Self and identity though closely related feature some significant differences, not only in their meaning but also in their applications. Self refers to how an individual perceives himself/herself in relations to other variables for instance people or characteristics that form part of the existence of human being. On the other hand, identity refers to the attributes that people form or see in a person that distinguishes him/her from other people (Leary and Tangney 467). Therefore, it suffices to declare identity as no more than how one views another in relation to others while self is an intrinsic judgment that originates from an individual.
There stands a close relationship between self, self-concept, self-awareness and self-esteem. For instance, self-concept refers to a person’s perception of self in relation to other characteristics or variables like gender, race, and religion among others. Self-awareness constitutes the individual level of his or her own self while self-esteem is an overall or an evaluation of the level of someone’s self-concept. Therefore, the word “self” seems closely linked with these three concepts as all refer to the way an individual views himself.
However, one can ask, ‘How does self come about?’ Self is formed based on how an individual assesses himself/herself with regard to his or her own personality relating to skills, knowledge, abilities, hobbies occupations, physical characters and many others. A person can only tell his/her other self after a careful assessing of those areas or things that he or she believes as part of him/her or what he/she gets gratification and satisfaction from (Joan 78). For instance, an individual may say, “I am hard working”, an example of a self-assessment that transmits to self-concept of an individual. On the other hand, if a person says, “I am tired, or happy”, it does not amount to self-concept because the statement stands out as not objective and is temporary since tiredness implies something that does not occur always and is not permanent. Therefore, it lasts just for some few minutes then the feeling will vanish. Being hard working implies an assessment and it can be exhibited in most parts of an individual’s life for a long time.
However, contrary to this, it holds true to declare the self-concept of a person as dynamic, changing with time based on how he/she re-assesses himself/herself. Such like changes may lead to identity crises as people will find it difficult to identify or know the clear stand or behavior of such an individual and therefore they would not record a common view concerning a person. According to Locke, personal identity is something that depends on consciousness implying that people remain the same in their past and future actions and thoughts as well as their present ones.
Identity therefore, comes after some time and therefore the thoughts and actions of a person become part of his/her identity or rather part of him/her after a certain period. Furthermore, they might function as “impetus to the future behavior of an individual apart from providing this interpretative and evaluative context of the current thinking or view of the self” (Rodriguez 23). Therefore, self-concept does not restrict itself to the present only but rather encompasses the past and the future selves. This means that it represents people’s future wishes as well as what they want to become future or those things of which an individual is afraid. Hence, it corresponds to standards, threats, goals, opportunities, hopes, fears, and happiness among others. The self-categorization theory forms part of the few theories, which clearly relate to self-concept.
The theory presents self-concept as having two levels namely personal identity and social identity implying that people’s evaluation of self depends on how a person’s self-perceptions fit in the social constructs as a whole. Therefore, the self-concept of an individual may alternate between the personal identity and the social identity. Different cultures and societies have different views of self. For instance, in the western countries the ideas of self seem more leaned on independence as opposed to Asian countries where most people’s view of self stands as interdependent with the people’s ways of relationships and interpersonal interactions gaining prominence compared to their personal achievements or accomplishments. Therefore, it becomes evident that self-identity is dynamic in the sense that it varies from one culture to another, and is not something static or permanent.
It keeps on changing with time and even results to identity crises. There stands various primary forces of identity formation such as the home/family, religion, sexuality, education, music, gender and many more that identify well with a given individual or rather relates to an individual. Therefore, every person has his or her way, which describes his/her identity.
The paper focuses on gender as one of the primary forces of identity formation. Gender differences in most cultures act as self-identity. The concept of self as applied to a person begins early in his/her life as the society socializes with the person because of gender segregation initiated by children themselves and the parents or rather the adults. Various researches conducted have identified that, regardless of the culture, children, regardless of their gender, tend to engage in their plays separately.
It therefore proves difficult to change or alter the way they want to live. Therefore, these plays and segregation contribute much towards the formation of the different identities seen in relationships and social interactions, which later inculcate in the entire way of life during their growth Furthermore, girls tend to engage in one-on-one communications in their interactions while on the other hand, boys prefer engaging in-group activities. These preferences also contribute to their later lives concerning the identification of the two genders. For instance, boys will prefer forming groups and putting together their efforts towards achievement of certain goal in life while girls will tend to constricted themselves in their day-to-day interactions due to what they used to do.
Girl’s therefore, will tend to be secretive and will form strong intimate relationships of bonds among themselves as opposed to boys. Another aspect of formation of identity among these genders is how the girls carry on with their lives. For instance, when it comes to speaking, girls wait for their turn and will often agree with others more easily and with fewer arguments. They will further acknowledge the contributions of their colleagues while the boys on the other the side will often build or form large groups, which result from their shared interests and the activities they engage in. They also seem fond of boasting, threatening, and arguing more to show their levels of dominance in any discussion or any activities they engage in as a way of hierarchy. These examples of gender differences illustrate how the formation of identity of the two different categories comes up or forms based on their subsequent interaction and socialization later in their lives. The society has also contributed a lot in the formation of identity especially on the gender.
The society has come up with ‘segregative’ ways of showing differences in the way boys and girls ought to carry on with their life. The society does this through the evident segregation of roles, which the boys and girls engage in (Leary and Tangney 43). For example, in a family where there are boys and girls, the society will inculcate different values in these children in the tasks they assign them. For example, girls will be given tasks relating to domestic affairs involving, kitchen work and keeping a house clean while on the other hand a boy child will be given responsibilities that are not related to domestic roles. Therefore, as the children continue to grow, they will have already been oriented with what they are supposed to do or not. Another illustration of the same comes in the way guardians bring up their children in terms of choosing their clothing.
These differences in selection of what the boys and girls wear contribute to their formation of identity. Therefore, the differences in how parents socialize their children contribute to a greater magnitude in the way they socialize and make relationships in the society. Furthermore, this segregation internalizes and makes up their way of life in future as they grow up doing what they were brought up doing.
Therefore, the issue of gender becomes a crucial factor in the formation of identity of an individual since a child grows with it and hence becoming part of his/her life.
Joan, Kron. The Semiotics of Home Decor. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997.
Leary, Mark, and Tangney, June. Handbook of self and identity. New York: Guilford Press, 2003. Rodriguez, Richard. A Hunger of Memory. Boston: Godine, 1982