Social Identity and Social Structures and Culture

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Which social processes are more important in shaping individual identity: social structures or culture and socialisation?

Social identity relates to how we identify ourselves in relation to others according to what we have in common. Belonging to a group or being a member gives a sense of belonging and worth. One’s social identity could be categorized according to religion, where they are from, their political views, employment or even relationship. They could be unwantedly placed on a person due to ones behavior, for example, an alcoholic, a homeless person, a drug addict. These along with many other roles, positions and behaviors all play a significant part in creating ones overall social identity. This essay is meant to compare which process is more important in shaping an individual’s identity: Their social structure, being the pattern of social behavior or culture and socialization being the pattern of perception, thinking and feeling. One’s social Identity is based on both of these processors. It is made up from all that makes the person who they are. This essay will instead focus on the importance of both social processes in shaping an individual’s identity. An identity will change and be recreated over and over again throughout a lifetime. As the structure of your society changes, so does your social identity. Social structures are organised into different elements: institutions, social groups, statuses and roles (Mooney, Schacht, 2000) that all link together. An Institution is an established society with common connections; that being family, religion, politics, education, even mass media, medicine, sports and the military. Social groups are defined as two or more people who have a common interest. The family you were raised in is a social group of your family institution, the sports team you play for is a social group of the sport institution. Your status is the position one holds within their social group. Your status may consist of being a...
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