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Outline And Describe Three Structural Influences On Identity

1611 words - 6 pages

For the first part of this essay I will discuss how structural influences shape our identities. The main factors I have identified are social class, gender and culture.I will also define the difference between agency and structure and how they in turn affect our identities.Identity is the link between the personal and the social. i.e. the individuals who take up specific identities and in turn the social situations we then find our selves in and the roles we form.Social class is used to group people of one identity together. It's the classification of people who due to their salaries share common economic interests, experiences and lifestyles.The argument about class is dominated by two distinctive traditions of writings of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Max Weber (1864-1920).Although both writers differ in important ways in their understanding of class and society both agree that class has a bearing on the identity that forms from wherever you may be from, a working class background or a middle class background.Categories that we place ourselves in are dependent on social class, these then show us a link between incomes, wealth, peoples identity and therefore our behaviour.Work related identities are socially acceptable, everybody we meet will compare themselves to us in relation to what our job is and our income and social class.Gender and the social differences between men and women and how stereotypical these are viewed because gender is a key dimension of identity.The first question that is asked when a baby is born is whether it's a boy or a girl. This is used to categorise the child by its physical characteristics. Freud (cited Grove and Watt p49) agreed with this and said that a child's psycho-sexual development depends on identifying with others of the same sex. Therefore the child's self categorisation.Gender is often associated with masculine and feminine traits but also there are neutral traits,Feminine characteristics are seen to be: Anxious, co-operative, faithful, gentle, human and intuitive. On the opposite side masculine characteristics are said to include: Arrogance, being active and athletic, Assertiveness and commanding. Neutral characteristics include being calm, conventional, dignified and playful. (Source Kath Woodward).All these shape our identity as men or women, even from an early age children are deemed by society that boys and girls will act differently opting for gender appropriate toys i.e. trucks, toolkits and construction kits for a boy and feminine toys i.e. dolls, tea sets, and domestic items for a girl most children can categorize them selves by the age of 2 to 3 (Source Durkin, 1995,)For the structural influence that is culture, this is predominantly affected by our ethnicity and race, although it may include our religion as well.People are identified by their colour or race and automatically puts them into a social group with others of a similar colour and race, although we now live in a multi ethnic society in...

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