The Concept Of Social Identity, Social Class,Gender And Ethnicity

1730 words - 7 pages

Social Identity is the understanding of who we are, and reciprocally, other people's understanding of themselves. Richard Jenkins believed that this social identity is achieved through socialization within social groups. He argued that by placing themselves in the role of others, people, particularly children, gain a greater understanding of the role that they should play. For example, a six-year-old girl playing "mommy" with her dolls will, as she gets into the role, begin to understand what a mother expects from a daughter and will, in response, be able to perform her own role as a daughter better. This is known as the play stage.Identity taking or role-playing is, according to Tony Bilton, the primary way in which individuals creates and develops not only their social identity but also their personal identity as well. Jenkins noted too that identity is internal, that is, what we think of ourselves, and external, that is, how others see us. He claims that interaction, while a key factor in the development of one's social identity is not solely responsible for our social development. Social Class, Gender, and Ethnicity also play significant roles.Social class is the clear distinction of the division of the population based on economic considerations such as inequality in terms of wealth or income. Karl Marx believed that this situation determined social identities of all individuals within society. Marx viewed class as greater than even gender or ethnicity.Gender often refers to the socially constructed categories of masculine and feminine. Society uses these biological differences to assign various social roles to each of the two genders. Such as the age-old concept that women's place are in the home while men, the providers, must work to support their wives and children. Sociobiologists in particular believe in the naturalistic fallacy, which is because of their genes males and females must act or respond in a specific manner. For example they would claim females are "cloy" and males are "aggressive".Ethnicity is a sense of belonging to a particular community whose members share common cultural traditions. Sociologists see this type of classification as the most flexible. It does not rely on biological reasons of explanation but rather points more to persons with common social backgrounds. Ethnicity, like gender and social class is essential in the shaping of social identity because whether we like to admit it or not we are greatly influenced by the people surrounding us. Like the fact that the white North American child born into the middle class will most likely receive a better chance at a highly paid job than their Latin American middle class peers, what society classifies us as will determine who we are in the future, no matter what we say to the contrary.Bilton found that although "social relationships of race, class and gender are often considered in isolation from each other, in reality they operate together to generate structures...


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