The word identity is derived from the Latin “idem,” which translates to ‘the same’ but what if identities are ever-changing, and how does one discover and construct an identity? Notably, the dynamic nature of identity has been circulating in philosophical discourses, far longer in philosophy than psychology. Identity is never a priority or a completed product; it is only an ambiguous development of accessing an image of totality and belonging. The debate on identity is a complex subject that attracts divisions from different fragments of societies worldwide. Although some people assert that identities are static, it is ideal to explore the variables that define the dynamism of identity, including collectivism, learning, culture, and possible self-concept.
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The opponents of these philosophical backgrounds may argue that identity does not rely on the entirety of culture but an individualistic approach to conscience. Some of the easy ways they postulate are to envisage thought experiments and perceptions about different organisms in an ecosystem. Indeed what the brain conceive becomes the epitome of one’s ideological foundation in any set of environment. Such a notion negates the value of stagnant attributes of personality in a system as narrated by Hofstede (10 minutes with, 2014). Some people will consider language as the defining variable, while others will consider cultural heritage, religion, nationality, or self as the key aspects. In essence, such dynamics would still prompt the question of plurality in cognitive competence among individuals. Therefore, it is important to understand the global differences in how people characterize themselves and align to a particular entity.
First, collectivism versus individualism is a primary determinant of identity approaches. By focusing on uniqueness of a society, we may define populations as either individualist or collectivist societies. Geert Hofstede in “10 minutes with Geert Hofstede on Individualism versus Collectivism” provides a comprehensive understanding of the principles of each type of identity. On the one hand, collectivist societies consider themselves as a group with common attributes and exclusive traits, also known as communities or clans. Here, the relationship or ties come as the first principle for the population. Hofstede further asserts that communal identities are binding and portray exclusionary values. These groups of people understand common values and treat members as families or units. These notions have been propelled by several races to advance their position in global space. The African Americans, for instance, identify themselves as the black community or people of color. Consequently, they collectively engage in fighting for human rights and equality in societies as a combined force. On the other hand, individualistic communities tend to be multi-cultured because the bonds between are loose; each personality considers their value as an individual at the expense of common good of the people. One of the outstanding attributes of this type of existence is the continued self-competition that often results in productivity.
Second, self-conceptualization or knowledge is pivotal in defining personality of an individual. According to Markus and Nurius (1986), selves manifest in different forms, including cognitive components and environmental responses. In essence, what defines a person can never remain static because of diversity in cognitive response. The possible selves may showcase in the way people design their ambitions, hopes, and how they react to fear and threats. Often, the categories may define the current and future behaviors of someone (Markus & Nurius, 1986). Nonetheless, the common judgment is that where one comes from, their physical appearances and routine ways of living matter enormously in the quest to validate their position in a population. Predominantly, self-reflection, community values, national values, and global principles each postulate varying contextual meaning in this argument. According to Zull (2004) personal identity is the internal reflection and attributable to developing evolution in space and time. Concurrently, folks’ cognitive capabilities in their places of work also help them identify their skills, talents, competence, and other key aspects of variance among human kind.
Moreover, learning proves shape the way people think and act in different environments. Education begins at the birth of a baby because whatever parents the parent does, the young ones will learn from these activities, which affect their cognitive capacities later in life. In essence, consciousness in experiences demanding one’s physical interpretation and the intuitive awareness variety is imperative in defining one’s identity. Although the environment plays a primary role in one’s life, the type of response is more important. The way folks internalize and utilize the knowledge derived from learning processes greatly; hence, the diversity in personality traits (Zull, 2004). Historical concepts such as race have been misinterpreted in various ways. In some cases, learning centers help individuals to know where they came from and how things have changed based on time. Today, social media is playing the foremost valuable position in liberating members from the yokes of traditional undoing. Together with access to technology and internet services, change of beliefs and mentality has become inevitable in almost all sectors.
Essentially, continuous learning seems to change the way the brain operates and shapes characteristics of people. Zull (2004) asserts that education has had great role in transforming individuality in different sectors and professions. Globally, racial discrimination is considered an injustice endured by the people of color as perpetuated by the whites. However, within the African continent, multiple tribes exist which fight racial wars amongst themselves. Some folks seem to abandon their physical appearance by bleaching their bodies to become white because they believe the white identity has elements of superiority in it. Thus, learners interpret colors differently, which in turn affects their interpersonal relations and self-actualization during their educational progress. Misconducts such as discrimination and prejudice emanate from beliefs about what constitutes a nation’s group: Hispanic, African Americans, Caucasian, White or Asian. Some whites consider themselves as the epitome of humanity, subjecting the former to slavery and inequity in all circles of existence. Such a set of collective learnt behavior defines a collocation of identity in different parts of the world. However, it keeps changing as people intermarry and give birth to children with cross-cultural attributes.
Cultural dynamics also play fundamental role in shaping identities, both collectively and individually. One of the notable aspects of culture is hybridity which manifests in mimicry and space. The spatial and temporal components define the social norms and traditions of people in different environments. Conceptually, the political behaviors portrayed by different countries are a collective illustration of their cultural heritage merged with intellectual competence in such region. Essentially, where one is born and brought up is what will shape one’s ideological beliefs and intellectual alongside the biological interplay with history (Markus & Nurius, 1986). Therefore, all political changes emanate from values attached to culture and social order. Globally, there are countless ethnic groups and indigenous groups that bear distinctive attributes. These characteristics are expressed in language, food, customs, clothing, and daily ways of living and interacting. Some have remained true to their heritage and historical backgrounds. In the 10 minutes with Geert Hofstede, he claims that the culture of politics and nationalism portrayed by different nations helps to illustrate the magnitude of common belief in a society. The Aboriginals, for example, depict a classic illustration of how staying true to local and traditional beliefs can be a rare sense of belonging. Oblivious of the predominant attributes of a multiplicity of people, nationalism delves into a single entity structure for different groups. Thus, one would always recognize their birth background or residential states as the places they belong. Thus, unity in a geographical region may also be used as a defining factor in population identity.
To conclude, the notion of identity is a very broad concept that requires exclusive research and understanding to make valid conclusions because it keeps changing based on collectivism, world education/ learning alongside self-conceptualization. In an ideal world, societies construct, deconstruct and reconstruct aspects of culture in pursuit of their identities. At the same time, educational curricula perceive this facet as a major contributor to career growth and development. One becomes what they love doing and continuously nurtures their personality. The mind, time, space, and environment play the most important role in shaping the argument on identity. Simultaneously, there are complexities around the debate about who we are and what we can do in life. Each proposition bears a fundamental impact on the social theoretical squabble.
10 minutes with. (2014). 10 minutes with Geert Hofstede on Individualisme versus Collectivisme [Video]. YouTube.
Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist. 41(9), 954- 969.
Zull, J. E. (2004). The art of changing the brain. Educational Leadership, 62(1), 68-72.