Social Identities - Essay Example

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920 words
University of Richmond
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Social identities stem from normative social constructs and our peers and family, for the most part, the people mostly parents around an individual help shape him or her because they give names and also determine the environment within which an individual lives. As a person grows up there is usually a challenge of carving out an identity for oneself; this stems from the fact that one may have a group mentality or may not be courageous enough to deviate from the norm that is to refuse the definition that he or she is given and self-define usually the challenge. This paper is going to give invaluable insights regarding how much can we change or challenge the social identities we are born into; besides there will be consideration of whether there are certain identities or social categories that are more flexible than others.

Linda Holtzman and Leon Sharpe affirm that social identities are also the reason why racism exists. Social identity is the reason why some people perceive that they are more superior to the others. For example, Sharpe and Leon affirm that it would be a lie if we believe that we now live in a post-racial society because that is not the truth.

The most important thing i.e. a prerequisite of changing ones social identity is self-confidence. Without self-confidence, it is not easy to move away from the dictates of friends and family members. A good example is matters that revolve around religion and even careers; some parents may want some children to be Roman Catholic just because they are Catholic themselves. Whats more, a parent may want a child to pursue a white-collar job and become a lawyer, a doctor, or even a banker. Such constructs, if unchecked are the very reason why human beings get into wrong careers and need to change them after sometime. In addition to that, it is the very reason why people get to study the wrong courses in the university.

There are advantages and disadvantages that come with aligning to social identities that are expected of us. This is such that the expectations of peers and parents, if good, will pressure us to do good and achieve social and economic successes beyond our expectations. For instance, if the parents of a particular child expect the said child to be a doctor, the child may be hesitant at first but take that line of a career anyway only to find out that it works for him or her perfectly.

A challenge that is characteristic with matters of social identity is the fact that it influences people to align with ideals that they are not comfortable with just because they fear being sidelined by the people that are around them. Such is the disadvantage that comes with matters of social identity. In fact, most people would do things just to keep up appearances or to keep up with the Joneses because they do not want to seem left behind.

Social identity trends happen to have the media as a proponent, but the media is not the only such proponent. There are several other interactions that help dictate social identities such as interactions with friends and family members. It is such matters that Linda Holtzman and Leon Sharpe credit to the fact that children live up to seven years old understanding gender as a function of role rather than as a function of anatomy.

There are many ways with which an individual can deviate from the norm and determine unique social identity status; this solely depends on doing what one thinks is befitting or right. This is not to say that an individuals looking to be unique when it comes to matters social identity should never ask for advice, it simply means that one should make his or her decisions on their own and out of their own volition.

Another way to successfully change and challenge the social identities that we are born into is to succeed in our chosen and self-proclaimed choices. Choices come in the name of career or even religion. Besides, the spouse we choose, the beer we drink, and the social clubs we join ought to be as a result of the personal choices that we make. Whats more, if an individual chooses to become a musician, a line of a career that most parents do not approve of it is only fair that said individual succeeds in this line of career because it makes one not lose credibility. The societies we live in is attracted to strength and success and are only supportive of things that seem to be working. When it comes to matters of success, a good example is when Jesse Owens succeeded in the Berlin Olympics despites Hitlers racist remarks that only whites would succeed in the Olympics. The meaning of race throughout US history provides important clues such is because African Americans for the most part, and Hispanics to a minor extent have had discrimination challenges subject to race because of social identity; the rest of the society(whites) identified them as inferior.

Being stubborn and having a strong conviction in ones dreams and aspirations is the only way for one to be indifferent to the many ways the society would want to determine our social identities. Being nice and adhering religiously to normative social constructs would only make us lose out on what we really want to be. With regards to discrimination, it is only fair to prove people with a stereotype mentality wrong.

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