How Race and Ethnicity Contribute to Social Identities
modern society, as individuals we take identity for granted. We appear to
understand who we are, we seem to have a good knowledge of individuals in our
presence and they tend to relate to us in the same way (Jenkins, 2008). However, social identity can affect
human experience and for this reason we should not take it for granted. In
reality, we never truly complete the formation of our identity due to the
complexity of it. However, throughout our existence we continue to adapt it to
a particular setting and develop our understanding of our own identity. In this essay, I will address both race and
ethnicity and the ways in which they donate to human experience and social individuality.
Race and ethnicity are factors which result in our identity being changed and
To begin with,
Social Identity is a term which individuals use to consider themselves.
Identity refers to all aspects of an individual including physical appearance,
age, personality, sex, ethnicity and skill. Identity is associated with how
individuals fit in amongst a group (Síolta, 2010). The philosophy of belonging is intertwined
with identity. Belonging is the way in which an individual identifies their
importance amongst a particular setting, for example family, group of friends,
work or school. Childhood development
requires the issues associated with identity and belonging to encourage a child
to discover who they are. Research has indicated the importance of
socialization and interaction at a young age as it encourages future learning.
Difference is an important topic to introduce a child to, with understanding
and accepting difference with a positive view a child can grow and appreciate
diversity. Factors which are considered as external can also affect how individuals
view themselves. Opinions from others is an example of an external factor.
Those who are confronted to praise tend to have a more positive outlook of
their identity as they are more confident, unlike those who’s work is not acknowledged,
these individuals struggle to identify themselves.
the way in which individuals learn to belong. Our culture is continuously being
passed to the next generation by this process. Children who have been isolated
have highlighted the importance of socialization. Socialization allows for individuals to get
the chance to progress their sense of identity and belonging. Once one’s sense
of self is established we can begin to identify amongst other people (Síolta, 2010). Without a sense of
self, we fail to form relationships with others and therefore we fail at
learning to belong. Developmental psychologists work with those who suffer in
an attempt to help them to create their identity and find where they belong.
society, Identity contributes greatly to individual’s daily thoughts. People
have the growing need to know who they are and where they fit in. Each of us
have an idea of who we are, although this repeatedly changes as we encounter
new experiences in our lives. Society also have an impression of individuals
identities which also shapes us. Generally, we accept people’s idea of our
identity and acknowledge what we believe our own identity to be, and then at times
adapt it from the opinions of others. Unfortunately, some opinions must be ignored
as they are unfair, unnecessary or incorrect. Some topics which can be
misjudged may be sensitive and hurtful towards individuals which therefore
results in tension.
When we consider
who we are, we generally tend to focus on personal characteristics, social
roles, experiences and what we like. We locate ourselves into a particular
setting by associating ourselves with gender, race, ethnicity and race (Markus, 2010).
ethnicity are becoming a growing factor in society which affect people’s sense
of belonging and leading to misplaced identity. These two factors often result
in prejudice, discrimination and inequality. Although, we can also associate
both as a source of motivation, belongingness and meaning. Both factors can
influence where a person will live and who they will associate with. They can
also influence health and wealth status and can impact on the quality of
medical help, schools and workplace they have access to.
Race refers to
physical characteristics of a person for example hair, skin or eye colour or
bone structure. Whereas ethnicity refers to cultural issues like ancestry,
nationality, language and regional culture. Skin colour such as white, brown
and black are examples of race that come from many parts of the world. German
or Spanish are examples of ethnicity.
Presently in the
21st century, we are experiencing growth in multiculturalism. It has
now become an essential topic to teach children to respect other individuals
and groups. Many schools have become Multi-Denominational Schools. This has
been a greatly rewarding action as it has allowed individuals who have
similarities and also differences to mix and find comfort and belonging within
a group of peers. This has allowed for children to learn about one another’s
ethnicity and culture and respect it. However, Ethnic and racial diversity is a
challenging topic for teachers who are unprepared. They are forced to act on
the spot when situations arise and then they must try to provide by adaptation
the needs to allow individuals to feel welcome in a setting.
Race was once a
method of dividing classes which established a hierarchy. This unfair treatment
no longer exists; however, people now acknowledge their race and address the
unequal treatment in times of unfair treatment. Laws and procedures have now
been established to prevent such cases evolving for example the employment
equality act 1998. Ethnicity focuses on people’s ways of living (Markus, 2010). Many families have
traditions which they follow as part of their culture.
To conclude, Race
and Ethnicity are very important for individuals to develop their identity.
People are acknowledging and accepting each other for who they are, rather than
mistreating them. Even though stereotypes and labelling individuals remains
evident, it is reducing as people begin to understand the importance of who we
are as individuals. Yet, as Individuals we attempt to make a specific image of
ourselves in order to feel comfortable in a particular situation. We use
techniques to present this image to others. These techniques are impression
management and include dress, body language, appearance and speech. As discovered
through this topic, all individuals are unique and react to situations
differently. Society must continue to respect one another and create a world
which is diverse and accepting for every identity.