Race, Class, and Gender

Table of Content

A person’s identity is developed through various stages. The first socialization period being his home where he is taught from his parents, siblings and the surrounding around him. That is where a child learns morals, values and a sense of identity. This identity is furthered developed as he or she moves up the age bracket and interacts with other members of community. Thought processes change and the individual begins to question his initial socialization process, eventually finding an answer. Then, he or she integrates with society and takes their place as an individual. Their identity, which includes his morals, values and societal identity, flow to their children. Thus, forming a larger cultural/national identity.

Crenshaw’s views on intersectionality, identity politics and violence against women is an important piece of writing considered when discussing formation of larger cultural/national identities. According to Crenshaw, dynamics of structural intersectionality shape the lives of many women in the world. His research concluded that women of color are often subjected to different forms of discrimination. They lead a life where they are battered by domestic violence, discriminatory employment opportunities, racial oppression, and are burdened with responsibilities such as child care. According to Crenshaw, the experiences that women face determine how diverse structures intersect and then cause a formation of a larger cultural identity[1].

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Race and gender seem to be the two primary classifying agents which lead to the distribution of resources. Beyond that, economic class, race and gender structures, experience of poverty and domestic violence, shape the ways women experience life and are integrated in society.

How this reflects on the shaping of identities of individuals is clear. Situation factors, race and gender are primary ingredients for how a person will be treated in a social environment. It will determine their productive nature in society, their integration level and of course the political interactions they face. Patriarchy and race have been seen as the greatest shaper of women identities in large communities.

Another factor, according to Crenshaw, is political intersectionality. According to Crenshaw, women of color are subdivided into two groups that pursue conflicting agendas. One group, which faces sexism, and male domination, while the other faces racism. The situation complicates when feminism fails to interrogate race. This means that resistance strategies of feminism often re-enforce the subordination of people of color. Similarly, the failure to interrogate patriarchy by anti-racism groups reproduces the subordination of women[2].

These factors determine the lives that women eventually lead or are constructed to lead. The factors that affect women through the coalitions and notions present in society do lead to the identity their form. Individuals, in this case, women, are often left helpless in the face of subgroups in their own ranks promoting different conflicting agendas and discriminatory policy making.

In our age of globalization, the most suitable arguments for identity formations and .national/cultural identities are those given by Mato. Mato argues that globalization has bought with it interconnection. This interconnection does not necessarily mean the flow of ideas, technology or symbols but also encompasses permanent relationships between social agents. The breakup of old colonial regions, the development of single tracked production techniques and the growing diffusion of communication technology has interlinked the world comprehensively. Globalization has bought with it the development of numerous international organizations which exist on the rationale of global linking.

In this day and age, according to Mato, there are no isolated social units. Most societies are interlinked nationally with others through common social agents which globalization has promoted. Global organizations such as the World Bank interact with countries all over the world. Doing so, they transcend their social thought, their way of life and their ideologies to other populations. They purposely advocate their own representations such as democracy, justice, race, gender and citizenship. In this sense, social identities are shaped through internationally linked factors and global social agents. Large communities, cultures and national identities are now trans-nationally linked.

According to Mato, pan-national identities encompass the dominant representation of a national identity. In the end, the dominating representation wins support and is widely accepted into the socialization process which shape individual identities and thus leading to formation of larger communities[3].

When talking about identity formation in light of cultural citizenship, inequality and multiculturalism, Rosaldo pointed out a few facts that need consideration. His underlying claim was referent to social movements. He explained how reconfiguration of identities took place after various social movements took place[4].

He addresses the “public square” meetings where all citizens were held equal. With time, such practices have discontinued with the advent of mega malls and stadiums taking over open areas. According to him, those meetings were not as sacred and pure as are portrayed. The issues of racial discrimination and gender inequality existed then as it does now. In fact, it was propagated by certain acts in the constitution. According to Rosaldo, the US constitution initially held white men with property as citizens. This sowed the seeds for discrimination against colored people and the poor. They formed the parameters of dissident traditions that still take place today. This in turn led to social movements such as the movement for women suffrage, and abolition of slavery. However, the traditions still continue today at a different level. Women are still marginalized and there is significant different in pay scales between them and men. Similarly, racism still exists and colored people are discriminated against.  Though social movements have played their role in reconfiguration of national identities, the patterns still exist at a different level[5].

In recent times, according to Rosaldo, there has been a shift of focus of social movements. Now, they concentrate on citizen rights. They lay claim not only to their fellow citizens but also on the State. National identities have changed and are still passing through a reformation phase as the qualitative shift identifies two dimensions of change. The redistribution of resources, which refers to class and the struggle for democracy. The second being, recognition and responsiveness. The second distinction lays claims on the bias treatments of gays, lesbians and other “second class” citizens. The reconfiguration of national identities result when recognition of the problem is made and a response follows.

Rosaldo further claims that it is often the State that tries to change perceptions of its own citizens. He mentions the California Civil Rights initiative as a political tool designed by governments to test controversial topics. This one involved the elimination of affirmative action programs. Such controversial acts and resolutions bring about reconfiguration and identity change amongst the public[6].

Finally, he mentions the cultural aspects of shaping citizenship and achieving identity reconfiguration. He mentioned the Quetzalcoatl in San Jose incident, underlying that cultural assumptions and ideologies can shape or subvert an individual’s claim to citizenship.

Claims are laid on bringing political change and applying various strategies to remake society. However, it is forgotten how everyday events make people, especially immigrants, as subjects of a particular State.

Work Cited Page:

Cote, James. Identity, Formation, Agency, and Culture: A Social Psychological Synthesis. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002

Porta, Donatella. Social Movements: An introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, 2006

Richie, Beth. Domestic Violence at the Margins: Readings on Race, Class, Gender, And Culture.Rutgers University Press, 2005

[1] Cote, James. Identity, Formation, Agency, and Culture: A Social Psychological Synthesis. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002.pp65-89.
[2] [2] Cote, James. Identity, Formation, Agency, and Culture: A Social Psychological Synthesis. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002,pp34-76
[3] Porta, Donatella. Social Movements: An introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, 2006.pp34-75
[4] Richie, Beth. Domestic Violence at the Margins: Readings on Race, Class, Gender, And Culture.Rutgers University Press, 2005.pp53-90
[5] Porta, Donatella. Social Movements: An introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, 2006.pp21-79

[6] Richie, Beth. Domestic Violence at the Margins: Readings on Race, Class, Gender, And Culture.Rutgers University Press, 2005.pp23-59


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