Understanding the Role of Cultural IdentityReflect on the following statement: “
Understanding the Role of Cultural IdentityReflect on the following statement: “competent communication is achieved when the participants find commonality in ascribed and avowed identities" (Samovar, 2017, p. 263). What does this imply for human service organizations that work with a wide diversity of populations and organizations in the macro environment? Choose two types of identities described in Chapter 7 of your Communication Between Cultures text and explain their importance for human service leaders from the standpoint of macro practice.ReferenceSamovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., McDaniel, E. R., & Roy, C. S. (2017). Communication between cultures (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage.Identity is a term frequently used in media reports, popular culture discussions, academic studies, and numerous other contexts, but all too often it is inadequately defined or explained. Even here, you are probably wondering why identity has its own chapter in an intercultural communication textbook. A very good question, and by the end of this chapter you should have an answer as well as greater insight as to what identity is and an appreciation for the complexity of the concept.Identity is a multifaceted, dynamic, abstract concept that plays an integral role in daily communicative interactions and particularly in intercultural communication. The accelerated mixing of cultures arising from globalization has added to the complexity of identity through increased immigration, cross-cultural marriage, international adoption, and an overall broadening of opportunities for people of different cultures to meet and interact across a variety of professional and social settings.Because identity is so pervasive in social interactions and can be such a critical factor in intercultural communication, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of what it entails. To help you attain that understanding, we begin by providing a theoretical definition of identity. This is followed by a discussion of how identity influences social roles and guides social behaviors. We then examine a few of your many social identities and the different ways they are acquired and developed. A discussion of the different ways that you establish and enact your various identities and the role they play in communication is then provided. Next, the growing phenomenon of binational and multiethnic identities emerging from the globalized social order is examined. Finally, the chapter concludes with a brief discussion on ways of developing competency when dealing with people possessing dissimilar identities in intercultural communication interactions.IDENTITY: DEFINING THE CONCEPTAs we have just indicated, identity is an abstract, complex, dynamic, and socially constructed concept. As a result, identity is not easily defined, and scholars have provided a rich variety of descriptions. For instance, Tracy finds identity to be both inclusive and contradictory: “Identities, then, are best thought of as stable features of persons that exist prior to any particular situation and as dynamic and situated accomplishments, enacted through talk, changing from one occasion to the next. Similarly, identities are social categories and are personal and unique.”1 Ting-Toomey echoes this inclusive nature when she considers identity to be the “reflective self-conception or self-image that we derive from our family, gender, cultural, ethnic and individual socialization processes. Identity basically refers to the reflective views of ourselves and other perceptions of our self-images”2CONSIDER THISWho am I? Who and what help to define me? Pause for a moment and reflect on those two questions. Write down a few of your thoughts. The answers you produce will provide insights into some of your many identities and the sources of those identities.These two definitions treat identity in a broad sense, but some communication scholars address “cultural identity” more specifically. For instance, Fong contends, “culture and cultural identity in the study of intercultural relations have become umbrella terms that subsume racial and ethnic identity.”3 Fong goes on to define cultural identity as “the identification of communications of a shared system of symbolic verbal and nonverbal behavior that are meaningful to group members who have a sense of belonging and who share traditions, heritage, language, and similar norms of appropriate behavior. Cultural identity is a social construction.”4Cultural identity for Ting-Toomey and Chung is “the emotional significance that we attach to our sense of belonging or affiliation with the larger culture”5 Klyukanov sees cultural identity as “membership in a group in which all people share the same symbolic meanings.”6 Dervin defines cultural identity as “what we construct whenever we are in contact with other human beings—regardless of the fact that they are from the same ‘environment or not”7 This series of definitions is not an attempt to confuse you. Instead, we are trying to demonstrate that due to its complexity and abstractness, it is difficult to construct a single, concise definition of identity that will be agreed on by everyone across the various academic disciplines. Some of the definitions use “identity,” while others rely on “cultural identity.” However, as we will illustrate throughout this chapter, we believe that culture plays a role in each of your many identities, no matter how they are acquired.Regardless of the definition or term used, it is important to recognize that identities are dynamic and multiple. Throughout life you are continually acquiring new identities and discarding old ones. To illustrate these two points—dynamic and multiple identities—reflect on how you identified yourself in grade school, in high school, and after entering college. As you grew older, you gained new identities and left behind some old ones. For instance, after graduation from high school, you set aside many of the identities you had and on entering the university, acquired new ones. However, you also retained some of your previous identities, such as the regional identity of your hometown and state. Perhaps you gave up your identity as a member of a high school sports team or being in the band. In college you may have taken the identity of a sorority or fraternity member, and in that case you also assumed the identity of the specific organization.People have a number of different identities as they move through life.It should be clear that identity is not a single entity but a composite of multiple, integrated identities; they do not work in isolation, but rather operate in combination based on the social context or situation. For example, when you are in the classroom, your identity as a student takes priority, but you are still a male or a female, a friend to some of your classmates, perhaps an employee, a son or daughter, and for some, even a wife or a husband. Identities can also be associated with the sports teams you root for, your favorite genre of music, and many other aspects of your social life.REMEMBER THISIdentity is not a single entity. But rather it is a combination of multiple integrated identities that operate in combination based on the social context or situation.To better comprehend people’s seemingly countless identities, researchers have constructed taxonomies categorizing the different types. Turner provides three identity categories— human, social, and personal.8 Human identities are those perceptions of self that link you to the whole of humanity and separate you from other life forms. Social identities are represented by the many groups you belong to, such as racial, ethnic, occupational, age, hometown, and numerous others. Social identities are a result of being a member of some social groups and nonmember of others (i.e., the in-group/out-group dichotomy). Personal identity is what sets you apart from other in-group members and marks you as special or unique. This form of identity can come from an innate talent, such as the ability to play a musical instrument without formal training or from some special achievement, like winning an Olympic gold medal. Personal identity can also come from something as intangible as a gregarious personality.Hall’s three identity categories are similar—personal, relational, and communal. Personal identities are those that set you apart from other people and make you distinct. Relational identities are a product of your relationships with other people, such as husband/wife, teacher/student, and supervisor/employee. Communal identities are “typically associated with large-scale [social] communities, such as nationality, ethnicity, gender, or religious or political affiliation.”9Hall’s communal identities are essentially the same as Taylor’s social identities, and these identities carry importance during intercultural communication interaction, which is made clear in Gudykunst’s explication of social identity:Our social identities can be based on our memberships in demographic categories (e.g., nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, social class), the roles we play (e .g ., student, professor, parent), our memberships in formal or informal organizations (e.g., political parties, social clubs), our associations or vocations (e.g., scientists, artists, gardeners) or our memberships in stigmatized groups (e.g., homeless, people with AIDS ).10The objective of this discussion has been to provide a theoretical understanding of identity and illustrate that you have a variety of identities, which can change as a result of the social context. Because of its great relevance to intercultural communication interaction and study, we will now look at the influence of identity.THE INFLUENCE OF IDENTITYIdentity represents an extremely important psychological component for the individual. Phinney writes that adolescents who fail to develop a “secure identity are faced with identity confusion, a lack of clarity about who they are and what their role is in life.”11 From this perspective, the need to understand your sense of identity is obvious.The 2010 census survey was only the second time that respondents could indicate belonging to more than a single race. Over 9 million U.S. Americans, 2.7 percent of the respondents, identified themselves as belonging to two or more races, a 32 percent increase from the 2000 census.12 Although not included in the 2010 census survey, a question on the 2000 census form allowed individuals to write in their “ancestry or ethnic origin,” which resulted in “about 500 different ancestries” being reported, with ninety of those categories having U.S. populations exceeding 100,000.13 These figures illustrate the ethnic diversity in the United States and the level of awareness that people have about their identities. The dynamics of globalization have also made identity an important factor in contemporary social life. In other words, as people struggle to adapt to the new technology-driven social order, the push of globalization and pull of traditional norms are becoming considerations in how they live their lives and with whom they interact.The study of identity in intercultural communication tends to focus on how identity influences and guides expectations about one’s own and others social roles and provides guidelines for communicating with others.14 For example, the cultural model for university classroom interaction in the United States is defined as studentcentered because students are free to interrupt lectures to ask questions, offer personal opinions, and respectfully question the professor’s claims. Also, students are aware that they may be called on to answer questions about the lesson, which instills a motivation to come to class prepared. One’s identity as a professor or a student provides the blueprint for assuming the appropriate U.S. classroom behavioral role. But is that blueprint applicable to other cultures? The short answer is, “No.” China and Japan, both of which are collective, hierarchical cultures, usually adhere to an instructor-centered blueprint. While the identity roles are the same as in the United States, the culturally instilled expectations are quite different. Normally, Japanese university students do not expect to be asked questions in class, and they seldom interrupt the professor’s lecture. Culturally established norms can also be seen in the way occupational identity can influence intercultural communication. In many cultures, teachers are afforded considerable social respect and shown deference by both students and the population as a whole. In the United States, however, status is more a function of material gain, and educators do not usually occupy an especially elevated societal position.While somewhat oversimplified, these examples demonstrate the importance of understanding the role of identity in an intercultural environment. There are, of course, many more reasons to gain an appreciation of identity and its influence on intercultural communication, but the above discussion should convince you of the benefits of a greater awareness of your own identity and that of others. To help you with that task, we will discuss some of your many social identities and examine how they are influenced by culture.EXAMINING SOCIAL IDENTITIESAs noted earlier, it is important to recognize that your identity is actually a product of multiple identities, sometimes acting in concert and at other times acting singularly. The community you are born into and those that you elect to belong to constitute a large part of your identity. And while identity serves to bind us to a larger group and makes us feel part of something bigger and more enduring, it can also isolate and even alienate us from other groups.15 The schism between Shia and Sunni Muslims exemplifies how identity can contribute to alienation.The salience of any identity generally varies according to the social context. As situations vary, you usually choose to emphasize one or more of your identities. In the classroom, identity as a student is paramount, but at work, occupational and organizational identities take precedence. When visiting your parents, you are first a daughter or son. In any context, however, other identities, such as race and biological sex, are also present, albeit usually in a secondary role.REMEMBER THISIdentities such as race and biological sex are always present, albeit usually in a secondary role. However, regardless of the identity or identities being exhibited, all are influenced to various degrees by culture.Regardless of the identity or identities on display, all are influenced to various degrees by culture. In this section we will examine a few of your many identities and illustrate how each is influenced by culture.RACIAL IDENTITYPerhaps the most important single aspect to remember about race is that it is a social construct arising from historical attempts to categorize people into different groups. The concept grew out of efforts by eighteenth-century European anthropologists to place people into hierarchically ranked categories based largely on their outward appearance. In retrospect, it is easy to see how those early endeavors were influenced by feelings of prejudice and ethnocentrism grounded in a strong sense of Western superiority. This concept of classifying groups of peoples as superior or inferior has, unfortunately, “been used as justification for brutalities ranging from repression to slavery to mass murder and genocide.”16 Today, racial classifications and identity are usually associated with a person’s external physical traits—principally skin color but also physiognomy and hair texture. Modern science, however, has discovered very little genetic variation among human beings, which erodes the belief that race can be used to categorize people. The concept is further discredited by centuries of genetic intermixing.17However, as in many other countries, social categorization employing racial identity persists in the United States, no doubt abetted by the historical legacy of slavery, early persecution of American Indians, and issues of civil rights. The vestiges of early racial differentiation can be seen in question 9 of the 2010 census form, which offered respondents a choice of fifteen different racial categories, and clearly confused race (e.g., White, Black) with nationality and ethnicity (e.g., Chinese, Guamanian).18 More recently, issues of racial differentiation have become prominent in discussions on immigration and the relationship between police forces and minority community members.Although “race” remains a commonly used term in the United States, it is usually ill defined and often used interchangeably with the term “ethnic group.” This lack of a clear definition and resulting confusion leads us to agree with Kottak and Kozaitis’s recommendation that “it is better to use the term ethnic group instead of race to describe any such social group, for example, African Americans, Asian Americans, Irish Americans, Anglo Americans, or Hispanics.” 19GENDER IDENTITYGender identity is quite different from biological sex or sexual identity, which is derived from an individual’s anatomy at birth. Gender is a socially constructed concept that refers to how a particular culture differentiates masculine and feminine social roles. Ting-Toomey considers gender identity as “the meanings and interpretations we hold concerning our self-images and expected other-images of ‘femaleness’ and ‘maleness.’”20Gender identity refers to ways particular cultures and cocultures differentiate masculine and feminine roles.What constitutes displays of gender identity varies across cultures and is constantly changing. For instance, the normative U.S. male appearance in the 1960s was characterized by long hair, often accompanied by beards and mustaches, as typified in the counterculture rock musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. Today, however, style dictates short or no hair, which is evident in the many advertisements for men's fashions. The growing number of men opting for colored nails, including toenails, is another indication of changing male gender appearance.21 In Japanese certain words are traditionally reserved for use by women exclusively, while men use entirely different words to express the same meaning. In English there is little or no distinction between male and female vocabulary.A culture’s gender norms can also influence career decisions. For instance, male flight attendants are common on U.S. airlines, but in Northeast Asia the occupation is almost exclusively the domain of women. Traditionally, most people in the United States viewed nursing as a woman’s occupation.22 This was evidenced by the 1970 statistic reporting that only 2.7 percent of all U.S. registered nurses were male. However, in another indication of changing attitudes about gender roles and identity, by 2011 the figure had risen to 9.6 percent.23In contrast to the rigid, binary classifications of either male or female traditionally used in the United States, many European nations, and the Middle East, there are a few cultures that offer a socially acceptable middle ground for transgender individuals. Some Native American Indian tribes historically held transgender individuals in high esteem, considering them to be blessed with the spirit of both man and woman.24 Thailand’s kathoeys, or “lady boys” do experience some discrimination but enjoy more social acceptance than their U.S. counterparts.25 In South Asia, the Hijras, generally men who assume feminine identities, are viewed as neither male nor female but rather as a third gender.26 In the United States, public media shows, such as the comedy-drama Orange is the New Black, have raised awareness of the country’s approximately 1.5 million transgendered individuals and eroded the conventional societal idea of gender as being only male or female.27Ethnic identity, like all identities, can be communicated through art forms that are unique to a particular ethnicity.ETHNIC IDENTITYAs stated earlier, racial identity is traditionally tied to one’s biological ancestry, which results in similar physical characteristics in skin tone, facial characteristics, eye shape, etc. Ethnic identity, or ethnicity, on the other hand, is derived from a sense of shared heritage, history, traditions, values, similar behaviors, geographical area of origin, and in some instances, language.28Most people consider their ethnic identity to come from the nation-state where they or their forefathers were born—German or German American, for example. However, some people’s ethnic identity is derived from a cultural grouping that transcends national borders and is grounded in common cultural beliefs, practices, and in many cases, a shared language. The three groups listed below are illustrative:The Basques, located along the Spanish-French border, who speak EuskaraThe Kurds, a large ethnic group in northeast Iraq, with communities in Iran, Syria, and Turkey, who speak KurdishThe Roma (more commonly called Gypsies), scattered across Eastern and Western Europe, who speak RomaniAs mentioned above, many U.S. Americans view their ethnicity as a product of their ancestor’ home of origin prior to immigrating to the United States, such as Italy, Mexico, Vietnam, Liberia, or any one of a host of other geographic locations. Members of generations following the original immigrants frequently refer to themselves using such terms as “Italian-American,” “Mexican-American,” or “Vietnamese-American.” For Chen, the hyphen both separates and connects the two social groupings.29The United States is commonly characterized as a nation of immigrants, and during the nation’s formative years, new arrivals often grouped together in a specific location or region to form ethnic communities, such as Germantown, Pennsylvania, founded by German settlers. Some of these communities continue today, as seen in San Francisco’s Chinatown and Little Italy in New York. Newer ethnic enclaves, like Little Saigon in the Los Angeles area and Hong communities in Saint Paul, Minnesota, have developed in the wake of more recent immigrant arrivals. In these areas, the peoples sense of ethnic identity tends to remain strong because traditional cultural practices, beliefs, values, religion, and often language are followed and perpetuated. However, as time passes, members of the younger generations often may move to areas of greater ethnic diversity and many marry into other ethnic groups. For some, this may dilute their feelings of ethnic identity and today it is not uncommon to hear U.S. Americans explain their ethnicity by offering a lengthy historical account of their family’s many ethnic mergings. Others, especially those with a Euro-American heritage, will often simply refer to themselves as “just an American” or even “a white American.” Frequently, they are members of the U.S. dominant culture that grew out of Judeo-Christian religious traditions imported from Western Europe and whose lineage is characterized by an extensive history of interethnic Euro-American marriages.CONSIDER THISHow have you observed the dominant cultural values of the United States coming into contact with people of different nationalities or ethnicities? What have been some of the effects, both positive and negative, of these contacts as they apply to the beliefs and values of the dominant culture?NATIONAL IDENTITYThe majority of people associate their national identity with the nation where they were born. However, national identity can also be acquired through immigration and naturalization. People who take citizenship in a country other than their birthplace may eventually adopt some or all aspects of a new national identity, depending on the strength of their attachment to their new homeland. This attachment can be influenced by where the individual resides. For example, someone originally from Mexico may retain strong ties to their native land if they settle in the southwestern United States, where there is a large Mexican immigrant community. Strong nationalistic ties can be sustained in an immigrant enclave, like Little Saigon, in Orange County, California, where displaying the flag of the former South Vietnam government remains common practice. Alternatively, those ties may be eroded if the new arrival settles in an area of the United States that has a limited demography. Normally, national identity becomes more pronounced when people are away from their home country. When asked where they are from, international travelers will usually respond with their national identity, for example, “I'm from South Korea.” In some cases, however, a regional or local affiliation can outweigh nationality. Texans, for instance, are noted for identifying themselves as being from Texas rather than from “the United States.” Strong and sometimes emotional displays of national identity are common at international sporting events, such as the World Cup or the Olympics.As indicated earlier, identity is dynamic and can change contextually over time. A particularly interesting example of this dynamism is ongoing in the European Union (EU) where younger generations are moving away from the national identity of their parents and adopting what might be termed a “transnational” identity. According to Reid, many young adults from the EU tend to “think of ‘Europe as their native land.”30 A particularly prominent display of this emerging attitude came from Anne (Ana) Hidalgo, the first woman to be elected mayor of Paris, France. Ms. Hidalgo was born in Spain, immigrated to France with her parents, and subsequently took French citizenship. When asked during an interview in 2014 if she felt Spanish or French, Ms. Hidalgo responded, “I feel European.”31Most nations are home to a number of different cultural groups, but one group usually exercises the most power and is often referred to as the dominant culture because its members maintain control of economic, governmental, and institutional organizations. This control leads to the establishment of a “national character,” as defined by Allport: “ ‘National character implies that members of a nation, despite ethnic, racial, religious, or individual differences among them, do resemble one another in certain fundamental matters of belief and conduct, more than they resemble members of other nations.”32In the United States the dominant culture is considered to be people with Western European ethnicity, and the cultural traits arising from that heritage are ascribed to the nation as a whole and referred to as the “national character.” The advent of globalization, however, has brought challenges to the primacy of U.S. dominant cultural values as people of different nationalities, ethnicities, and varied beliefs and values increasingly come into contact with each other. The “transnationalism promoted by globalization has also given rise to growing numbers of individuals with dual citizenship who carry two passports.33National identity often plays a central role in contemporary geopolitics. In some instances national identity is seen as a panacea for overcoming divisions created by tribal ethnicities. For example, in an effort to heal the wounds of the 1994 conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes, a struggle that claimed over 800,000 lives, the Rwandan government has outlawed references to tribal ethnicity and is seeking to have new generations see themselves only as Rwandans.34 A similar effort was undertaken in Afghanistan, where U.S. military trainers worked to create a sense of nationality among Afghan soldiers that would transcend culturally instilled tribal loyalities.35 The crisis in Ukraine, which resulted in a commercial airliner being shot down in 2014, has its basis in a question of national identity—the Ukrainians see themselves being more oriented toward Europe, but the nation’s Russian-speaking minority maintain allegiance to Moscow.36 And political divisions resulting from war have imposed different national identities on residents of North and South Korea.REGIONAL IDENTITYWith the exception of very small nations like Lichtenstein, Monaco, or San Marino, every country can be divided into a number of different geographical regions, that are often characterized by varying cultural traits. These cultural contrasts may be manifested through ethnicity, language, accent, dialect, customs, food, dress, or different historical and political legacies. Residents in these areas often use one or more of those characteristics to exhibit their regional identity. For example, although the population of Belgium is just over 10 million, the country has three official languages— Dutch, French, and German, spoken by the Flemish, Walloon, and German ethnic groups, respectively, living in the Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels areas. Thus, individuals from the northern part of Belgium are likely to identify themselves as Dutchspeaking (linguistic and ethnic identity) Belgians (national identity) from Flanders (regional identity).In the United States, state boundary lines define many regional identities, and almost everyone is proud of his or her home state. Louisiana is marked by a variety of distinct cultural traditions and in the Bayou Country, a regional language (Cajun French) derived from its Acadian French historical heritage. Residents of Alaska, California, and Texas offer prime examples of pride in regional identity. U.S. regional identity can also be based on a larger or smaller geographical area, such as New England, “back East” (i.e., East Coast), “down South” (i.e., southeastern United States), “West Texas,” or “Southern California.”Regional identity in Japan is manifested through a variety of different dialects (e.g., Kanto, Kansai, Tohoku, etc.), and some of the dialects (e.g., Kagoshima and Tohoku) are difficult for Japanese from other regions to understand. Japanese living abroad often form clubs based on their home prefecture and hold periodic gatherings to celebrate their common traditions. In China, the majority Han ethnic group is also characterized by regional differences such as linguistic variation (e.g., Mandarin, Hakka, and Min), cuisine (e.g., Cantonese and Szechuan), and housing styles (e.g., wood in the south and brick in the north). Although reunited in 1990, East and West German identities remain a reality among the older generation. Mexicans demonstrate their regional identity when they tell you they are from Sinaloa, Michoacán, Oaxaca, or Mexico City.ORGANIZATIONAL IDENTITYA person's organizational affiliation(s) can be an important source of identity in some cultures. This is especially true in collectivistic cultures but much less so in individualistic cultures. This dichotomy is clearly illustrated by contrasting organizational identity practices in Japan, a strongly group-oriented culture, with those in the United States, a very individualistic culture. Although becoming less prevalent, especially among younger workers, Japanese businessmen employed by large corporations have traditionally worn a small lapel pin to signal their company affiliation. There is no similar practice among managers and executives in the United States, although in some instances a polo shirt or a tie with a company logo may be worn.Organizational identity is so important in Japan that in business introductions, the company’s name is given before the individual’s name. For example, Ms. Suzuki, an employee at Tokyo Bank, would be introduced as Tōkyō Ginkō no Suzuki san (“Ms. Suzuki of Tokyo Bank”). But in the United States, an individual is introduced first by his or her name, followed by their organizational affiliation (e.g., “This is Mr. Smith from ABC Construction Corporation”). On Japanese business cards the company and the individual’s position are placed above his or her name. On U.S. business cards, the company name is normally at the top, followed by the individual’s name in large, bold letters, with organizational position under the name in smaller type. These illustrations offer insight into how collective cultures stress identity through group membership, and individualistic cultures emphasize individual identity. The examples also demonstrate how hierarchy is emphasized in Japan and egalitarianism is stressed in the United States. In other words, among the Japanese the school you attended and the company you work for are indicators of your personal status. Although there are, of course, some status differentials among U.S. schools and corporations, they exert far less influence than in Japan.There are many identities that play significant roles in the daily lives of peopleidentities they share in a very personal way.PERSONAL IDENTITYAs noted earlier, your personal identity arises from those characteristics that set you apart from others in your in-group—those things that make you unique and influence how you see yourself. Scholars typically use the term “self-construal” to denote how individuals view themselves in relation to others.37 Research by social and cultural psychologists has disclosed that an individual possesses an independent, an interdependent, and a relational self-construal and that “cultural differences in self-definition arise through differences in the relative strength or elaboration of these self-construals.”38 People from individualistic cultures, such as in the United States and Western Europe, with a high level of independent self-construal are likely to be self-promoting and favor direct communication. Conversely, someone of a collectivistic-oriented culture, such as those in Northeast Asia, may tend to emphasize their group membership and prefer indirect communication. Relational self-construal, according to Cross and her colleagues, can be considered a global dimension that expresses the degree to which people define themselves by their close, dyadic relationships (e.g., relationship with spouse, child, sibling, close friend, etc.).39 Someone motivated by relational self-construal can be expected to engage in efforts to enhance that relationship.CYBERIDENTITY AND FANTASY IDENTITYOur lives increasingly focus around the Internet. On a near daily basis, we spend time online engaged in a variety of activities—communicating, searching for information, shopping, seeking leisure, conducting work-related tasks, social exchanges, and a variety of other endeavors. It is common to see people in a coffee shop working on a laptop or walking along absorbed in some type of activity on their mobile device. The Internet allows you quickly and easily to access and exchange information on a worldwide basis. As Suler informs us, the Internet also provides an opportunity to escape the constraints of our everyday identities:One of the interesting things about the Internet is the opportunity it offers people to present themselves in a variety of different ways. You can alter your style of being just slightly or indulge in wild experiments with your identity by changing your age, history, personality, and physical appearance, even your gender. The username you choose, the details you do or don’t indicate about yourself, the information presented on your personal web page, the persona or avatar you assume in an online community—all are important aspects of how people manage their identity in cyberspace.40The Internet allows individuals to select and promote what they consider the positive features of their identity and omit any perceived negative elements or even construct an “imaginary persona.” The Internet is replete with a variety of websites, such as Internet forums, online chat rooms, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), and massively multiplayer online worlds (MMOW) that construct a computer-driven virtual environment allowing users to construct a cyberidentity, that may or may not correspond to their actual identity. Infatuation with these invented identities can become so strong they can “take on a life of their own.”41CONSIDER THISHow does the Internet allow for individuals to select and promote what they consider the positive features of their identity and omit any perceived negative elements, or even construct an “imaginary persona”? What are some dangers of this feature of the Internet?Fantasy identity, which also extends across cultures, centers on characters from science fiction movies, comic books (manga), and anime. Every year, people attend domestic and international conventions devoted to these subjects. For example, the 2014 Hong Kong Ani-Com and Games convention drew a record attendance of 752,000 and attracted 550 commercial exhibitors.42 Comic-Con International has been held annually in San Diego, California, since 1970, and in 2014 attendance exceeded 130,000.43 At these gatherings many attendees come dressed, individually or in groups, as their favorite fantasy character(s). For a few hours or days, they assume, enact, and communicate the identity of their favorite media character. But conventions are not the only opportunity for people to indulge their fantasy identities. “Cosplay” (short for “costume play”) is another venue that lets people attend events or parties dressed as media characters.OTHER IDENTITIESSpace limitations preclude our addressing the many other forms of culturally influenced identity that play a significant role in the daily lives of people. For example, we have not examined the role of religion, which occupies a significant place in the lives of many people. To illustrate, New York City is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel,44 and a visit to Brooklyn will demonstrate the important role that religion plays in the identity of the Jewish community, especially the large number of Hasidic Jews, who adhere to a strict dress code and diet. Christian women often include a cross in their accessory wardrobe, and the hijab head covering and the abaya cloak represent a part of many Muslim women’s identity.45 Age, political affiliation, socioeconomic class, physical ability, and minority status, all of which are part of most individuals’ culturally influenced identity, have not been addressed. Nor have we examined the very important role that tribal identity plays in such places as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan. Indeed, much of the ongoing Middle East conflict can be attributed to renascent tribal affiliation, which became prominent after several of the authoritarian leaders were removed from power.46 However, the various identities discussed here should provide you with insight into the complexity of the topic and the important influence of culture on identity. Let us look now at how we acquire our identities.IDENTITY ACQUISITION AND DEVELOPMENTAs previously discussed, identities are a product of contact with others. Ting-Toomey sees identities as being acquired and developed “through interaction with others in their cultural group.”47 Thus, your individual identity(ies) are derived from your larger group identities (e.g., you can only identify as a male, daughter, college student, etc. due to the existence of the larger collectivity of similar individuals).48 Identity development, then, can be described as a dynamic process of familial influences, cultural socialization, and personal experiences. We have already looked at the family in Chapter 3, but familial influence on identity is so great that we need to touch on a few points here.The initial exposure to your identity came from your family, where you began to learn culturally appropriate beliefs, values, and social role behaviors.49 Development of gender identity commences at a very early age when family members start teaching children culturally based behaviors specific to boys and girls. Interacting with extended family members also instills age-appropriate behaviors. Moreover, it is the family that first begins to inculcate the concept of an individual- or group-based identity. At the start of your school years, you were required to learn and enact the culturally mandated behaviors of a student. Media also play a major role in your identity development. The near-constant exposure to media stereotypes creates a sense of how you should look, dress, and act in order to exhibit age- and gender-appropriate identities. Media also serve to recruit people to join different groups, for example those for or against a specific activity, such as gay marriage, abortion, or the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.From a theoretical perspective, Phinney provides a three-stage model to help explain identity development. Although the model focuses on adolescent ethnic identity, it is equally applicable to the acquisition and growth of cultural identity. The initial stage, unexamined ethnic identity, is “characterized by the lack of exploration of ethnicity.”50 During this phase individuals are not particularly interested in examining or demonstrating their personal ethnicity. For members of minority cultures, diminished interest may result from a desire to suppress their own ethnicity in an effort to identify with the majority culture. Majority members in the United States, on the other hand, seem to take for granted that their identity is the societal norm and give little thought to their own ethnicity.51Ethnic identity search, the second stage, begins when individuals become interested in learning about and understanding their own ethnicity. Movement from stage 1 to stage 2 can be stimulated by a variety of events. An incident of discrimination might move minority members to reflect on their own ethnicity. This could lead to a realization that some beliefs and values of the majority culture can be detrimental to minority members52 and provoke movement toward one’s own ethnicity. As an example, Dolores Tanno grew up in northern New Mexico and had always considered herself Spanish. After leaving New Mexico, she discovered that some people saw her as Mexican rather than Spanish, and this motivated her ethnic identity search.53 Increased interest in ethnic identity could also come from attending a cultural event, taking a culture class, or some other event that expands greater awareness of and interest in one’s cultural heritage. Ethnic Identity achievement, Phinney’s final stage of identity development, is reached when individuals have a clear and confident understanding of their own cultural identity. For minority members, this usually comes with an ability to effectively deal with discrimination and negative stereotypes.54 Identity achievement can also provide greater self-confidence and enhance feelings of personal worth.Drawing on social science research, Martin and Nakayama offer multistage identity development models for minority, majority, and biracial individuals respectively. In the minority development model, the initial stage, unexamined identity, is similar to Phinney’s model, in which individuals are unconcerned about identity issues. During stage 2, conformity, minority members endeavor to fit in with the dominant culture and may even develop negative self-images. Resistance and separatism, stage 3, is usually the result of some cultural awakening that motivates increased interest in and adherence to one’s own culture. Concurrently, rejection of all or selected aspects of the dominant culture may occur. In the final stage, integration, individuals gain a sense of pride in and identify with their own cultural group and demonstrate an acceptance of other groups.55Multistage Identity Development ModelsMultistage Identity Development ModelsMajority identity development follows a five-step model with identity in the initial stage, unexamined identity, being of little concern. Acceptance, the second stage, is characterized by acquiescence to existing social inequities, even though such acceptance may occur at a subconscious level. At the next stage, resistance, members of the dominant culture become more aware of existing social inequities, begin to question their own culture, and increase their association with minority culture members. Achievement of the fourth and fifth stages, redefinition and reintegration, brings an increased understanding of one’s dominant culture identity and an appreciation of minority cultures.56In the first stage of Martin and Nakayama’s biracial identity development model, biracial individuals may rotate through three phases where they (1) become conscious of differences in general and the potential for discord, (2) gain an awareness of their personal differences from other children, and (3) begin to sense they are not part of the norm. The second stage entails a struggle to be accepted and the development of feelings that they should choose one race or another. In the third and final stage, biracial individuals accept their duality, becoming more self-confident.57 This development model is demonstrated in the historical experience of Japanese biracial children, often called hafu (half) in Japanese. The occupation of Japan by Allied forces after World War II saw the birth of increasing numbers of biracial children who generally encountered derision and overt discrimination. However, as their numbers have gown, especially with the increase of international marriages arising from globalization, they have become common figures in the contemporary social order, establishing a formal, worldwide organizational structure promoting organized events and public lectures about the biracial experience.58 As another example, the Hapa Project strives to “promote awareness and recognition of the millions of multiracial/multiethnic individuals of Asian/Pacific Islander descent [and] to give voice to multiracial people and previously ignored ethnic groups….”59As you go about daily activities, entering and exiting various contexts, different identities come into play.Identities can also be classified as ascribed or avowed, based on how they are acquired,60 a distinction referring to whether an identity was obtained involuntarily or voluntarily. Racial, ethnic, and sexual identities are assigned at birth and are considered ascribed, or involuntary. In hierarchical cultures where social status is often inherited, such as in Mexico, a person’s family name can be a strong source of ascribed identity. By contrast, your identity as a particular university student is avowed because you voluntarily elected to attend the school. Even though being a university student is a voluntary identity, your culture has established expectations that delineate appropriate and inappropriate social behavior for college students. When enacting your student identity, you will normally try to conform to those socially appropriate protocols, sometimes consciously and at other times subconsciously.ESTABLISHING AND ENACTING CULTURAL IDENTITYBy now you should have an appreciation of identity as a social construct, what constitutes identity, an awareness of some of your own identities, and insight into how identities are acquired. This background will help you understand how cultural identities are established and expressed.As you go about your daily activity, entering and exiting various contexts, different identities come into play. By interacting with others you continually create and recreate your cultural identity through communication,61 which can take a variety of forms, including “conversation, commemorations of history, music, dance, ritual, ceremonial, and social drama of all sorts.”62 Family stories told by family members connect us to the past and provide a “sense of identity and connection to the world.”63 These stories are also infused with cultural beliefs and values that become part of one’s identity.Culture’s influence in establishing identity can be demonstrated by returning to the classroom and contrasting student interaction styles in the United States and Japan. In the United States individualism is stressed, and even young children are taught to be independent and develop their personal identity. Schools in the United States encourage competition in the classroom and on the playing field. Students quickly learn to voice their ideas and feel free to challenge the opinions of others, including teachers, as a means of asserting their own identity. Being different is a common and valued trait. This is in contrast to the collective societies of South America, West Africa, and Northeast Asia, where children learn the importance of interdependence and identity is “defined by relationships and group memberships.”64 This results in activities that promote group-affiliated identity. In Japanese preschool and elementary classrooms, students are frequently divided into small groups (han) where they are encouraged to solve problems collectively rather than individually.65 This practice teaches young Japanese students the importance of identifying with a group.CONSIDER THISOnce established, identities are enacted in multiple ways, beginning in childhood and progressing through adolescence into the adult years.Identities are also established and displayed through cultural rites of passage that help adolescents gain an increased awareness of who they are as they enter adulthood.66 In some underdeveloped societies the rite can involve a painful physical experience, such as male or female circumcision, but in developed nations, the ceremony is usually less harsh and is often a festive event. The bar mitzvah, for instance, is used to introduce Jewish boys into adulthood when they become more responsible for religious duties. In Mexican culture, girls look forward to celebrating their fifteenth birthday with a quinceañera. This occasion is a means of acknowledging that a young woman has reached sexual maturity and is now an adult, ready to assume additional family and social responsibilities. In addition, the celebration is intended to reaffirm religious faith, good morals, and traditional family values.67 In the dominant U.S. culture, rites of passage into adulthood are generally not as distinctive but are often associated with the individual attaining a greater degree of independence or “freedom.”68 Graduation from high school or college, for example, brings increased expectations of self-sufficiency and a new identity.Once established, identities are enacted in multiple ways, beginning in childhood and progressing through adolescence into the adult years. For instance, individuals in almost every culture have ways of displaying their religious or spiritual identity. As we noted earlier, many Jews wear yarmulkes or other distinctive clothes, and Christians frequently display a cross as an item of personal jewelry. As a display of humility, Muslim men often go unshaven, which can also convey their religious identity. Some men and women wear a red dot (pottu) on their forehead as a sign of their devotion to the Hindu religion. Male adherents of Shikism commonly wear a turban and refrain from cutting their hair as part of their devotion. Each of these outward symbols identifies the wearer as belonging to a specific religious group and thus is a sign of both inclusion and exclusion.Identity can also be evinced through involvement in commemorative events. The Fourth of July in the United States, Bastille Day in France, and Independence Day in Mexico are celebrations of national identity. The annual Saint Patricks Day parade in New York City is an opportunity for people of Irish heritage to take pride in their ethnic identity. Oktoberfest celebrations allow people to rekindle their German identity, and the Lunar New Year is a time for the Chinese and many other Asian cultures to observe traditions that reaffirm their identities.While many customs of identity enactment are tradition-bound, evolving circumstances can bring about new ways. This type of change was discovered by David and Ayouby’s study of Arab minorities in the Detroit, Michigan, area. They found that a division existed between how early immigrants and later arrivals understood Arab identity. Immigrants who arrived in the United States years earlier were satisfied “with meeting and enacting their ethnicity in a ritualistic fashion by eating Arabic food, perhaps listening to Arabic music, and even speaking Arabic to their limited ability.”69 The more recent Arab immigrant arrivals, however, had a “more politicized identity.”70 resulting from their experiences in the conflicts and political turmoil of the Middle East. They felt that being an Arab involved taking a more involved role in events in their native land, such as sending money back or becoming politically active.71There are certainly many more ways of establishing and evincing your identity than we have discussed here. For instance, we did not address the obvious cultural identity markers of language, accents, or family names. But this overview should convince you of the complexity of your identities and how they are shaped by culture.REMEMBER THISIncreasing numbers of people are acknowledging multiple cultural identities.GLOBALIZATION AND CULTURAL IDENTITYThere is no denying that the contemporary world social order is increasingly characterized by multiculturalism. In Chapter 10, we will talk about how business is now routinely conducted in a transnational environment, the growing field of crosscultural healthcare, and how multicultural education is a contemporary challenge. Contrary to the belief and dire predictions made by some, globalization does not appear to be producing a culturally homogenized global society. Giddens claims that rather than increased similarity, globalization is actually abetting cultural diversity and giving rise to “a revival of local cultural identities in different parts of the world.”72 Advances in technology have enabled people of similar backgrounds, ideologies, philosophies, etc. to quickly and easily interact with each other, both virtually and in person, regardless of their location. This capability promotes activities that tend to strengthen, and in some cases revive, feelings of cultural identity. However, openness to cross-border information flow and international travel can represent a threat in conservative states, where the introduction “of foreign content can erode the traditional values and indigenous cultural identity.”73 In Western European countries there is concern about how traditional national identities might be affected by the increasingly vocal immigrant communities and the rising numbers of new arrivals.74 So great is this concern that France established a government agency charged with “promoting national identity” and subsequently launched a national debate on the topic.75From another perspective, people acknowledging multiple cultural identities are becoming more common. The globalized economy, immigration, ease of foreign travel, communication technologies, and intercultural marriage are bringing about an increased mixing of cultures, and this mixing is producing people who possess multiple cultural identities. Chuang notes, “cultural identity becomes blurry in the midst of cultural integration, bicultural interactions, interracial marriages, and the mutual adaptation processes.”76 Martin, Nakayama, and Flores further support this idea by reporting, “increasing numbers of people are living ‘in between cultural identities. That is, they identify with more than one nationality, ethnicity, race, or religion.”77 As mentioned earlier, dual citizenship has become common. For instance, citizens of any EU nation are also legal citizens of the EU, with the right to live and work in any other EU nation.In the United States, immigration, intercultural marriage, and multiracial births are creating a social environment where the younger generations consider cultural diversity a normal aspect of social life.78 Kotkin and Tseng contend that among U.S. Americans there is “not only a growing willingness—and ability—to cross cultures, but also the evolution of a nation in which personal identity is shaped more by cultural preferences than by skin color or ethnic heritage.”79 Hitt points out that “more and more Americans have come to feel comfortable changing out of the identities they were born into and donning new ethnicities in which they feel more at home.”80Globalization has also given rise to “intercultural transients,” those people who frequently move back and forth across cultural borders and must manage both cultural changes and identity renegotiations.81 Over the past decade a growing number of nations have made dual citizenship available, thereby increasing the community of intercultural transients.Issues of identity can be expected to remain complex—and perhaps become more so—as globalism and multiculturalism increasingly characterize contemporary society. It is clear, however, that the old understanding of a fixed cultural identity or ethnicity is outdated, and identity is rapidly becoming more of an “articulated negotiation between what you call yourself and what other people are willing to call you.”82 Regardless of how they are achieved, the form they take, or how they are acquired, your identities will remain a product of culture.COMPETENCY AND IDENTITY IN INTERCULTURAL INTERACTIONSWe have already discussed that identity is established through communicative interaction with others. Hecht and his colleagues also point out that identity is “maintained and modified through social interaction. Identity then begins to influence interaction through shaping expectations and motivating behavior.”83 As was previously mentioned, you are constantly assuming different identities as you interact with other people, and with each identity you employ a set of communicative behaviors appropriate for that identity and context. Culture has shaped your understanding and expectations of appropriate communicative behaviors for various social settings—for example, a classroom, hospital, sales meeting, wedding, or funeral. But what is appropriate in one culture may be inappropriate in another. We have also illustrated how students and teachers in Japan and the United States have quite different culturally established standards for classroom communicative behavior. However, what if a Japanese student is placed in a U.S. classroom or vice versa?In an intercultural meeting, the varying expectations for identity display and communication style carry considerable potential for creating anxiety, misunderstandings, and even conflict. This is why Imahori and Cupach consider “cultural identity as a focal element in intercultural communication.”84 Continuing with our student/teacher example, try to imagine how students from a culture that does not value individuality and communicative assertiveness would feel in a typical U.S. classroom. Being unaccustomed to having an instructor query students, they would probably be reluctant to raise their hands and would likely consider U.S. students who challenged the teacher to be rude or even arrogant. These factors would probably produce a degree of confusion and stress. To avoid potential problems during intercultural interaction, you need to develop what Collier calls intercultural competence, which is achieved when an avowed identity matches the ascribed identity.For example, if you avow the identity of an assertive, outspoken U.S. American and your conversational partner avows himself or herself to be a respectful, nonassertive Vietnamese, then each must ascribe the corresponding identity to the conversational partner. You must jointly negotiate what kind of relationship will be mutually satisfying. Some degree of adjustment and accommodation is usually necessary.85Collier is saying that in order to communicate effectively in an intercultural situation, to lessen the potential of tension and misunderstanding, an individual's avowed cultural identity and communication style should match the identity and style ascribed to him or her by the other party. But since the communication styles are likely to be different, the participants will have to search for a middle ground, and this search will require flexibility and adaptation. As a simple illustration, the Japanese traditionally greet and say good-bye to each other by bowing. However, in Japanese-U.S. business meetings, the Japanese have learned to bow only slightly while shaking hands. In doing this, they are adjusting their normal greeting practice to accommodate U.S. visitors. Longtime U.S. business representatives to Japan have learned to emulate this behavior. Thus, a mutually satisfying social protocol has evolved. In achieving this, the participants have demonstrated the principal components of intercultural communication competence: motivation, knowledge, and skills.SUMMARYIdentity is a highly abstract, dynamic, multifaceted concept that defines who you are.Identities can be categorized as human, social, and personal; another classification scheme uses personal, relational, and communal.Every individual has multiple identities—racial, gender, ethnic, national, regional, organizational, personal, and perhaps cyber/fantasy, and others— that act in concert. The importance of any single identity is a result of the context.Identity is acquired through interaction with other members of one’s cultural group. The family exerts a primary influence on early identity formation.Identities are established through group membership and are enacted in various ways, including rites of passage, personal appearance, and participation in commemorative events. Concepts of identity within the same group can change over time.Competent intercultural communication is achieved when the participants find commonality in ascribed and avowed identities.As society becomes increasingly multicultural, new concepts of cultural identity are evolving.ACTIVITIESConstruct a list of as many of your identities as you can. Using the list, draw a pie chart with each identity receiving space proportional to that identity’s importance to you. Compare your chart with other classmates’ charts. Do members of the dominant and minority cultures differ in the amount of space allotted to their racial/ethnic identity? If so why?In a group of at least three individuals, have each person go to YouTube and view at least two videos on one of the following topics—Christian, Jewish, or Muslim/Islamic identity. Afterward, compare notes for similarities and differences on how the respective identities are established, displayed, etc.CONCEPTS AND QUESTIONSWhy is an awareness of identity important in your personal life? What are some of the situations in which this awareness would be beneficial?How would you define identity? How would you explain your identities to another person?What are some of your different identities and how did you acquire them? What are some differences between your identities and those same identities in another culture?How did you establish some of your identities? How do you enact those identities? Requirements: minimum 250 words   |   .doc file

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