say that the occupy group(s) share an identity fighting the same cause with the same goals in mind. They are all passionate players in their role as activists. Since much of this deals with different methods in psychology, we will apply some of the more basic and fundamental categories to determine collective identity.
Social theories around collective identity often direct their theories around groups that present dangerous or (for psychoanalysts) exciting opportunities to find out what type of process a person goes through to be part of certain groups. Whether a group is actually dangerous or not is not so much the point but the sacrifices that one makes to be a part of them is very interesting in that individuals may give up their own identities for those offered through collective identity and building from there. Whether it is religion or a gang, it can be determined that many will willingly give up their own identities because they want to fit in - to be a part of the group.
Collective identity is formed through early childhood development. The family structure is a pre-existing environment that the child learns from and is able to develop social skills through this environment. Since people are social creatures (if you don’t already hear that enough), there are always pre-existing environments that consist of like-minded persons who engage in perhaps similar activities that a developing child will take notice of and continue to develop their social skills outside of the home. This is usually no cause for alarm as it is important in social development for them to be able to develop these skills and learn to manage them. It is this kind of collective identity that describes the development of an individual through group identities. They learn to assemble and accept certain things through them to help create their character, their tastes and their overall personality.
Other fields of social sciences that refer to the study of collective identity help to answer the question, “what is collective identity”, around the psychology of the collective or rather, group.
In cases like this the like-minded collective is essential for social movements. Much of this is because the same goals are the focus and relationships are built around these efforts. Social theorists such as Alberto Melucci refer to three common steps in this process; Cognitive Definitions - the formulation of a cognitive framework, Active Relationship - The activation of relationships among participants and Emotional Investments - emotional recognition between individuals.
A very interesting theory was developed by Joseph Jordania around the evolution of collective identity and why it is. He states that the strength by groups of humans helped us to survive against predators. The altered states of consciousness are achieved as a whole group with no question as to why and helps to remove the fear and even pain. This was also important during group rituals where transcendence was achieved when everyone attempted to connect neurologically with rhythm during dance and song. If you have ever seen the movie ‘The Grey’, where a group of oil drillers has to fight off hungry wolves and group up to survive, that is one more current and philosophical example in a film.
These are different thoughts on collective identity concerning where it is used and it evolutionary theories. All of these are based off of proven studies and there is no debate on the fact that we engage in collective identity as a way to form our own individual identities from the very beginning of our lives. Whether it is also for the purposes of survival or simply around an idea, we are willing to be a part of a collective identity in one form or another.