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 ...view middle of the document...

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 of power and inequality" (Introductory Sociology pg 259). A clear example of the importance of these three elements in the construction of social identity is demonstrated within the recent rape of the Pakistani girl~ Mukhar Bibi. You will hardly hear of a girl in the USA being raped because her brother was seen walking in a deserted place with girl of a higher class and a different tribe. Yet the men who committed the rape declared that the girl's brother had violated the social law of the country and that their honour was at stake. The victim, who is of the Gujar tribe claimed that hundreds of Mastois were outside the building cheering and laughing all while the horrible deed was taking place. Not only does this situation clearly highlight the status of women in Pakistan but it also demonstrates the emphasis that Pakistanis place on class and ethnicity. You are judged not upon merit or personality, but upon your class, gender and ethnic origin.Throughout the ages, particularly the feudal age, gender has been considered to shape the behavioural patterns of the sexes. Women and men were expected to display similar characteristics no matter what part of the world they came from. However various people have proved such expectations wrong. Ann Oakley (1972) firmly believed that the culture of a society is what determines the type of behaviour displayed by the sexes. I believe that that assumption is right. If one compared the behaviour of a woman in India to that of a woman living in North America one would certainly notice a huge difference in behaviour. The constant demand of liberty for all helps to form female's identity in North America. They demand and get freedom of speech; movement and can occupy any job in society. This is not the case with Indian women. Not only when born is a girl considered a liability but she is also treated as inferior to the male of the species. In many cases, Indian women are viewed as possessions. As in...

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