Mean. Through our social identities, we make statements about who we are and who we are not. Identities that historically had and currently have less resources and influence. The final stage of dominant identity formation is integration. Additionally, legal and social changes have created a more open environment for sexual minorities and people with disabilities. Hence, these cannot be changed for we are born with it. He notes repressing his Chinese identity as an adolescent living in Peru and then later embracing his Chinese identity and learning about his family history while in college in the United States. Also, a young African American man may question his teachers or parents about the value of what he’s learning during Black History Month. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles that may impede our valuing of difference (Allen, 2011). Difference matters because people are treated differently based on their identities and demographics and patterns of interaction are changing. Being stuck in these stages makes it much more difficult to value difference. As an example, some heterosexual people who find out a friend or family member is gay or lesbian may have to confront their dominant heterosexual identity for the first time, which may lead them through these various stages. Individuals may attempt to assimilate into the dominant culture by changing their appearance, their mannerisms, the way they talk, or even their name. Each of us has personal, social, and cultural identities. In order to be accepted as a member of a cultural group, members must be acculturated, essentially learning and using a code that other group members will be able to recognize. Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies. Personal identities are components of self that are primarily intrapersonal and connect to our individual interests and life experiences. Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies, Table 8.1 “Personal, Social, and Cultural Identities”,,9171,1615183,00.html,,,, CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. There are obviously exceptions, with people in groups considered nondominant obtaining more resources and power than a person in a dominant group. With these suggestions in mind, the increasingly common “real-world” event of diversity training is more likely to succeed. Moises, the Chicano man I mentioned earlier, now works to support the Chicano community in his city and also has actively supported gay rights and women’s rights. You may see a person who likes to read science-fiction books, watches documentaries, has glasses, and collects Star Trek memorabilia and … Yep, G. A., “My Three Cultures: Navigating the Multicultural Identity Landscape,” in Intercultural Communication: Experiences and Contexts, eds. These differences are not natural, which can be seen as we unpack how various identities have changed over time in the next section. Identities that are placed on us by others. The first stage is unexamined identity, which is characterized by a lack of awareness of or lack of interest in one’s identity. Dominant identities . For example, racial groupings often are ascribed as well as self-claimed. Although they may be aware of differences—for example, between races and genders—they either don’t realize there is a hierarchy that treats some people differently than others or they don’t think the hierarchy applies to them. However, the overall trend is that difference based on cultural groups has been institutionalized, and exceptions do not change this fact. But it’s important to acknowledge that becoming aware of your white privilege, for instance, doesn’t mean that every person of color is going to want to accept you as an ally, so retreating to them may not be the most productive move. When a person’s lack of interest in their own identity is replaced by an investment in a dominant group’s identity, they may move to the next stage, which is conformity. Comprehensive classifications of sex/gender even provide a place for those who resist them. Many companies conduct mandatory diversity training based on a belief that they will be in a better position in court if a lawsuit is brought against them. If she studies abroad in Africa her junior year, she may be ascribed an identity of American by her new African friends rather than African American. Our membership may be voluntary (Greek organization on campus) or involuntary (family) and explicit (we pay dues to our labor union) or implicit (we purchase and listen to hip-hop music). Objective 5.3 Discuss the differences between ascribed and achieved statuses. Learning about difference and why it matters will help us be more competent communicators. are those that we claim for ourselves. There are other important identities that could be discussed, like religion, age, nationality, and class. Have you ever participated in any diversity training? The intensity with which we avow an identity also changes based on context. Unlike people with a nondominant identity who usually have to acknowledge the positioning of their identity due to discrimination and prejudice they encounter, people with dominant identities may stay in the unexamined stage for a long time. This movement includes people who are hearing impaired and believe that their use of a specific language, American Sign Language (ASL), and other cultural practices constitutes a unique culture, which they symbolize by capitalizing the D in Deaf (Allen, 2011). We all have many aspects to our identities that even *we* don’t even realize we have. However, as we will learn later, developing intercultural communication competence can help us gain new perspectives, become more mindful of our communication, and intervene in some of these negative cycles. My identity as a US American became very salient for me for the first time in my life when I studied abroad in Sweden. Dominant identity formation may include a person moving from unawareness of their identities, to accepting the identity hierarchy, to separation from and guilt regarding the dominant group, to redefining and integrating components of identities. These changes directly affect our interpersonal relationships. I think that you wrote this to a tee it is because people judge others and give others ascribed identities that we have problems like the ones you mentioned. An ascribed identity is one that we give to someone else. You may be wondering how some groups came to be dominant and others nondominant. Other social identities are personally claimed but If so, how? Throughout modern history, cultural and social influences have established dominant and nondominant groups (Allen, 2011). Ascribed identities are personal, social, or cultural identities that are placed on us by others, while avowed identities are those that we claim for ourselves (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). One’s avowed identity is the one that one claims (avows) in an interaction. While our personal identity choices express who we are, our social identities align us with particular groups. Social identities are components of self that are derived from our involvement in social groups to which we are interpersonally invested. Cultural identities are components of self based on socially constructed categories that teach us a way of being and include expectations for our thoughts and behaviors. If the person doesn’t avow that identity, it can create friction, and that label may even hurt the other person’s feelings. (Vedantam, 2008) If diversity training is conducted to advance a company’s business goals and out of an understanding of the advantages that a diversity of background and thought offer a company, then the training is more likely to be successful. Those things are important here as well, but they are important in the context of their impact on you. But ascribed and avowed identities can match up. Discuss the differences between ascribed and achieved statuses. A system of beliefs and practices that produces a physical and mental standard that is projected as normal for a human being and labels deviations from it abnormal. For your cultural identities, which ones are dominant and which ones are nondominant? There are other important identities that could be discussed, like religion, age, nationality, and class. Knowing why and how this came to be and how to navigate our increasingly diverse society can make us more competent communicators. & Kotthoff, H., 2009). are personal, social, or cultural identities that are placed on us by others, while avowed identities Identities that we claim for ourselves. We categorize objects in order to understand them and identify them. We are urged to defend our own identities and schooled to respect those of others. Judith N. Martin, Lisa A. Flores, and Thomas K. Nakayama (Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2002), 61. This chapter is all about helping you to uncover your interpersonal communication preferences. Rather than trying to ignore difference and see each person as a unique individual, we should know the history of how differences came to be so socially and culturally significant and how they continue to affect us today. To extend the previous example, there has been a movement in recent years to reclaim the label nerd and turn it into a positive, and a nerd subculture has been growing in popularity. We are often who we think other people think we are. Because of this lack of recognition of oppression, members of dominant groups may minimize, dismiss, or question the experiences of nondominant groups and view them as “complainers” or “whiners.” Recall from our earlier discussion of identity formation that people with dominant identities may stay in the unexamined or acceptance stages for a long time. Summarize nondominant and dominant identity development. For example, if an interest in online video games leads someone to become a member of a MMORPG, or a massively multiplayer online role-playing game community, that personal identity has led to a social identity that is now interpersonal and more entrenched. Culture is “negotiated,” and as we will learn later in this chapter, culture is dynamic, and cultural changes can be traced and analyzed to better understand why our society is the way it is. Culture is patterned in that there are recognizable widespread similarities among people within a cultural group. Why? You may see a person who likes to read science-fiction books, watches documentaries, has glasses, and collects Star Trek memorabilia and label him or her a nerd. This stage is reached when redefinition is complete and people can integrate their dominant identity into all aspects of their life, finding opportunities to educate others about privilege while also being a responsive ally to people in nondominant identities. My parents sometimes make me feel that I am a child instead of an adult by the way in which they communicate with me. Our parents, friends, teachers, and the media help shape our identities. All these obstacles are common and they are valid. If so, what did you learn or take away from the training? So do I. I also question the practice of youth who take selfies and do sexting. In the acceptance stage, a person with a dominant identity passively or actively accepts that some people are treated differently than others but doesn’t do anything internally or externally to address it. These positions are occupied regardless of efforts or desire. Cultural identities are based on socially constructed categories that teach us a way of being and include expectations for social behavior or ways of acting (Yep, G. A., 2002). In this section, we’ll explore how the cultural identities of race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability have been constructed in the United States and how communication relates to those identities. Personal identities include the components of self that are primarily intrapersonal and connected to our life experiences. Jones Jr., R. G., “Communicating Queer Identities through Personal Narrative and Intersectional Reflexivity” (PhD diss., University of Denver, 2009), 130–32. Difference also matters because demographics and patterns of interaction are changing. This is important because we then tend to react to someone we perceive as a member of an out-group based on the characteristics we attach to the group rather than the individual (Allen, 2011). Nondominant identity formation may include a person moving from unawareness of the importance of their identities, to adopting the values of dominant society, to separating from dominant society, to integrating components of identities. This position, also called a ‘social status’, often decides how a person is to be treated by the rest of the world. Sometimes people ascribe an identity to someone else based on stereotypes. Are there any that relate? If people didn't care so much about what others thought of them then I think we could all rest easier at night. Notes Cultural and Identity:-Ascribed words to describe a person from race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexuallity, gender, ability, social class, and age like a label someone places on you like saying your “white or old male”.-Culture is “negotiated,” and culture is dynamic, and cultural changes can be traced and analyzed to better understand why our society is the way it is. But if an African American becomes president of her college’s Black Student Union, she may more intensely avow her African American identity, which has now become more salient. Although there may still be residual anger from the discrimination and prejudice they have faced, they may direct this energy into positive outlets such as working to end discrimination for their own or other groups. Any of these identity types can be ascribed or avowed. Dominant identity development consists of five stages (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). (Textbook, page 376) 9. Katie Anderson June 2, 2010 at 9:04 PM. Individuals in this stage may also actively try to separate themselves from the dominant group, interacting only with those who share their nondominant identity. The first ascribed identity I would like to address is smart, I think that the groups that are responsible for giving me this identity would be my teachers, parents, and fellow students. We are not who other people think we are. Martin, J. N., and Thomas K. Nakayama, Intercultural Communication in Contexts, 5th ed. While the stages in this model help us understand how many people experience their identities, identity development is complex, and there may be variations. Experts recommend that a company put a staff person in charge of diversity efforts, and some businesses have gone as far as appointing a “chief diversity officer” (Cullen, 2007). (Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2010), 166. For example, I consider myself a puzzle lover, and you may identify as a fan of hip-hop music. While this is not a separatist movement, a person who is hearing impaired may find refuge in such a group after experiencing discrimination from hearing people. Sometimes people ascribe an identity to someone else based on stereotypes. We use social categories like black, white, Australian, Christian, Muslim, student, and bus driver because they are useful. 8. Ascribed status is a term used in sociology that refers to the social status a person is assigned at birth or assumed involuntarily later in life. And people who insist that we are all equal may claim that minorities are exaggerating their circumstances or “whining” and just need to “work harder” or “get over it.” The person making these statements acknowledges difference but doesn’t see their privilege or the institutional perpetuation of various “-isms.” Although I’ve encountered many more people in the passive state of acceptance than the active state, some may progress to an active state where they acknowledge inequality and are proud to be in the “superior” group. Reply. Getting integrated: Review the section that explains why difference matters. Explain why difference matters in the study of culture and identity. In fact, hierarchy and domination, although prevalent throughout modern human history, were likely not the norm among early humans. We can now see that difference matters due to the inequalities that exist among cultural groups and due to changing demographics that affect our personal and social relationships. While our personal identity choices express who we are, our social identities align us with ... social or cultural) can be _ascribed_____ or __avowed_____. Instead, our identities are formed through processes that started before we were born and will continue after we are gone; therefore our identities aren’t something we achieve or complete. As a sign of integration, some may join an organization like PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), where they can be around others who share their dominant identity as heterosexuals but also empathize with their loved ones. In the resistance and separation stage, an individual with a nondominant identity may shift away from the conformity of the previous stage to engage in actions that challenge the dominant identity group. This is because you may think that you should be a person who is thought by others, or you may tell others who you are through your attitude, and people would agree with that image. Obviously one can change nationality by becoming a citizen of another country, although most people do not. So I have to be conscious of that. Ascribed Identities Child, Teacher, Student, Heterosexual, Upper Class, Weak My parents have ascribed the identity of child to me. It is from these cultural influences that our identities are formed. Our identities make up an important part of our self-concept and can be broken down into three main categories: personal, social, and cultural identities (see Table 8.1 “Personal, Social, and Cultural Identities”). Sociologists understand status as having two types: achieved and ascribed. Judith N. Martin and Thomas K. Nakayama, Intercultural Communication in Contexts, 5th ed. I think that there is not to much we can do to overcome our ascribed identities. For example, I have had students who struggle to see that they are in this stage say things like “I know that racism exists, but my parents taught me to be a good person and see everyone as equal.” While this is admirable, seeing everyone as equal doesn’t make it so. Those of us who are biracial, mixed-race, mulatto— whatever you wish to call us—must claim our own words—even if they don’t ring true for others. There are multiple models for examining identity development. For the Africans, their visitor’s identity as American is likely more salient than her identity as someone of African descent. Table 8.1 Personal, Social, and Cultural Identities. Given our focus on how difference matters, we will examine similarities and differences in nondominant and dominant identity formation. So one of the first reasons difference matters is that people and groups are treated unequally, and better understanding how those differences came to be can help us create a more just society. As the adage goes: We are not who we think we are. Non dominant identities. The US Office of Personnel Management offers many good guidelines for conducting diversity training: create learning objectives related to the mission of the organization, use tested and appropriate training methods and materials, provide information about course content and expectations to employees ahead of training, provide the training in a supportive and noncoercive environment, use only experienced and qualified instructors, and monitor/evaluate training and revise as needed (US Office of Personnel Management, 2011). . The flip side of emphasizing difference is to claim that no differences exist and that you see everyone as a human being. Reply Delete. 4 (1996): 318. In a very similar way we categorize people (including ourselves) in order to understand the social environment. Both groups may be restrained from communicating about difference due to norms of political correctness, which may make people feel afraid to speak up because they may be perceived as insensitive or racist. A male participant in a research project on identity said the following about redefining his male identity: I don’t want to assert my maleness the same way that maleness is asserted all around us all the time. In the passive acceptance stage, we must be cautious not to blame individuals with dominant identities for internalizing racist, sexist, or heterosexist “norms.” The socializing institutions we discussed earlier (family, peers, media, religion, and education) often make oppression seem normal and natural. Maurianne Adams, Warren J. Blumfeld, Rosie Casteneda, Heather W. Hackman, Madeline L. Peters, Ximena Zuniga (New York: Routledge, 2000), 9. For example, an African American may not have difficulty deciding which box to check on the demographic section of a survey. US Office of Personnel Management, “Guidelines for Conducting Diversity Training,” Training and Development Policy, accessed October 16, 2011, For example, think of how ways of being and acting have changed for African Americans since the civil rights movement. Jason Riedy – Atlanta Pride Festival parade – CC BY 2.0. The main nondominant groups must face various forms of institutionalized discrimination, including racism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism. Social identities do not change as often because they take more time to develop, as you must become interpersonally invested. By 2030, racial and ethnic minorities will account for one-third of the population (Allen, 2011). Ascribed identities Identities that are placed on us by others. We are acculturated into our various cultural identities in obvious and less obvious ways. Jean-Paul Sartre questioned the fixed nature of the roles we play in life. The integration stage marks a period where individuals with a nondominant identity have achieved a balance between embracing their own identities and valuing other dominant and nondominant identities. That is, we find ourselves in the reflections of the context that we are in, rather than simply in the privacy of our own internal, introspective thoughts. Shipman, T., “Nerds Get Their Revenge as at Last It’s Hip to Be Square,” The Sunday Telegraph, July 22, 2007, 35. Firstly, we get a glimpse of how when certain identities are valued in technologically mediated encounters and there is no other way of establishing those identities, there is some urgency in ‘unmasking’ the other interlocutor before the chat proceeds further on any other footing. There’s that guilt. The chapter begins with an overview of the three core elements that make up your identity. While both are important, it is often the differences that are highlighted and that contribute to communication troubles. Identities that historically had and currently have more resources and influence. Culture is an ongoing negotiation of learned patterns of beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors. List some of your personal, social, and cultural identities. Some organizations are going further than legal compliance to try to create inclusive climates where diversity is valued because of the interpersonal and economic benefits it has the potential to produce. An ascribed status is further divided into two types: Delayed Ascribed Status which is assigned to a person later in life, and Fluid Ascribed Statuswhich is an achieved status influenced heavily by the ascribed status. In either case, many people never progress from this stage. You refuse to choose a sexual identity? Having taught about various types of privilege for years, I’ve encountered many students who want to return their privilege or disown it. A woman comes to the workplace seeing herself as a professional. For example, MC Frontalot, a leader in the nerdcore hip-hop movement, says that being branded a nerd in school was terrible, but now he raps about “nerdy” things like blogs to sold-out crowds (Shipman, 2007). This is probably the ascribed identity that I have tried to resist the most. Any of these identity types can be ascribed or avowed. Ascribed identities are personal, social, or cultural identities that are placed on us by others, while avowed identities are those that we claim for ourselves. Our social identities are the components of self that are derived from involvement in social groups with which we are interpersonally committed. o Avowed and Ascribed identities: We have an image of our own various identities and also the identities of others. Culture is a complicated word to define, as there are at least six common ways that culture is used in the United States. Heterosexual people with gay family members or friends may join the group PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) as a part of the redefinition and/or integration stage of their dominant identity development. It is a position that is neither earned nor chosen but assigned. We don’t only see similarities and differences on an individual level. The unexamined stage of dominant identity formation is similar to nondominant in that individuals in this stage do not think about their or others’ identities. This begins a lifelong process of thinking about who we are now, who we were before, and who we will become (Tatum, B. D., 2000). Personal identity elements are examined using the five-factor personality trait model, on which many personality tests ar… Whenever we encounter someone, we notice similarities and differences. Laws that made it illegal for people of different racial/ethnic groups to marry, Identities that are placed on us by others, Changing from one way of speaking to another within or between interactions, The ability to continually supplement and revise existing knowledge to create new categories rather than forcing new information into old categories, Identities based on socially constructed categories that teach us a way of being and include expectations for social behavior, Dialectic that captures the interplay between patterned behaviors learned from a cultural group and individual behaviors that may be variations on or counter to those of the larger culture, The ongoing renegotiation of learned and patterned beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors, A relationship between two opposing concepts that constantly push and pull one another, Dualistic ways of thinking that highlight opposites, reducing the ability to see gradations that exist in between concepts, Dialectic that allows us to examine how we are simultaneously similar to and different from others, The unequal access to technology and related skills that exists in much of the world, Identities that historically had and currently have more resources and influence, To reduce/overlook important variations within a group, The tendency to view our own culture as superior to other cultures, Identity based on internalized cultural notions of masculinity and femininity and constructed through communication and interaction, The perception that the world is smaller due to new technology that makes travelling and sending messages across great distances faster, Dialectic that reminds us to acknowledge how the past informs our communication in the present, how the present influences our view of the past, and how the past and present will affect our future, Common belief system that makes it seem natural and normal for some people or groups to have power over others, Communication between people with differing cultural identities, Intercultural Communication Competence (ICC), The ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in various cultural contexts, Relationships formed between people with different cultural identities and includes friends, romantic partners, family, and coworkers, A reflective practice by which we acknowledge intersecting identities, both privileged and disadvantaged, and implicate ourselves in social hierarchies and inequalities, Acknowledges that we each have multiple cultures and identities that intersect with each other, Model that places disability as an individual and medical rather than social or cultural issue, A state of self- and other-monitoring that informs later reflection on communication encounters, The root of a person's desire to foster intercultural relationships, which can be intrinsic or extrinsic, Identities that historically had and currently have less resources and influence, System of social structures and practices that maintains the values, priorities, and interests of men as a group, Identities that include components of self that are primarily intrapersonal and connected to our life experiences, Dialectic that highlights the connection between our personal patterns of and preferences for communicating and how various contexts influence the personal, Dialectic that captures the complex interrelation of unearned, systemic advantages and disadvantages that operate among our various identities, A socially constructed category based on differences in appearance that has been used to create hierarchies that privilege some and disadvantage others, Classification based on biological characteristics, including external genitalia, internal sex organs, chromosomes, and hormones, A person's primary emotional and physical attraction and activity, A view that argues the self is formed through our interactions with others and in relationship to social, cultural, and political contexts, Identities that are derived from involvement in social groups with which we are interpersonally committed, Dialectic that suggests culture and communication change over time, yet often appear to be and are experienced as stable, An individual's attitude about and level of comfort in uncertain situations, An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression does not match the gender they were assigned at birth.

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