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Expression Of Identity.

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Expression Of Identity. Symbols are the basic element in the portrayal of our identities. Our identities are represented through a variety of different types of symbols for example the type of clothes we wear, the words we use or the car we drive are but a few of the many symbols used to portray our identity to others. The definition of a symbol is something that is used for or regarded as representing something else. Esp. a material object representing something immaterial; emblem or sign. (1) We take careful consideration choosing the symbols used to present our image and identity to others. Williamson (1986, pg. 13) suggests that we have a choice in our image selection process and that we realise when we make this choice that other people can interpret and understand our choice. Therefore, we construct our identities from choice, we make an active decision to include and exclude symbols in creating out identities, of which we may have many, and our identities are both active and flexible. ...read more.


A heavy Scottish accent to some may symbolise a lack of education or intelligence whereas a 'Queens English' accent may symbolise a good upbringing and a sound education. Another part of our identity that we have little control over is our gender. Our identity is strongly influenced by feminine and masculine characteristics. This will inevitably play a part in the symbols chosen by each gender in the way they portray their identity for example a gay man may choose to wear feminine type shoes, tight t-shirts or a ring on his little finger so while still dressing like a man he is subtly symbolising his femininity. According to Turner (2) (pg. 47), identity is shaped by self-categorisation, that is people assessing the different social categories and making a decision as to whether or not they fit into a category. If they feel they fit into a category then that category becomes part of their identity. A social category can also be defined as a group, and part of identifying with that group is to conform to standards. ...read more.


This then becomes one of the many symbols that make up our identity. Althussers work sought to link the individual and the social and to show how some social structures work to recruit people into identities. In conclusion, we make an active decision to identify with a particular identity or group and some have more choice in this selection process than others. There are clearly social factors that shape our identity some of which we have little or no control over. Identity is portrayed by a variety of symbols which come from a variety of sources, where we live, our social status, the names we are born with and our choice of clothing. Material, social and physical constraints may prevent us from successfully presenting ourselves and choosing the symbols we would like, for example a low income would not allow us to symbolise the wealth of a middle class wage. Identity is a combination of how I symbolise myself and how others see me. It is ultimately symbols that help us decide which people are the same as us and which are not, which people we wish to socialise with and those, which we do not. ...read more.

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