Identity and Culture Essay

Identity and Culture Essay

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When we think about our identity we often think about the way we look. Such features as hair color, eye color, skin tone, height and weight come to mind. Whilst these features are part of our identity, there are many more complex factors that make us who we are. Whilst psychological issues are paramount to the formation of our identity, I will be addressing the nature of our identity in relation to socio-cultural factors (Austin, 2002, p.9). During the course of this essay I will be discussing the term of Identity and some of the axes of identity, including Race, Class and Gender. It is important to understand some of the significant issues of identity so that we have more of an understanding of who and what we are, which in turn may help us to begin to better understand others.

Identity

The New English Dictionary (1999) defines identity as "the distinguishing characteristics of a person." Our identity makes us who and what we are. It could be described as a sense of belonging and about having things in common with others (Weeks, 1990, cited in Austin, 2002, p.1).

"Identity is a dynamic feature of social life. That is, it is something that is constantly evolving and changing. For some people, identity can change rapidly and dramatically, of course, but for most of us our identities evolve slowly and imperceptibly" (Livesey, n.d., p.1).

There are many factors to consider in understanding the process of identity formation. Structuralists believe that we are the product of our society. Therefore there are many environmental and social factors that go into the formation of an identity. For example children that grow up in the bush will have different influences in their lives to children that grow up in the cit...


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...d.). "A" Level Sociology, Teaching Notes for Students. Culture and Identity, 6. Sources of Identity. World Wide Web: http://freespace.virgin.net/chris.livesey/cculture.htm [2002, July, 24].

Márquez, C (1999). Empowering Chicanos Through Self-identity. Faculty Mentor: Olga Vasquez, Ph.D., Department of Communication. World Wide Web: http://www.communication.ucsd.edu/LCM/ectsi.html [30 July, 2002].

Weeks, J. (1990). The value of difference. In J. Austin (Ed.), Culture & Identity (pp.1-3). NSW: Pearson Education Australia.

Woolfolk, A.E. (1998). Educational Psychology. Seventh Edition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

McDonald, Kevin (2000). Pressing Questions: explorations in sociology. Issue two. Pearson Education Australia Pty Ltd.

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