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What are the various factors that shape identity? Essay

Identity is something we all acquire over our lifetimes. There are many factors that come in to play when developing your personal identity. Every-day things and interactions between inanimate objects and people we come in contact with are all factors in how are identity is shaped. There are many theories as to what is most important in forming our identities.

Society has a major impact on who we become. When we form relationships with others, it has a great impact on choices we make in our lives. “In the more sociologically oriented life-course literature, identity refers to the various meanings an individual attaches to oneself and by others within social relationships” (Hitlin, Steven). Erik Erikson also believed that social influences are the most important factors in how the identity is shaped. He built his theories from Freud’s psychosexual stages of development theory. “For Erikson, the social aspects that influence human development are more significant in shaping the identity of the human personality” (Batra, Sunil).

The adults in our early years are the most instrumental factors in how we learn to identify ourselves. The adult figures in our lives can positively or negatively affect our identity. “Childrens development of a sense of themselves through the process of taking the role of significant others and developing what he termed reflected appraisals”(Hitlin, Steven). Basically, children would try to mimic behavior to try to get feedback from adults. If the adult has something constructive to say to the child, he might learn from it. But, if the child gets put down or told they can’t do something enough they start doubting themselves and that can affect the person’s self-esteem in the long-run. “Persistent self-doubt can have an adverse impact on the self-esteem of a growing child.”(Batra, Sunil)

Everyday interactions we have with people and things help shape our identity.“in a hurry of thoughts, a culmination of misery swept over her-the failed recital of The Gravedigger’s Handbook, the demolition of her family, her nightmares, the humiliation of the day- as she crouched in the gutter and wept”(Zusak, Markus). This shows how people and situations affect a person emotionally. All of the examples above could be added to her identity. Everything we do and everyone we come in contact with influences how our identity is shaped. “Every day experiences include engagement (or the lack of it) with family members and the entire matrix of social and cultural exchange, including play, reading and writing (or the lack of these), exposure to technology and media, etc.”(Batra, Sunil).

Identity is shaped through basically everything we interact with or experience. We will always be adding on to our identity because we will continue to experience new things or meet new people. The way we interact with other people or our exposure to media characterizes our identity.

Works Cited
Batra, Sunil. “Classics with Commentary The Psychosocial Development of Children: Implications for Education and Society — Erik Erikson in Context.” SAGE Journals. SAGE Publications. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.

Hitlin, Steven, and Donna A. Lancianese. “Identity Development.” Encyclopedia of the Life Course and Human Development. Ed. Deborah Carr. Vol. 1: Childhood and Adolescence. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2009. 249-52. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 21 Sept. 2014. .


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