Second place: Self-identity in the midst of a culture fostered by individualism
Self-identity in the midst of a culture fostered by individualism
The Americans are typically perceived as highly individualistic people. The impression is created due to the portrayal that mass media has glorified of the westerners. However, amidst these personifications there are several different factors that help form one’s self-concept. It is easy to fashion and identify one’s self with what media has formulated because conditioning plays a major role in the development of self-identity. This paper will try to assess how much of the concepts that the community have about a person affects one’s self impression.
COLLECTIVISM AND INDIVIDUALISM
Almost every nation in the world operates and lives in a patriarchal society. This is a society ruled by men, where men leads and holds the most important role in the community. In support of this claim majority of the countries in the world are run by powerful and influential men. For example, a man has always ruled the most powerful country in the world—the United States of America. To give men the benefit of the doubt, this system has been around for such a long time that it is difficult to assume that this is a practice that intentionally discriminate women.
While the plethora of conflicting beliefs and ideologies between nations of a different race had been passed down from generation to generation, the issue of gender difference resulting to discrimination also intensifies. However, it is not to generalize the entire population of every culture. It is simply to state that while many humanitarian groups are advocating for a unified nation that embraces diversity, division still exist and persist to prevail in several organizations.
In a recent study it reveals that organizations implement all sorts and forms of diversity because it creates a positive reputation (Bear, Rahman and Post). While this result is mostly true, there are different circumstances that trigger the unjust and unethical treatment of individuals in various setting especially with the accessibility of the internet. In 2008, American companies were compared to its European counterparts in terms of effective management of workforce diversity. The comparison revealed that 52% of American companies have existing policies on diversity management (Groschl). However, such policies not always guarantee that discrimination will not prevail. In fact, even companies that have been consistently identified as one of the best places to work for have discrimination cases up in their sleeves (Mujtaba).
The concept of diversity is broad. While the term diversity largely refers to individual differences, it also accounts for individuality and uniqueness. People are widely aware that no two individuals are alike regardless of affiliation and consanguinity. Diversity is not limited to cultural aspects like tradition, beliefs and ideologies. It also includes people’s differences in terms of physical, mental and psychological characteristics that are defined by their gender. Organizations are too focused to discrimination being limited only to racial issues.
From the given perspective, it shows how certain groups like gender and race helps contribute to a collectivist behavior. Individuals exposed to this system are most like to adapt the belief that who they are is based on these particular ideologies. A child raised in a family where men dominates the women is most like to be conditioned into believing that men should always be above and superior to women. If a child is a boy, then he could grow up thinking that men should never be subordinate to women, whereas if the child is a girl, she could grow up very insecure, submissive and timid. The upbringing of the child, therefore, has an implication towards whom and what they will become in the future.
Individualism and collectivism offer conflicting ideologies, one principle suggesting the concept of self-determination, the other fostering the interdependence. On both accounts, these two principles offer something positive and enlightening for the individual. Individualism allows for a person to stand to their own and work on their own strengths and weaknesses. It allows the opportunity for growth and development without having to rely on other people to provide the necessary resources to achieve one’s personal goals and objectives. On the other hand, collectivism also has a positive side. It fosters brotherhood and camaraderie. It helps people build their networks and have a solid support group to aid in accomplishing a task. As the saying goes, two head are better than one and this is what collectivism encourages.
However, there is another side to this. Individualism can deter a person from achieving his full potential without the support of other people. As the saying goes, no man is an island. Everyone would necessarily need other people to survive. The impression that others have can help us build ourselves and better ourselves. A perfect example for this is through constructive criticism that are usually mistaken or more commonly perceived as stereotypes.
After understanding how individualism and collectivism works in the society and its influence on creating self-identity, it is important to realize that people should be able to balance both principles in their lives. One could not embrace one and denounce the other and expect that he or she will have a solid personality or concept of himself or herself. Practicing both at equal levels would allow a person to reap the benefits of both ideologies.
There is nothing wrong with identifying with a group nor is there anything wrong with seeking independence. However, anything in excess and taken out of balance can disturb the equilibrium that would produce stability.