The topic of identity is a controversial and problematic topic everywhere across the globe. Identity can be viewed from several angles and no one definition is particular enough to be considered the right definition since time occasions changes that redefine any current definition. Identity is what defines an individual or a group of people, a way for them to be defined or treated. It can be taken to be a set of attitude that influences the behavior of certain individuals, attitudes that create a culture. But identity is a dynamic process and society must grapple with several changes which create certain struggles occasioned by identity issues. People will identify themselves using basic human elements like race, ethnicity and even class. The constructs of race and ethnicity might influence language and create certain barriers which make it hard to deconstruct identity based on limited social groupings in favor of common nationalism. The issue of identity is more important in a social setting like that of the United States since the nation has people from all races and ethnicity who must coexist in pursuit of their individual welfare and that of the nation.
Elements of Identity
Identity in any given society is determined by several things from the time we are born and our genetic makeup determines our gender. Gender is important since most societies have duties constructed along gender lines and even developed countries with lesser gender discriminations have some roles which are favored by either gender. It is not legally or morally wrong for men to pursue some traditionally female jobs like nursing but this might attract some bias from male citizens against male nurses. It is also likely that women regardless of the liberalization of their particular society will be expected to conduct or coordinate household chores and to some extend take a more subordinate role to the husband in a family setting.
Culture plays a vital role in matters of identity especially where gender and class is concerned. Some cultures define the role of individuals based on gender and the kind of socio-economical class they find themselves in. It becomes difficult for people considered to be of inferior class or caste to amass the right self esteem to rise beyond barriers of such cultural constraint to achieve what would be expected of a higher class or one gender perceived to be superior.
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In a socio setting of a developed nation like the United States, factors like gender, race and economic class plays a significant role in shaping the identity of individuals and groups. People born of rich families especially in the dominant white populace are likely to achieve higher success as compared to any other demographic. This does not mean there is discrimination based on race but rather, these groups have the required economic and social affluence to prepare their members for success in a highly competitive world (Sengupta). Minority groups like African Americans continue to lag behind due to the effects of past social, political and economical disadvantages in a society which continues to hold on to negative stereotypes concerning such groups. America continues to define people using their racial or ethnic background with a good example being African Americans and Asian American. Cochran has accused the American government of instituting voting reforms aimed at locking out some minority groups from elections.
Understanding identity is important since the kind of attitudes people have of themselves determines to a large extent their individual and collective actions. People perceived to be violent and drug dealers are likely to adapt those characteristics in line with several deviant theories. This means the search for equality must be enhanced by an effort to foster better identity for all members of our society in order to even the field of opportunities and discourage vices like crime which originate from lack of equity. People who believe in equality equal regardless of gender, race or socio-economic status are likely to coexist in harmony and achieve more success at the personal and national front.