The understanding of the self originates from social interactions and evaluations of behaviours, character traits, interests, and other patterns of thinking, acting and feeling. This knowledge defines human identities. However, the identities emerge after making comparisons with socially defined values, norms, and behaviours. Some of the most important social institutions are the family and schools. On average, humans spend most of their lifespan at home or school. Despite the work environments taking most of the adult lifespan, the crucial development stages occur at home and school. The interactions in these institutions create continuities, uniqueness, or affiliations. Humans imitate or defy the social attributes to build their identities. The research explores the influence of social institutions in defining human identities.
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Identity and Social Institutions
My father is a real estate agent while my mother works as a clerk in a convenient store. I have two siblings comprising an older sister and a younger brother. My father is the head of the family, and he is involved in most of the major decisions while my mother does most of the household chores after work. However, my father sometimes helps in the kitchen. In fact, he has been encouraging us to carry out different tasks including kitchen chores and mowing our background lawn.
The school offers different experience including the relationships with other races, gender, and age. It brings together different characters that have different skills and exposure to different social and cultural backgrounds. My best friends, Andy and Rafael, belong to different races. In fact, Rafael is black while Andy is half Mexican. Every person has unique characteristics that are derived from their races and cultural backgrounds.
The family is one of the institutions that influence the development of identity. Although our father makes nearly all of the important decisions, he has to engage my mother in the decision-making exercise. This has increased my trust and respect for women. Additionally, the father’s gesture of helping in the kitchen has made me realise that the traditional roles were discriminating. Currently, I do not consider any role as stipulated for a particular gender. I believe that every person has the right to undertake whichever position he or she desires. The small gestures have also promoted my trust for others. In fact, it is very easy for me to make new friends. In our childhood, my parents were relentless when it came to discipline. They had set out special family rules that had to be observed. I learnt to be obedient because of the fear of punishments.
The schools also contribute significantly to the development of my identity. I do not possess any race-related stereotypes on my friends or schoolmates. The interactions with my best friends have made me dynamic and appreciative of other people’s cultural norms.
One of the benefits of the institutions in identity formation is that they are responsible for all positive attributes. I am a law-abiding citizen because of the experiences from the institutions. Additionally, I am capable of making new friends without focusing on their gender or race. The other benefit is that the institutions promote conformity to some of the social expectations. The systems influence some positive social expectations. For example, personal responsibilities are realised after interactions with the institutions’ frameworks and structures.
Despite the benefits, the institutions expand the stereotyped beliefs and perceptions. For example, I realised that my grandfather has never been involved in any household chores. He associates the chores to women. Additionally, the racial representations in the school are not equal. The Anglo-Saxons have the highest representation followed by the blacks. The racial disparities in the admission of students evoke some underlying stereotypes and perceptions about some race. The institutions can promote biased reasoning when dealing with a mixed race situation.
Gender is one of the most influential forces in identity formation. Society has pre-defined roles and expectations from every gender. The longstanding perception has always regarded women as the inferior gender. Additionally, women have been assigned the weaker and less paying jobs because they are expected to take care of the family. The gender attributes may affect self-esteem. Additionally, they may interfere with a student’s career choice. Despite the negative influences of gender, the individual agency can be applied to resolve the stereotypes. The agency focuses on self-actualisation and independent evaluations of situations and social expectations. It has empowered many women with a passion for pursuing their dreams.
Race and ethnicity are strong forces that follow stereotyped and biased principles to rank or classify human behaviours. The forces associate race with superiority and specific career paths. For example, the blacks are still considered an inferior race to the whites. Stereotypes and stereotyping emphasise on creating unverified assumptions and misconceptions about a group of people. For example, most of the gender roles, racial disparities, and social expectations are founded on stereotypes.
Social classes are very strong forces that associate economic returns to success. The force prevents many humans from following specific career paths because they are considered inferior. The forces interfere with employees’ perceptions of their work and can cause frustrations and low self-esteem. Social mobility focuses on the movement of human units from one social class to another. Social satisfaction is associated with the movement of a unit from low-paid jobs to those with higher financial returns. This aspect has influenced the human career choices because most individuals struggle to shift from a lower class to a higher one.