The Society is a Cluster of People

Categories: Society
About this essay

The society is a cluster of people that come from different backgrounds, whether it be race, gender, racial or ethnical background, we all somehow connect together to form segments in society that define or label us. Rebecca Chiyoko King; a senior lecturer of sociology at the National University of Ireland conducted research that focused on race/ethnicity and critical race theory; one of her interests. She formed The Three-Level Model of Racial Formation, which included Self Perception. Presentation of Self to Others and Negotiation with a Larger Group.

Rebecca argues that our identity is,” flexible, but it is not a choice which is unconstrained” (1997:125). We can perceive ourselves to be anyone we want but because of the constraints of society; it’s ideals and culture we are expected to keep up with an identity that society creates for us.

In the reading, “The Code of the Streets” by Elijah Anderson, the people are divided into social status into two respective categories being “decent and street”.

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The people of the street follow their rules an regulations known as “The Code of the Streets” where any violation against the rules could deem the person to severe punishment. The decent people who mostly are the middle-class section of the society familiarize themselves with these rules but do not involve themselves in such violent activities that include physical and verbal abuse. The families of the middle-class society keep a very close watch on their children with curfews and strict behavior in order to keep them safe and out of trouble.

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The street people, however, do not mind as long as their children follow the word of the street. Here, using King’s three-level model of racial formation, we can see that the families of both categories go through all three levels at some point in time. The decent families self percept themselves to be “hardworking and self-reliant and would sacrifice a great deal for their children” (2015;103) While the families of the street judge themselves by how they follow well they follow the word of the code and make sure their children follow in their footsteps. Now as they go through this first stage, the stage of presenting themselves to others arises. When children of both categories come together, there is a stark difference between them; the way they dress and the way they behave. Most decent family children are well behaved as they have been brought up in strict households while the street children are more free-spirited and wild. Both parties represent each other to each other in the way that they were brought which leads to the third level which is negotiation with the larger group. The children either get influenced or realize their behavior and start to ‘mold’ into something that they learn off the streets. Though it is hard for a street boy to become soft and understanding in his nature unlike how he was brought up, it is not possible and the same goes for decent family boys.

While people “do” race, class, ethnic and gender identity, some embrace a particular identity but are not able to fully embrace it because of some social factors. In the movie “Big Dreams, Little Tokyo” directed by Dave Boyle, A young man Boyle (also played by Boyle himself) is a young businessman trying to find success in the Japanese world by unintentionally being Japanese himself. Here, again using the racial formation model; Boyle’s Self-perception of him was to be Japanese enough to receive acceptance from Japanese people who will purchase his books. He is wrapped up in this uptight Japanese conduct that makes some Japanese people question his actions, which is ‘presentation of self to others’. Him being American and forcefully trying to embrace this culture and making it his own will never be accepted as he does not belong to that identity. No matter how much he tries to be Japanese, he’ll always be looked upon as an American. This leads to the third level which is negotiation with the larger group; where Boyle finally understands that settling and being an identity that you do not belong to will not get him anywhere an that he needs to embrace who he actually is.

Being a Muslim girl who is born and raised in Indian society, there are a lot of identities that we need to embrace but at the same time, we cannot embrace them all because of our social norms or factors. The major one being girls in our society cannot be as independent as they wish to be, which is a wrong and misguided conception that has been followed and trickled down the family and community for many years. I self precept myself to be a truly independent individual who is capable of making her own life decisions and someone who can make way for herself to reach heights that not a lot of people would reach for. I present myself to the people as such unapologetically because I want to empower other girls not only in my family but in my society, that even we are as capable as our male counterparts are. I traveled alone all the way from one continent to another to pursue my higher education at any cost not because I wanted to show people I can, but because I wanted this for myself, I wanted to succeed somewhere in life where not a lot of people are confident in doing so. Showing people that if a brown, Muslim girl who has an attention span of a goldfish could make it this far, then so can a lot of other people and that’s the kind of example I would want to set forth for my family, my community in general, which is negotiating with the larger group.

Society is built on this foundation of self percpetions and perception through others, we often forget about the former as we’re more worried about what people think about us. Embracing identities in today’s society is such a “roll-the-dice” situation that if you land on a six, you are lucky enough to actually get accepted but not completely. Because there is a part of you that will always brand you as “other” or “outside” their class, race, ethnic or even gender. It’s all so standardized to a specific label that it is not easy to be who you want to be or what you want to embrace anymore. But nevertheless, it does form a strong foundation on which our society grows on today and will continue to grow with even more reformations, hopefully loosening up the knots a little to allow room for more growth and acceptance.

Reference List;

Anderson, Elijah. 2015. “The Code of the Streets.” Pp. 101-113 in Readings for Sociology, edited by G. Massey. Eighth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co

Boyle, Dave [Producer]. 2006. Big Dreams Little Tokyo. DVD. Echo Bridge Home Entertainment. La Crosse, WI.

King, Rebecca Chiyoko. “Multiraciality Reigns Supreme? Mixed-Race Japanese Americans and the Cherry Blossom Queen Pageant.” Amerasia Journal 23:1(113-128).

Cite this page

The Society is a Cluster of People. (2019, Dec 14). Retrieved from

The Society is a Cluster of People

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