Individuality to Group Identity
Identity is a very difficult idea to grasp. There are an abundant amount of definitions and views for the individual to make sense of. Identity is strictly a self-image derived from patterns of behavior seen in society and attributing characteristics to one’s self, based on similarities or differences. Those similarities or differences could be based on upbringing, physical attributes, goals, or interests. A group then becomes a set of individuals who believe they practically have the same identity. The group brings in thoughts and analysis on how other groups coincide with each other and if other groups share certain interests. Politically, individuals have been able to identify themselves through candidates and elected officials as their personal representation based on their self-given identity. Those who find themselves sharing the same views as certain individuals further solidifies the concept of the group. A political ideology is a collection of ideas and often times is shared by those of a specific group and is used to advance that group in the direction that will support individuals of that group. There are many groups that are the basis of political ideologies; many based on gender, race, social status, economic standing, or any combinations of those. Surveys show that there are noticeable trends in decisions made and viewpoints that correlate with groups. In today’s society these same groups have and continue to impact decisions that are made. As years pass and the world changes, some groups are separating because of altered views and other groups are forming because of the same reasons. In 2010, this concept of group identity is vastly utilized to gain the appeal that will contribute to the campaign of different candidates.
For example, in the past when Barack Obama has spoken in front of predominantly African-American crowds his demeanor has not always been the same when speaking in front of white American crowds. Often times when Obama has chosen to speak in front of black Americans, he has not shied away from choosing places like a barbershop or a church, while in front of masses that would be predominantly white, the settings have more likely been big assembly halls. Additionally, many politicians when speaking in California have made an attempt to use their few words of Spanish, or in New Orleans it is not uncommon if they reference jazz or gumbo. These are models of how many political figures have tapped into group identity to gain appeal. Furthermore, if a multitude of people in a group are in support of a politician, others in that same group are more easily influenced to think the same way.
Not only do political figures use group identities to achieve goals, but so do the individual groups themselves. They have not done so by trying to appeal to other groups, but instead have found ways to acquire recognition. Through that recognition they have set strides on gaining respect and with that respect have questioned the morality of the other groups, so that hopefully their major concerns can be addressed. Groups such as LGBT, Hispanics, and African Americans have been able to have their specific issues attended to by making their voices heard. For instance, In March of 2006 500,000 Hispanics marched in the city of Los Angeles to help “mobilize hundreds of thousands of people against HR 4437, introduced by Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner, and approved Dec. 16 by the House of Representatives in a vote of 239 to 182.” An LGBT march in October of 1987 known as the “Great March,” set an exceptional platform for which the opinions of LGBT could be heard. The fact that the disapproval of gay marriages went from 42% in 1999 to 28% in 2006 demonstrates that these movements based on group identities have been effective. In 2010 the concept of group identity is used to make the same type of impacts.
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