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Sociology: Identity

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Identity has been defined as 'a sense of self that develops as the child differentiates from parents and family and takes a place in society.' (Haralambos et al., 2008, p665) The communities are widely considered to have gone through multifarious fundamental alterations; namely, from urban industrial capitalism economy to post-industrialism economy; from modernity to postmodernity. This essay will critically examined the view with regard to contemporary individuals are no longer firmly bound into fixed communities rather having a greater choice as to identify with each other. Initially, the nature of communities' shift will be analysed, followed by discussions of the factors and manifestation of theories inherent. Industrial capitalism seems to be eventually steered to urbanization of society. In particular, construction of manufactories and basic transportations such as railways had contributed significantly (Fulcher and Scott, 2007, p501). In days gone by, manufacturing sector which emphasized on production and consumption of goods, involved great deals of physical and nature resources; thus, it acquired numerous manual workers, as a result of which industrial societies were emerged to be neighbouring factories due to long working period. The workers socialized within centralised area and had shared basic lifestyle and culture (e.g. folk culture), which gradually formed permanent identity and sense of solidarity; for instance, through inter-marriage, education, religion, occupation and family. ...read more.


suggested they may adopt 'hybrid identities'(In Aiken et al., 2008, p56). There are manifest alterations in women's tendency, which Wilkinson called as 'genderquake' (ibid, p52). In old communities, women were generally expected to have lesser education and engaged in domestic work (e.g. housewives); whereas in contemporary communities, women are gaining equality rights as men. General account of women could be seen held higher qualifications and entered the paid employment, which the growth subsequently led to the recruitment of labour (e.g. maid) from other countries. These have eventually driven to the radical alteration in family structure; whereas Woodward believed, including the decline in marriage and increases of divorce rate (Haralambos et al., 2008, p694). Primary socialisations which occurred within family and kinships connection appears to have profound influence in shaping youth behaviour and identities. In detail, child abuse and single parenthood, which are increasing in contemporary societies, could lead to anti-social behaviour. Correspondingly, intermarriage between ethnicities might undermine certainty of national identity whilst contemporary technology could undermine biological aspects of identity. There are various sociological theories which may have conflict perspectives. Amongst the most influential ones are postmodernism, 'death of class', Marxism, functionalism and feminism. Modernity is claimed to be fragmenting and dissolving, and being superseded by postmodern world (Aiken et al., 2008, p27). Characteristics of postmodernism have been identified in various aspects such as work (e.g. rise of service sector), culture, identity, globalisation and knowledge. ...read more.


'Functionalism views society as a system: that is, as a set of interconnected parts which together form a whole.' (ibid, p856) The sum of all social relationships is the structure of society, which major aspects including family, education and work. These social institutions have concessions on socializing individuals with values and norms to maintain the social order and stability of society (ibid, p857). However, it tends to ignore coercion and conflict and concerned with structure not individuals. There are several feminist approaches. Radical feminism blamed the exploitation of women on men and observed society as patriarchal. Marxist and socialist feminism related women's oppression to the production of wealth and emphasized on exploitation of women in paid employment. Liberal feminism is based upon male assumptions and norms, whereas black feminism see the difference between women are as vital as similarities and shared interests (ibid, p101-104). Some feminists argued that gender remains the dominant source of identity, and that media content sustains and perpetuates the capitalist system and the support role of women. Taking everything into consideration, certain conclusion can be drawn. Globalisation, which is cultural, political, technological and economic, interrelated with consumerism seem to be the main force that has stimulated the growth of 'cultural supermarket effects' which has made cultural identities detached from a specific times, histories, traditions and places, and appear 'free-floating' that subsequently lead to fragmented identities. Individuals consequently no longer firmly attached to fix communities. Howsoever, identities tend to be grounded in inequalities, social divisions and differences. ...read more.

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