Cultural identity: what it is, elements and how it is constructed

The cultural identity Is the hallmark of a town, its history, tradition and customs, within the framework of a particular geography.

It gestates in the framework of nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality. It is part of the self-perception and self-perception of an individual, therefore, cultural identity is both characteristic of the individual and of the culturally identical group of members who share the same cultural identity.

Cultural identity in Sierra Leonean girls. "The dangers of being born girl in different parts of the world"Stephanie Sinclair. Retrieved from:

Cultural identity is related to the ability to associate and feel as part of a group, based on their culture. Although culture usually refers to language, race, heritage, religion, cultural identity, it is also associated with social class, locality, generation or other types of human groups.

Individual identity and culture are linked by experience. A person experiences different processes throughout life and then joins some group and develops a sense of belonging.

When enough people share the same beliefs, experiences and values, a culture is outlined. Experiences vary from person to person, and valuation is subjective.

The corporeity of the human being is a distinctive feature of the human species. Along with the structure of the cognitive system, the ability to reason and think, the individual interacts, perceives, receives information, feels and gives meaning to the outside world and to the relationship with its peers, giving meaning to human existence on earth.

Elements of cultural identity

Identity and culture are the basic components that make social constructions and interactions work and influence each other.

Developing an identity requires some form of interaction and personal perspective over a period of time.

Culture, as a fundamental element of society, also requires a historical framework, of symbolic interaction and tangible elaboration. Culture is transmitted from one generation to the next. In this way, the socio-cultural framework is being built.

The conscious, unconscious and constructive contribution that each individual contributes to their culture, reinforces the affirmation of identity and the sense of belonging. When individual contribution and social response work in tune, culture and personal identity are amalgamated, grown and strengthened.

Self-perception - Self-identity

The theory of self-perception (Bern, 1972) shows that people develop their attitudes - when there is no previous attitude due to lack of experience and the emotional response is ambiguous - observing their own behavior and concluding what attitudes should have caused certain conduct.

The person rationally interprets their own behaviors in the same way that they try to explain those of others (Robak, et al: 2005).

The concept of self, also called self-construction, self-identity, self-perspective or self-structure, is formed from a set of beliefs about oneself (Leflot, et al: 2010), which includes intellectual, gender identity, Racial identity

Generally, self-conception leads to the elaboration of answers to the questioning of who am I? (Myers: 2009).

What is culture?

Cultural identity: what it is, elements and how it is constructed Afghanistan, Andrea Bruce. "Around the world through their toilets". Retrieved from:

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition defines culture as the shared codes of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding, which are learned through socialization.

Therefore, it can be seen as the growth of a group identity fostered by unique social patterns for that group. Culture is the distinctive feature and knowledge of a particular group of people, made up of language, religion, food and gastronomy, social habits, music, the arts, and so on.

For most social scientists, culture is defined more by the symbolic, ideological and intangible aspects of human societies than by their artifacts, tools, technology or other tangible cultural elements.

As for these, what is prime is how the members of a group appropriate the tangible, interpret, and construct meaning they generate.

Social construction of identity in complex societies

Culture is essential for the compression of ourselves, the world and the universe. Unlike traditional societies, where identities are socially defined in advance, in complex societies socialization deregulates and fragments processes.

It also fragments the trajectories of each person based on the fact of apprehending and appropriating social reality.

According to Pujadas (1993: 48), the reductionist equation that indicates that a social group determines or is equal to a culture does not work within the framework of new forms of identification that complicate the understanding of the individual as a coherent whole subject in a collection Of various cultural identifiers (Berger and Luckman, 1988: 240).

According to James (2015), which recognizes both coherence and fragmentation in the identity / culture journey:

"Categorizations about identity - even when codified and consolidated in clear typologies by processes of colonization, state formation or general processes of modernization - are always fraught with tensions and contradictions. Sometimes these contradictions are destructive, but they can also be creative and positive."

Social identity in globalized societies

In recognizing the difficulty of establishing the differences or the boundaries between social identity and individual identity Jenkins (1996: 19-20) raises the concept of social identity in the sociological field and states that"if identity is a condition Necessary for social life, this condition is reciprocal,"this is so much for individual and collective identities.

The cultural arena

Cultural identity: what it is, elements and how it is constructed 1 Retrieved image from:

Barnett and Casper (2001) call the cultural arena the sociocultural contexts, the environment and the society in which individuals live and develop. That is, the culture in which the individual was educated or lives, and the people and institutions with which he interacts.

The interaction can be in person or through agents such as the media, even anonymously and unidirectionally and without implying equality of social status.

Therefore, the social environment is a broader concept than the social class or social circle. The cultural arena of an individual, or place where he lives, affects the culture to which that person adheres.

The environment, the environment, the people are fundamental factors that condition the individual in relation to the culture to which he belongs or choose to belong.

Many immigrants are compelled to change their culture to fit the culture of the new land that houses them. Some groups or groups of individuals may be able to adapt to different cultures while maintaining the roots. Many people socialize and interact with diverse cultures.

Thus, cultural identity is capable of taking many forms and can change depending on context and place. This plasticity is what allows people to feel part of society wherever they go.

Acculturation - Transculturation

Acculturation is the process and conceptual model of cultural change and psychological change that results from the reunion between cultures. The effects of acculturation can be seen at multiple levels in both interacting cultures.

Acculturation is a direct change of one's culture through dominance over the culture of another, through military, economic, or political conquest.

As for the group, acculturation inevitably produces changes in culture, customs and social institutions. Notable effects of acculturation on groups often include changes in food, clothing, and language.

At the individual level, it is demonstrated that differences in the form of acculturation of individuals are associated, not only with changes in daily behavior, but with numerous measures of psychological and physical well-being.

As enculturation is used to describe the learning process of the first culture, acculturation can be seen as learning the second culture.

Transculturation is a term coined by the Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz in 1947 to describe the phenomenon of fusion and convergence of cultures.

Transculturation means more than the transition from one culture to another. It does not consist simply in acquiring another culture-acculturation-or in losing or uprooting an earlier culture -desculturation-rather it fuses these concepts and, in addition, entails the idea of ​​creating new cultural phenomena-enculturation.

Ortiz also referred to the devastating impact of Spanish colonialism on the indigenous peoples of Cuba as a failed transculturation.

In a broad sense, transculturation encompasses war, ethnic conflicts, racism, Multiculturalism , he Interculturalism , Interracial marriage, involving more than one culture.

The general processes of transculturation are extremely complex, driven by powerful macro-level forces, but crystallize at the interpersonal level. The driving force of conflict can be the simple proximity of borders.

The conflict begins when societies are invaded territorially, one over another. If a means of coexistence can not be found immediately, conflicts can be hostile.

The degrees of hostile conflict range from the absolute genocidal conquest, to internal struggles between different political fringes, within the same ethnic community.

The processes of transculturation and globalization

Cultural identity: what it is, elements and how it is constructed 2 "Gender Revolution". National Geographic Magazine (January, 2017). Retrieved from:

The processes of transculturation become more complex in the context of Globalization , Given the multiple layers of abstraction and subjectivities that permeate everyday experiences.

Elizabeth Bath argues that, in the global era, transculturation can no longer be considered only in direct relation, but the interactions that shape the fabric during the process must be taken into account. A phenomenon she describes as the layers of transculturation.


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