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The Perception Of Personal Identity Essay

2492 words - 10 pages

In the past, individual’s identities were often assigned to them by the hegemonic culture, largely based on their conceptualization of sameness. The hegemonic culture dominated identity discourse by drawing distinct boundaries between racial and cultural groups, separating and defining them. Modern discourse however, has seen individuals taking the power of assigning identity signifiers for themselves often in periods of great social change. While times of resistance are often the most easily recalled examples of this, subtle trends in society a tremendous impact, often without the conscience knowledge of the society. In the past two decades, Western Culture has been witness to a radical transformation in identification processes. Technology has become increasingly pivotal to popular culture, and as such, it has had a profound influence on the way we create and affirm our sense-of-self. Identification categories have become less rigid compared to thirty years ago, and people are on average more open to identifying across boundaries. The process of blurring identity lines between distinct groups has re-distributed the power of assigning signifiers from the hegemonic element of popular culture to the individual. Means of instant information distribution and exchange, discourse and academic retrieval, such as instant messengers, social networking sites, Wikipedia, et al are perhaps some of the most influential because of their instantaneousness. While the lines have become blurred on a social level, individual identities are often affirmed.
The past saw identity boundaries being stringently controlled by hegemonic discourse. Laws and social conventions aimed at controlling the “other” were common place. Racial, ethnic, and religious categories were operational based on perceived similarities a group shared-either on a genetic or visual level. It relied on a “link between identity and place' with the assumption that people with common ancestries share more traits with each other than they do with other cultures. (Ferguson, Gupta, 1992, p. 7). Many Canadians had hyphenated identities imposed on them by popular culture as a way of defining, ordering, and controlling minorities. If they did not come from a long line of Canadians or “white Europeans”, they needed a hyphen to determine who they belonged to. Categories were sharply defined and distinct from one another, and they came with specific conceptualizations of what it meant to belong to the culture. Conceptualizations that were ascribed to them by hegemonic culture. On one hand, categories being sharply defined served two purposes. It allowed outsiders to the culture to “make sense” of them, but it also allowed a sense of familiarity between individuals. It allowed individuals to “hold on to the only roots [they] know?” (James, 2001, p. 19). Regardless if the individual identified with the category, they had a place they belonged to.
Fighting for social and cultural equality can be seen as a...

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