Culture and Identity


The definition of culture as the best that has been thought and said in the world was made by Matthew Arnold the author of the New Learning. The definition was made in favor of materialism, individualistic self-interest, materialism and industrialism. It argues that the discovery of culture lessened misery and difficulties (Albert & Whetten, 1985).

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Part a1

The concept of social identity was introduced by Henri Tajfel. He derived the social identity theory in which he argued that individuals considered the groups in which people belonged to socially were an important source of pride and gave them a sense of belonging to the society (Clarke, 2008).  According to Tjafel, social identity refers to those aspects of an individual that are defined in terms of their belonging to certain groupings. Notably, people do not identify themselves with all the groupings to which they belong. People therefore associate themselves with those people who define themselves with the same social groupings.

Part a2

The idea of high and low concept cultures was derived from Edward T. Hall’s book Beyond Culture. Context in this regard refers to the background, framework and surrounding circumstances through which communication and events take place (Clarke, 2008). High context cultures are contemplative, relative, intuitive and collectivist. This implies that people who have this aspect of culture value interpersonal relationships. To people from such cultures, it is important to develop trust before business transactions are undertaken. These groups are also collectivist and prioritize group consensus and harmony to individual performance (Peterson & Sondergaard, 2008). People who hail from these cultures are mainly governed by intuition rather than laws and regulations. High context culture also has a language that is more indirect and formal.
Part a3

The term stereotype was adopted by Walter Lippman and refers to rough generalizations which are made regarding a certain group. Usually, such generalizations are negative, ill willed and false (Clarke, 2008). Whikle some stereotypes may be positive, all stereotypes are regarded to contain a level of negative attitudes. If they are widely shared, then they are said to be collective. They are called idiosyncratic if they only used by one person.

Part a4

Enculturation is the process by which the members of a society and the environment teach an individual the accepted values and norms (Clarke, 2008; Isik, 2007). Upon enculturation, an individual becomes an accepted member of the society and is able to fulfill the roles and functions of the society. He also learns the cultural boundaries and accepted behavior that is accepted within the societal framework (Peterson & Sondergaard, 2008). Enculturation teaches an individual what their role is in the society and what the accepted behavior is.

Part B

Identity is the way individuals and groups view themselves as well as how others define them. Identity is formed through the influence of other people as well as social institutions like religion, religious institutions and the education system (Lamont, 2001). There are several types of identities.

Individual identity

These are all the attributes that an individual associates with without regarding other individuals. It is selective of the one individual. It is defined by certain cues and signals (Isik, 2007). The markers of identity like DNA, email address, finger prints face and the name. These are unique to the individual and are rarely shared.

Social identity

This refers to the various societal groups an individual associated with. These are associating. They associate various individuals as they are not unique to every individual.  Another aspect of social identity is that an individual may have more than one form of social identity. When at work, one may regard himself as the ‘manager’. When at church, he may define himself as a Christian or as the pastor (Isik, 2007).

Cultural identity

This refers to the feeling of belonging to a certain nationality, religion, locality social class or any other social group that has a distinct culture. Cultural identity overlaps with both individual identity and social identity (Lamont, 2001).

In conclusion, the identity of an individual may be divided into three types. The individual identity refers to those attributes of identity that are unique to an individual (Thomas, 2002). Cultural identity refers to the identity that is granted to an individual by their culture. Finally, social identity refers to the attributes of culture that are relative to the groupings.

Part c

Identity is influenced by various factors. Some of these factors are obvious while others are not. Ethnicity and gender are the most obvious and often make others to be disregarded. Culture plays a vital role in a person’s identity. However, since it cannot be noticed by merely looking at an individual, it is often overlooked (Lamont, 2001).

Cultural practices

The culture of a person determines how they dress and act and gives a guideline as to what is acceptable and what is considered otherwise. As a child grows up within a certain culture, he absorbs these practices and begins employing them in their daily lives. This process is known as acculturation. A person who is brought up in a strict cultural background will tend to stick to such values. Dress being an example, those who are raised under the influence of a certain religion are bound to dress in certain ways. Other aspects of identity that may be altered include sexual identity and gender identities (Modood, 1997). A person who comes from a more democratic society may be more likely to associate with being gay or lesbian. In some other cultures however, it is more likely that people will identify with the more acceptable identities.


Religion influences the way people identify themselves. Individuals, for example will identify themselves according to their religions. The religion therefore plays a vital part in determining how they define themselves.

Children are also named according to their religion (Modood, 1997). Christian children are more likely to be granted Christian names that their Islamic counterparts. Similarly, Islamic names are most likely going to possess at least one religious name. This implies that these children are viewed differently even in the same settings.

Furthermore, religion impacts on the identity of individuals by determining which groupings they are more likely to join (Peterson & Sondergaard, 2008). If a religion does not allow for involvement of the individual in certain groupings, the individual will feel more bound to obey and join only those groups that are allowed by his religion.

In conclusion, culture determines how individuals identify themselves. A culture determines the name, the social groupings joined and even the way people dress (Modood, 1997; Singh, 2012). With such influence, people often standout according to their culture. It is therefore evident that culture influences identity majorly through religion and cultural practices.


Albert, S., & Whetten, D. (1985). Organizational identity. Research In Organizational Behavior.

Clarke, S. (2008). Culture and identity. The SAGE Handbook Of Cultural Analysis, 510–529.

Isik, H. (2007). Cross Cultural Guide (1st ed.). Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller.

Lamont, M. (2001). Culture and identity. Springer, 171–185.

Modood, T. (1997). Culture and identity. Ethnic Minorities In Britain: Diversity And Disadvantage, 290–338.

Peterson, M., & Søndergaard, M. (2008). Foundations of cross cultural management (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Singh, N. (2012). Eastern and cross cultural management (1st ed.). New Delhi: Springer.

Thomas, J. (2002). Culture and identity. Companion Encyclopaedia Of Archaeology, 431.

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