SOCIAL CLASS AND IDENTITY - sociologytwynham.com

SOCIAL CLASS AND IDENTITY - sociologytwynham.com

SOCIAL CLASS AND IDENTITY UK society consists of different social classes (upper, middle and working). Upper Class values deferred gratification, future time orientation, An education based around private boarding schools, the employment of domestic staff, A taste for high culture, Particular codes of etiquette and manners Middle class values - A commitment to education and recognition of its importance for career success, A recognition of the importance of individual efforts, personal ambition and self-help for success in life, A sense of individual and family self-interest, A commitment to, or a learning towards, greater respect for high culture than popular culture, A concern with their own fitness, health and well-being Working class Values present time orientation, instant gratification, little interest in high culture, lack of concern for education, restricted speech codes Social class is an important influence on peoples lives. An individuals social class has a major influence on his or her life chances. The chance of obtaining those things defined as desirable and avoiding those things defined as undesirable in any

society. There are wide, measurable differences in life chances between social classes. For example: BOURDIEU (1971) each social class has its own cultural framework or set of ideas, he called HABITUS and upper class people have CULTURAL CAPITAL Savage(1995)

& ROBERTS (2001) difficult to generalise with accuracy about a shared middle class culture and identity. Postmodernist Writers Identities have become much more fluid and changeable, people can chop and change any identities they want. Consumer culture has replaced class culture as the major influence on peoples identities. Pakulski and Waters (1996) Lifestyle and consumption patterns of different status groups is an important factor in a persons identity, replacing class.

Age Age is a social construction, the identity and status allocated to people of different ages is created by society and social attitudes, not by biology. Social attitudes to people of different ages vary between cultures, in some societies old people have a high status as the elders of a community (Japan) whereas in Britain they tend to lack status and authority. Functionalist writers suggest that young people finding difficulty in establishing an adult identity leads to status frustration, this is frustration from being denied status in society. Ageism is stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination against individuals or groups on the grounds of age. Old age might be regarded as an example of a stigmatised identity, this prevents older people from establishing identities other than simply being the old person found in negative stereotypes. Nationality Nation- a particular geographical area which a group of people identify. Nation-state- a nation with its own independent government Nationality- Is having a nation state, e.g. the right to vote/passport and rights/responsibilities. Hall suggests that every nation has a connection of stories/ symbols and experiences. E.g. fish and chips in Britain. National identity involves a sense of belonging to a place. Ways of which people

are socialised into a national identity includes shared experiences, national anthem, national sports terms, festivals and traditions. Nationalism- a sense of pride and commitment to a nation. British values are the queen, union jack and the type of food that we eat. Globalization is changing national cultures. Mass media exposes us to another culture on the news, showing its attitudes and behaviour. Hall suggests national cultures may decline due to globalization, causing loss of tradition. Culture of hybridity- mix of two cultures. Ethnicity An ethnic identity is one where individuals asserts their identity primarily in terms of the ethnic group and culture to which they belong (values, beliefs, traditions, language, diet, dress religious ideas). Diaspora- the dispersal of an ethnic population from its original homeland + spreading out across the world- retaining cultural ties to national origin Hall (1992)- suggests that ethnic identities are becoming harder to identify Hybridization- all ethnic groups drawing on a range of cultures to create new hybrid identities. Ethnocentrism- is a view of the world in which other cultures are seen through the eyes of ones own culture, with devaluating the

others. Disability An impairment is some abnormal functioning of the body or mind either that one is born with. It prevents people form carrying out normal activities. Shakespeare argues that disability is created by societies that dont take into account the needs of those who so not meet with that societys ideas of what is normal. Disability is often seen as a stigmatized identity as something to be hidden or ashamed of. Disabled carries with it a stigma arising from stereotyping, which prevents people with impairments from achieving full social acceptance. Stereotypes of disability are generated by the mass media, include ideas that disabled people are dependant on others. Disability therefore becomes an identity marking people out as different form others. Sexual behaviour is socially constructed, what counts as normal sexual behaviour is established through the socialization

Society stereotype homosexual individuals into what is considered process the normal roles of a heterosexual relationship, for example they may assume that in a gay relationship one individual must be more feminine for it to work. Sexuality and Identity Negative connotations of homosexuality and societys idea of a normal sexuality stratifies sexualities different from heterosexuality as lower in society This may make some people conceal their sexuality because of fear of rejection from society (Goffmans Impression Management) in order to prevent their sexuality from becoming part of their public identity and thus the stigmatization

that would accompany it Women have been defined in Britain by their physical attractiveness and sexual appeal to men. However men are beginning to face similar physical scrutiny by both women and men as male bodies have become more sexualised through the media Gender is an important source of identity. The particular gender identity people adopt marks them out as similar to some people and different from others, and they will generally adopt forms of behaviour which fit the identities they construct. While we may be able to some extent to influence the exact details of our own gender identities, the options available to us are limited. We are influenced by agencies of socialisation such as the family, the school, the peer group and the mass media, which frequently promote socially approved forms of masculine and feminine behaviour. Leisure, Consumption And Identity Postmodernism- Other social factors such as age, gender, sexuality are no longer

important in the construction of identity. Lyotard (1984) dismisses these metanarratives (big-theories). Identities more fluid, subject to constant change- Rojek and Roberts: what we choose to do in our leisure time and the products we consume are far more significant factors. Bocock- consumer choices; taste, image, style, are important aspects of creating image we wish to project. Shopping for identity. Strinati- Emphasizes power of media in formation of identity by shaping consumer choice. Popular culture dominates how we define ourselves. Baudrillard- media saturated society. Bradley- New identities formed as a result of globalisation and through info/ images e.g. brands and labels. Pick and mix to create any identity. Bauman and May- DIY identity kits. Taylor- society has become something resembling an endless shopping mall where people now have much greater choice about how they look, what they consume, and what they believe in. However, there are things limiting free choice;

Occupation Social class Age Family life cycle Gender Ethnicity QUESTIONS What would a post modernist say about social class influencing identity? Why might people might to conceal their true sexuality from society?

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