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Keywords:

  • identity theory;
  • identity practices;
  • collective identity

Recent critiques of the identity literature have bemoaned the lack of clarity in conceptualizations of identity. R. W. Connell's (1987) theory of practice and Dorothy Smith's (1987, pp. 88–97) notion of “the everyday as problematic” provide the foundation for articulating the construct of identity practices. Identity practices refer to the routine actions and ways of thinking, as well as the representations of those acts and thoughts, that enable people to claim collective identities. Although identity practices mark group membership, they also signal marginality to or exclusion from other groups. This paper explores the importance of understanding identity practices at micro levels of interaction as well as macro-level structures and dominant culture narratives. The specific empirical focus—on German Jewish immigrants who fled Nazi Germany and arrived in the United States by 1945—enables an interrogation of the meanings associated with national identity practices.