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The distinctive metatheoretical and empirical significance of the social identity concept for social psychology is outlined with special reference to social influence and group polarization. ‘Individualism’ and ‘interactionism’ are summarized and contrasted as alternative metatheories of social psychology and it is argued that the social identity concept embodies the latter. A social identity theory of group behaviour (and the individual-group relationship) is introduced and from it are derived further theories of social influence and group polarization. The latter is explained as a special case of normal intragroup influence. It is shown how the social identity theory (theories) of group behaviour, social influence and group polarization explicitly assumes a functional interaction between psychological and social processes, in contrast to individualism, and at the same time generates distinctive, testable, empirical predictions. It is concluded that the social identity concept represents a mechanism of social-psychological interaction and as such demonstrates that social psychology need not be an individualistic science.