07 April 2008

Elective Outcome # 1 Self and Identity . (Advanced Mastery Endevour)

Explain and examine the concepts of identity and self .

The cultural approach to self and identity begins with that that there is an inverse relationship between self and a society. Self influences a society through actions of individuals, thus creating groups, networks, and establishments. And, mutually, the society influences on self through its shared language and values which allow the person to take a role of another to participate in social interaction, and to reflect over as an object. This process reflexivity is the centre of individuality.

Identity it is often described as a recognition of its person or it is direct as a discrete entity . But, in cultural terms, this definition always incorporates with connection to some kind of group or a category of people is established in the cultural context. Thus, we are teachers and students; we are men and women; we are top, average or the lowest a class; we – collection of various categories of people who exist in our world. In this sense, process of an establishment of these categories, defining, that they mean, and then transfer to their people plays the critical role in terms of, how we come to understand us and our roles in the world.

Anthropological perspective of identity then, should explore the distinctive processes by which categories identity are generated and as people reach to be enclosed to them. We have concentrated on culture as on active process and we understand these categories as identification process instead of seeing these relations between us and identity as static and inevitable. For the majority of us, social interaction is not realized and automatic. We contact other people since time when we are born. The status and roles are the cores to social dialogue. The status addresses to ­categories of various kinds of people which co-operate. The majority of statuses names, thus we as can hear, speak things as, "He is President Ford," or "She is an engineer, or" He is Doctor Freud ”;when we explain social situations to another. This identification ­of actors is the precondition for corresponding social interaction.

Roles - rules for the action connected with especial statuses. We use them to interpret and generate social behavior. For example, the professor plays a role in a class room. Though, frequently we do not feel this role, the professor will stand, use a board, to give remarks, and to speak in little bit more formal expressions than usually. The professor does not drink beer during a lesson and does not use “rigid expressions”. These ­actions are inappropriate in a class room.

Most interaction is between persons who occupy positions (statuses) in groups or organisations in society. Interaction between people occurs thus to the account of their roles and memberships in especial groups or devices: their identities. As a parent, we speak with our children. As the spouse, we speak with the partner. As a member of an organisation we speak with the employer. An assumption and implication of the above is that any identity is always related to a corresponding counter-identity

People also belong to groups. Social groups - the organized groups of individuals. Social groups have some signs. People, who belong to them usually, recognize ­the collective membership and divide the group purposes. Groups also are organized internally to a certain extent. At last, participants groups usually contact each other. But, there are some groups of people of which we could think as group but which do not approach under this definition. People of middle class, for example, are population, but not social group because they do not co-operate, and not organized collectively.

Identity can also be defined by a different belongings to different Races and Ethnicities.

Races - this concept frequently is based on visible features (especially: colour of a skin, cranial or facial features and structure of hair) or physiological differentiation, and self-identifications. Therefore, some of scientists consider races as biologically based differentiation of the person. Many others assert that while racial classifications can be marked by phenotypic or genotypic lines, idea races is direct, and actual divisions of people on races, are social concept. Concepts races just as ways to group races, change culture and during long time, and it is frequent disputable on scientific just as to the social and political reasons. However, despite definition above, races it is often used to describe the whole amplitude other kinds of features which are not clearly or are not, in general are connected with biological features. For example people with racist biases can consider black people as less intellectual or more aggressive, or consider natives from Asia as inclined to mathematics. They, through their erroneous understanding, interpret that as biological features. Unfortunately such biases it is enough are extended, and the racial identity is frequently in some countries influences possibilities for acquisition of prestige and economic success.

The ethnic groups organized around certain and identical cultural heritage and therefore this concept support in itself exclusively cultural sense. In other words the ethnic adaptation is defined as group of people focusing in itself the general ethnic origin. It is the ethnic adaptation, is based on culture and also is much more dynamic and flexible. Ethnic feature therefore it something which can is studied and can change. But, that the ethnic adaptation - something studied, something cultural, does not mean, that it has less influences on people and has much stronger on them influence more likely.

Some groups are based on age, others, based on sexual differences. People also belong to different parties, are grouped in a trade, or; eventually, on interests of rest and free time carrying out.

Groups can be organized also in social hierarchy. The small inequality degree - a part of the most human interaction. One spouse can dominate over another; the child can receive more attention than his brothers on a birth; the boss can be more favorable to friends than other employees. But the inequality ­ becomes the most considerable when it regularly influences the whole classes of people. In more obvious form the inequality is shown as social stratification which is characterized regularly qualified unequal access to prospective economic ­ resources and prestige.

Anthropologists recognize at least two kinds of social stratification: class and caste. Class stratification limits access individual to valuable resources and prestige within partially flexible system. Though it is frequent - difficult process, some person can change a rank in class system if they operate ­to get necessary preconditions.

Caste defines the second kind of the social stratification, one based on constant ­membership. People are born in castes and cannot change membership regardless of the fact that they do. In India, for example, a caste is widespread feature of the organization ­of a society. Natives of Southern Asia are born in castes and remain in them for ever.

In comparison with identity–self is the concept considerably individually and also represents a set of private and our personal concepts of who we are and what we cost.

Many people consider self as the personal domain where we are who we are and that’s just that, and identity becomes hinge between self and culture, showing us what is expected of us and allowing our selves to gravitate towards it. More often we tend to think of ours self as outside of cultural processes in which we are brought up and live. We consider ours outlook, desires, believes perspectives on things often feel personal to us, beyond the influence of social factors. Therefore, we demand self as our own property, and we tend to think of it as which about what exceeds enculturation and experience. But, actually, we are all far more deeply produced from without than we may wish to admit.

Cultural Anthropology consider self as emerging out of the mind, the mind as arising and developing out of social interaction, and patterned social interaction as forming the basis of social structure The mind is the thinking part of the self. It is covert action in which the organism points out meanings to itself and to others. The ability to point out meanings and to indicate them to others and to itself is made possible by language, which encapsulates meanings in the form of symbols.

The main point of this process – self individualities-is reflexivity. People have an ability to behold. They qualify and estimate itself, that people - processual object , or how they accept themselves .Thus they are in process of self-knowledge and reflexivity, and it is сconstantly proceeding process.
In general, the self-concept is a whole set of values which we spend for us directly when we look at us. It is based on our supervision over us directly, our conclusions about the one who we, are based on as others operate and concern us, to our wishes and desires, and our estimations us . Self-concept who includes not only ours idealized representations and thoughts on that we, it is rather invariable, but also and our self-image or a working copy of our self-sights, that we import to situations and it is the subordinate to constant change and revision, depending on a situation.

Apply cultural analysis to a specific example in order to explore processes of identity and self formation.
Explain why your example analysis illustrates the anthropological approach to identity.

Obviously that culture, ethnicity or profession leaves on us indelible mark. But, formation human’s self - identity and feeling of an accessory to defined identity groups occurs frequently by tacit way. In this case original and deeper latent communication between self and identity is traced. Often our true interests lay far outside of ethnicity or occupation. These identity groups are quite often formed unconsciously and as though have no accurate names. But often the person realizes a deep belonging to them and feels special forces which connect people in these groups, even is sometimes much stronger than in standard identity groups. Besides we never identify itself only to one category, for example by a trade either on ethnicity or on political views. We always have multiple identity. The person as the individual is much more various and far not always keeps within any certain frameworks identity. In a following example I would like to show as it occurs.

My wife Iryna is very interesting person. She is registered nurse, and сertainly, the medical trade has left traces on its individuality and any events from our home life or from a life of our children it quite often considers from the medical point of view. On ethnicity (nationalities) it Byelorussian. Besides she is all-round developed person and has fine knowledge of the literature and art. It has fine character, she owns analytical mind and sense of humour. She is sociable and urbanistic person (she was born also and grew up in the big city of Belarus) and dialogue with people for her is very important. She loves a life in the big cities, likes to visit theatre, concerts, exhibitions and museums.

After arriving to the USA she was interested in how is it possible to confirm her trade. She met with the former Belarus nurses who work in the USA by a trade. But neither ethnicity, language, nor a trade have not led to supporting friendship or at least a superficial acquaintance with these people. Obviously that an accessory to listed identity groups has not given desired resultб , and they did not become friends and did not support acquaintance at all.

But, three months ago she started studying in Folsom Lake College and for short time she made acquaintance with interesting friends. Who are this people my wife maintains friendly relations with ? Who she is very interested to talk on a wide spectrum of subjects, whom she feels spiritual communication and is ready to share hers thoughts and desires? Strangely enough, it is people of absolutely diametrical and different cultures, and they have arrived from different countries.

Her first classmate has arrived to the USA from Iran. She is the Moslem on creed, and she is 40 years old, grew up in the big city and worked as the manager in a large firm. Now , she lives in her own house – she belongs to the middle class.

The second classmate – she got married to the rich American man and has arrived from China. She is on a nationality the Chinese woman, she is the Buddhist on creed, she is 37 years old, worked as the designer of clothes and grew up and has been taught in Shanghai. She lives in the house, in rich area – so, she belongs to higher middle class.

The third classmate of my wife – she is the Armenian on nationality, but has arrived to the USA from Georgia. On creed she belongs to Christianity, she is 42 years old, and worked as the chief accountant in the big city of Georgia. Now she is in a difficult financial position – the husband two years ago has suddenly died, and now she herself brings up the son. She lives in apartments.

As we see from above resulted data, if to consider traditionally, all these people belong to different identity groups. They have different language, ethnicity, trades and concern to different social classes, and it should seemed on these identity groups them nothing to unite (naturally, them unite only sex identity).

But , actually, I understood that them something strongly unite, and I have decided to do in this case Cultural Analyze and to find out the reason of it.

I have asked my wife to tell me in detail, what in addition she knows about her classmates. The additional information , which gave my wife , all has put on the places. It has appeared that all these women are not strongly religious, they have gotten various enough and good education, they not only understand cultures of their countries , but also cultures of other countries. They easily enough understand even political questions. All of them have positive mind, are not afraid of difficulties, are able to work persistently and have abilities to study; (now all of them successfully study English language in college). All of them have independent outlooks on life, and are able to put on with taste and also own sharp mind and fine sense of humor. All these women were born in the big cities and they like to live in the bustling big city. They love a city cultural life – visiting of theatres, concerts, exhibitions. So, they easily understand each other.

From above resulted, we can see that these women really united in the special identity group and at the base of them identity lays are such (I want sum up the basic characteristics):

- That they, naturally, women approximately of the same age.

- That they have got various enough and good education and have abilities to continue education and studying of language,

-They have the special type of thinking (analytical mind) and universal outlook on life.

- They are urbanized and are pleasant to live in the big cities, and they like city cultural life.

- They have independent outlooks on life and they are not closed in their religious frameworks.

- They are not afraid of difficulties of a new life and they are positive and optimistic adjusted, and have fine sense of humor.

Сultural anthropology gives us knowledge and good opportunity to understand the processes of identity and self formation , and this example of analysis illustrates the anthropological approach to identity. When we use cultural analysis in an opposite direction by studying artifacts and behavior, we do attempt to find out, what knowledge and values behind them. Given cultural analysis shows us how sometimes unusually can pass processes of identity and self formation and can be formed identity groups.

As societies round the world become big, and sometimes it is more difficult to identify groups. People can make the most part of the socialization in social networks, individual with which they regularly co-operate. Nevertheless, they are important because they can involve a part of social interaction individual. "The social disorder" also breaks interaction all over the world. People freely travel and enter into new social situations where cultivation completely is not divided. Individual can co-operate in set of various social situations every day. In this example I have tried to display it.

Establish your own perspective on how culture relates to identities and selves . Advanced Mastery Criteria : Evaluate the anthropological approach to studying identity. Use your example, or another example, to discuss the role of power in identity

We all are product of our culture. We have been formed by our realities and this process continues for all our life. My life experience gives me understanding how culture relates to identities and selves. I grew up in the USSR where communist ideology was some kind of subculture . Under this ideological press was formed our outlook, our cultural values and our identities . Ideology of communism tried to change culture of many people inhabited our country. The Soviet society was in essence sociocentric society where was not encouraged the human individuality in any form (Self). Since the early childhood we have grown up in the rigid ideological communistic environment. When we was seven years old, every schoolchild in elementary school had to enter at organization for young children, which was called "Octyabryata" and wore a badge of Red Star on our jacket. At the age of 10-11 years (middle school) all of us had to enter in youth the organization which was called “Soviet Pioneer” and carry red bandages on a neck (outwardly something similar to scout). At the age of 14 years we have been obliged to enter in Komsomol (the youth association of the Soviet Union for 14 to 26-year-old). All students at school should carry komsomol badges with the image of Lenin. It was the most powerful youth organization and almost exact copy of communist party of the USSR. If someone was not as member those organization he could not study at University or college or even to receive advancement on career in the future.

We know that Rites of passage – crucial places that gives us the chance to understand that it means – to belong to a certain category of identity, and studying rites of passage shows those qualities which required from certain social object.

Always, when us accepted in these organizations, we passed special communistic rites of passage. The first – we should study the organization charter for memory. Besides, we should have references from three members of the organization. Day of acceptance in members of the organization has always been organized as special ritual. Each of us has been dressed in the celebratory clothes and read an oath of fidelity to communism ideals before all members of the organization. All this ritual accompanied by singing of communistic songs and drumbeat. It is an example of that as step by step, the communistic mode, grouping us in the special organizations, tried to erase any individuality (self). Communists tried to generate from us new type of people or new group of people (identity) - “soviet people”.

Communistic Rites of Passage :

Fig #1 Admission to “Oktyabryata “

Fig.#2-4 Admission to “Soviet Pioneer”
"Soviet Oktyabryata" Badge (On a badge Lenin's image in the childhood)

"Soviet Pioneer's " Badge (On a badge Lenin's image)

Soviet Komsomol Badge(On a badge Lenin's image)

When I've done cultural analyze all these events: rites of passage or other rules of behaviors which were obligatory for members all of these organizations I has understood in what there was a main goal of communists – it was constructivist idea of depersonalization ours self-identity. We know that categorizing oneself in terms of the personal identity means seeing the self as distinct and different from others. The person is guided by her own goals rather than the group’s goals. Communists in the USSR did the activation of a social identity rather than a personal identity (self).This is the process of depersonalization, shifting the perception of the self from being unique toward the perception of the self as a member of a social category. The “Me” becomes a “We”. The person sees herself as the embodiment of the in-group prototype rather than as a unique individual. Though I think, depersonalization does not mean a loss of one’s personal identity completely, but rather a change in focus from the personal to the group basis of an identity.

1 comment:

Matt Archer said...

Another thoroughly thoughtful and thought provoking post Highlander! Thanks for your amazing effort and analytical skills.

You've demonstrated mastery of the Self and Identity learning unit.