Identity - Referat
Stephen R. Covey, an American Bestselling Author once said: “I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my choices” He wrote several books about management methods and self-help. His quote points towards how Identity is formed and influenced. He states that your choices and how you live form your Identity more than the circumstances given to you by birth or your family. Now the question is if his quotation is legitimate or just his impression which can not be shared.
First of all, how is Identity defined? Identity is who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that make them different from others.
One of the primary things people usually realize about a person is the person's background. This background can be seen as one of the circumstances that contribute to your Identity. The biggest part of those is probably your origin. A person in an industrialized country has a different standard of living, as well as different values from a person who is born in an emerging country. If you compare a girl that lives in the United States of America to a girl that lives in Namibia there are more differences than just the Motherland. They have a different chance to get an education, access to medical care or access to clean water. And those are only the points that are given to them because of where they are born! The cultural differences between the two countries go on with the role a woman or wife plays in a family or the status that religion has in their lives.
The cultural and local conditions are only the foundation of identity. A person's color, ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation, religion or financial status contribute to Identity aswell. Those circumstances have a big impact on the dynamics of identity. That means that people who belong to a disadvantaged group in society (e.g. black people in the USA or women compared to men) identify more with their "exceptional" or "weak" origin. This psychological phenomenon was discovered by Beverly Tatum ("The complexity of identity", in: Readings for diversity and social justice, New York 2000). As a consequence of this personality and identity change differently between different ethnic groups.
But on the other hand side, all of those circumstances lead to the choices we make that affect our identity. We can choose our beliefs no matter where we live. There are countries where Christians, Jews or Muslims are persecuted but the people decide to live with that religion and this religion becomes a part of their personality.
Furthermore, identity is dynamic and it can change over time. That leads to the cause that the identity of a three-year-old is different from the identity of a sixty-year-old. There are also twin studies that show that identical twins who are separated after birth develop different personalities and identify differently. That leads to the discovery that children who share the same DNA but grow up in different households and families develop different personalities.
Scientists and Psychologists nowadays say that about 20 Percent of our Identity is given to us by birth, the remaining 80 Percent are formed by the social surroundings we have and choose. Those are our friends, the education we choose, the job we work in and many more. Some people might say that those are limited to the circumstances we have (like color or origin), nevertheless, we can choose our group of friends and the people we interact with relatively freely.
Weighing the pros and cons one comes to the conclusion that a persons identity is a mixture between the circumstances one is born with and the choices he or she makes. The foundation our identity has by our origin and family we are born in is being completed by the choices we make. By comparing the different arguments I think that people can have every identity and personality they want they just have different starting points and the likelihood to become a certain person is different because of where and in which circumstances we are born.
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