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Culture refers to the language,
values, norms, customs, diet and all other things people learn that make their
way of life of any society. It is passed on from generation to generation
through socialisation. Socialisation can be primary and secondary. Primary
socialisation is what we learn from childhood from our families for instance
what and how to eat while secondary socialisation is a further development and
reinforcement of what we learn in primary socialisation. Identity like culture
is also a straight forward concept. It is also formed through socialisation
under the influence of social institution such as family and education. For
example at home a woman will identify herself as a mother while at college she
is identify as a student. In this essay, we shall scan how gender, ethnicity
and age shape our identities and culture as proposed by sociological writers.
Gidden and Sutton (2013) suggests that identity can be primary and secondary. Primary
identities are formed with the family and friends through socialisation while
secondary identities are those build on primary identities. Identity is
therefore formed through social institution such as mass media, family and
education.

The concept of Social
Identity is who we consider ourselves to be and how others identify us via
socialisation. Richard Jenkins believed that social identity is obtained
through socialization within social groups. He argued that playing the role of
others makes us to better understand what role we should play especially in the
case of children. For instance, a ten-year-old girl playing the role of a mother,
as she starts, after time, she will gradually understand what a mother expects from
a daughter and in return, this will enable her to better understand her own
role as a daughter. Another sociologist call Tony Billiton argued that role-playing
plays an important role in building both social and personal identity. Jenkins
further extended his idea by saying identity is both internal and external. Internal
identity simply means what you feel or consider yourself to be while external
identity means what people think about you. Although socialising with the
environment plays a great role in constructing an individual’s identity, other
factors such as Gender and ethnicity offers a huge contribution in a person’s
identity (Richard Jenkins).

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The idea of gender explains
what the society considers to be appropriate for a male or female. It involves the
concept of masculinity and femininity which plays a role in shaping our
identity. The society uses these biological differences to reckon the type of
social role to perform by each of the two genders. For instance the old-age
that women are suppose to act as housewives and look after the children while
the man works and provide money to sustain the family (Zevallos,
2011-2017).
Raewyn Connell defines masculinity as a broad set of processes which
include gender relations and gender practices between men and women and “the effects of these practices
in bodily experience, personality and culture.” Connel argues that there are many masculinities within one culture. A good
example is the hegemonic culture (Zevallos, 2011-2017). Sociologist CJ
Pascoe finds that young working-class  police masculinity often use the phrase, “fam, you’re a fag.” Boys are called “fags”( homosexual) not
because they are homosexuals, but when they behave in an un-masculine way. This
includes dancing; type of drinks or movies. 

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”.

The sociology of gender helps us to gain insight on how
society influences our understandings and perception of the differences
between masculinity and femininity and the impact it has on our identities. We
pay special focus on the power relationships that follow from the established gender order in a given
society, as well as how this changes over time.

The identity of an
individual does not only hinge on the individual’s choice but also what other
people see them. They do not have the freewill to choose any identity they like
because other elements such as social class, ethnicity and age may influence the
way others see them. Becker (19971963) mentioned of master status; a dominant
identity that overshadows all other areas of an individual’s identity. For example,
an African man may not like to be identified basically as an African but as a chartered
accountant. Master status makes it difficult for us to assert the type of identity
we want mainly because of ethnic and gender characteristics.

There exist a link between age and ethnicity. In the western
society, a person at the age of 65 or above is identified as old. They begin to
avoid from participating in certain activities such as clubbing, sports and
even driving. A person from another ethnicity living in the UK may be
classified as old based on UK law, but also classified as working class in
another country. Also, a person may be sixty but feels like twenty. This therefore
means in order to be identified based on age, it depends on subjectivity and
the environment you live. In 1986 S. R. Kaufman carried out a series of deep interviews
about the personal experiences of aging. Although there were some changes in both
social and physical changes, many older persons had a strong inner experience
of continuity that was not affected by their rising chronological age. Kaufman
concluded that older people have an ”ageless self.” Many older persons also
do not feel that they belong to the elderly age group and tend to see.

Ethnicity
has an impact in identifying us as individuals or group of people. It plays a
great role in shaping our identity and culture. From an individual’s colour,
accent, language and food , one can easily identify their ethnicity. In other
words it is a constructed identity that is tied to a place. For instance people
from the African continent are identified as black. Also, individuals having
the same culture and also accent determine ethnicity for example Indians, one
can easily identify them by their way of speaking or accent, religion and also
way of dressing. When individuals of the same origin come across each other who
same the same culture in the streets of the UK, it brings some sense of
togetherness, security and assurance even though they are not in their country
of origin.

However,
ethnicity affects our identity in so many areas of life. In Britain, ethnicity
is mainly associated with minority groups from the former British colonies such
as Africa. This kind of categorisation affects identity because it emphasizes
on skin colour rather than common culture characteristics. The ability of
ethnic minorities in Britain to shape their self identity is also limited by
the way in which they are seen and treated by powerful groups. Prejudice and
discrimination practiced by other ethnic groups, may make it difficult for
others to express their cultural identity fully.

 

 

 To conclude, gender, ethnicity and age are fundamental
in the creation of one’s social identity. In every society way we may find
ourselves, it is very important to know our gender. It helps us to have a firm
understanding regarding our social roles as men or women. It makes us to live
in peace, harmony and have respect for others. Accepting the fact we have
different culture or practice different religion promotes national pride, integrity
and to hope that we relatively treated base on culture rather than
ethnocentricity by other society.

 

 

 

 

 

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