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People’s awareness of their belonging to a community, which allows them to understand their place in sociocultural space and to navigate in the world around freely is connected with the concept of cultural identity. In its essence, cultural identity is a sense of belonging to a particular culture. Each person needs a certain regulation of his or her life that can be found only in the community of other people, which determines the existence of cultural identity. The essence of cultural identity derives from the fact that a person consciously accepts relevant cultural norms and patterns of behavior, value orientations, and language. Cultural identity contributes to the understanding of one’s self from the standpoint of traditional characteristics accepted in a given society as well as to self-identification with its cultural patterns. Thus, without comprehending the essence of cultural identity and studying its problem, it is difficult to understand the modern world with its multiculturalism and multinational composition.
The Problems Associated with Cultural Identity
In the modern world, the relevance of the problem of maintaining cultural identity has increased. The intensification of the processes of globalization, cultural integration, and expansion of contacts between representatives of different countries led to the gradual blurring of boundaries between national cultures and the loss of cultural identity. The standardization of cultural patterns, brought about by the rapid spread of mass culture, has led people to wear the same jeans, listen to the same music, watch the same movies, and follow the same fashion trends (Audretsch et al. 685). Globalization damages national cultures, traditions, customs, myths, and other notions that are tightly connected with the cultural awareness of any region.
Today’s processes of globalization and transformation violate traditional forms of cultural recognition and dissolute feelings of self-identity formed in the framework of previous traditions. This is especially acute in relation to the problem of cultural awareness of representatives of small groups as well as ethnic, religious, and cultural minorities. Their former sense of their own “I,” which was provided by the previous forms of identity, fell into decay (Freire 19). Thus, there is a gap in continuity, when the destruction of one type of identity must be compensated by the identity of another type. The lack of a mechanism for the continuity of identity for modern people began to be accompanied by a feeling of internal discomfort and anxiety, realized in the forms of isolation and strengthening of isolationist tendencies. Isolationism, in turn, prompts tendencies toward the reverse localization of culture and traditions, lifestyles, thoughts, and norms of human behavior.
In connection with the active introduction of popular trends into the life of modern people, which, as a rule, are associated with the US culture, the question of cultural expansion becomes acute. However, modern trends often contradict the interests of transnational corporations. American culture is currently actively influencing the whole world, which can lead to its standardization and the destruction of the rich landscape of cultural diversity (Mendonca et al. 167). In turn, this entails the loss of cultural identity and the construction of many cultures according to the cultural patterns of the United States. Therefore, the biggest problem connected with cultural identity is its total dissolution in global trends.
Coping with the Problems
To efficiently deal with the problems related to cultural identity, this phenomenon should be considered as an opportunity to establish socio-cultural ties between generations, different social groups in society, territories of provinces and megacities, and different people. Therefore, people in the modern world must be very responsible for their words, deeds, real appeals, and behaviors. In these conditions, morality should be placed on the first plan as a value uniting people, proving the significance of a separate human person (Audretsch et al. 685). In addition, here, of course, a special role belongs to higher institutions of states, which, using their experience, must rely on cultural reputation and find fundamental points of contact with the authorities in the formation of cultural identity.
The main thing that higher institutions should do is to build respect for individuals and create a humanitarian environment for existence. It is difficult to realize this in conditions of deep contradictions, both ideological and creative. Therefore, states must strive, first of all, for intellectual unification. At the heart of such a union lies cultural identity. All people around the world must understand who they are. It is necessary to stop, clear the cultural platform from all superfluous, alien to mentality literacy, and start again towards the cultural development of society, relying on the world achievements of our multi-ethnic culture (Bennett et al. 78). Accordingly, cultural identification is impossible without cultural unity, without multinational achievements in culture, and without the contribution of all people and ethnic groups to this process.
Evaluation of the Possible Outcomes
The more globalization processes penetrate national cultures, the more people strive to protect their internal components, such as language, religion, traditions, culture. That is, in the era of global transformations, the problems of national identity are most acute, which are directly related to the desire of peoples to self-determination in the modern world and with the need to defend and maintain their identity (Freire 18). Indeed, the widely occurring processes of globalization, intruding into the centuries-old patterns of national cultures, entail inter-religious, inter-ethnic tension, which sometimes translates into conflicts that bring many human victims. Unfortunately, at present, separatist ideas and ethnic conflicts have become one of the primary outcomes of cultural identity problems.
Hypothetically, in the future, the cause for international conflicts will derive from ethnic and religious differences, since one of the main signs of the separation of people and nations is ethnicity and religion. Precisely religion that acts as one of the key factors hindering ethnic assimilation and thereby contributing to the preservation of cultural identity (Bennett et al. 77). However, this is only one side of the coin. On the other hand, the process of globalization in the sphere of culture can dynamically proceed only in the form of interethnic interaction, taking into account the peculiarities of cultures and religions of various peoples. As the experience of the past shows, quite often, tensions in society and armed clashes are ethnic. Still, if, in addition to ethnic differences, there are also religious differences, armed conflicts are even more acute. Therefore, cultural identity problems may lead to serious consequences in the future.
In the process of its evolution, humanity has always faced an alternative choice: morality or immorality, energy or ecology, liberalism, or traditionalism. Therefore, at this moment of history, in the era of globalization, humankind again has to make a choice: to submit to global processes finally and at the same time, accept other people’s values or try to preserve their own cultural traditions. Undoubtedly, the possible outcomes from the cultural identification problems can be adverse; thus, it is the role of states’ higher institutions to handle them efficiently.
Audretsch, David B., et al. “A New Perspective on Entrepreneurial Regions: Linking Cultural Identity with Latent and Manifest Entrepreneurship.” Small Business Economics, vol. 48, no. 3, 2017, pp. 681-697.
Bennett, Andy, et al. Music, Space, and Place: Popular Music and Cultural Identity. Routledge, 2017.
Freire, Paulo. Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to Those who Dare Teach. Routledge, 2018.
Mendonca, Vitor S., et al. “The Function of Disclosing Errors: New Cultural Challenges for Physicians.” HEC Forum, vol. 31, no. 3, 2019, pp. 167-175.