Communication and identity

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Communication and identity

  1. 1. $15.00 Communications From Communications: General-Communications Due on Apr. 22, 2012 Asked on Apr. 22, 2012 at 11:17:39AMAsked by : Tossie Rating :No Rating Questions Asked: 4 Tutorials Posted: 0 Message MeQ:I need help with my paper. Please read the instructions and let me know if you could assist.Please read the attachment before you proceed. Write an essay that is at least 500 words in length in which you explain what you have learned from the course text readings about the relationship between communication and identity. Be sure to include the following as part of your analysis: Identify how you currently communicate your gender, social, and cultural identities in face-to- face and in online environments. Explain whether you communicate these identities differently, and why. Please support your statements about how you communicate these identities with specific real-life examples.I try to be assertive when dealing with obdurate male, where I see my male ego gets reflected inmy behavior but, I tend to be more polite and courteous when dealing with females. Masculineside of mine gets reflected as per the situation and more aptly conforms to the gender with whomI happen to interact to. In face-to-face communication, the male masculine behavior getsreflected depending upon the personal behavior of the other person. If other person happens to bemore assertive than myself, I tend to evince feminine side of my by seeking more support. Thishappens when the male happens to be assertive and polite without losing his cool. My masculineside comes out if men start behaving rudely.
  2. 2. Social identity is reflected by flaunting more of my status and for this I try to associatemyself with more powerful people. Whatever, little contacts I have, I try to influence others thatI belong to their category. For this, I have joined one particular local club and activelyparticipated in the social voluntary activity so that my status gets reflected and gets noticed byothers. By doing so, there is a sense of self fulfillment and perhaps it appears that my self-conception is built around the status which I flaunt by keeping in the company of high profiledand status people. While communicating with others, I try to impress upon the listener this aspectof my personality and then convince how I can be of tremendous help to you or anyone of you sodesire. This is then linked to my career goal and how to anchor my career path. In onlinetransaction, I have established strong network of relationship on “LinkedIn” than “Facebook” or“Orkut” (social networking sites). I often twitter and try to interact with high profile and mightpeople to get linked into my network. While interacting on social networking or professionalnetworking sites, I speak very highly about myself and added few things into my personalitywhich perhaps is not part of me. This is done to impress the larger audience but, the same is notpossible in face-to-face interaction because the chance of being exposed is very high. Face-to-face interaction is more instant and you cannot boast of what you are not. While dealing with people of different race or ethnic group, I am more prompted toknow about their culture and tend to interact to widen my social network group. Due toinquisitiveness and urge to know, there happens to be more eye contact and feel that center ofpower might shift from Europe and America to Asian countries. At one instance, one of Indianfriend told me how the Indian culture is so conservative and how for them relationship is soimportant and they do not get intimate with others so easily. On various “online chat” Idiscovered that Indian are adopting western norms so quickly and when I interacted with them
  3. 3. more often in face-to-face and on “online” my objective was to know the marked differences inour pronunciations, habits and the way we impose upon each other.Attachments: Communication and Identity.docx (20K)Communication and IdentityIn our discussion of the self thus far, we have emphasized communication behaviors that help toshape our self-concept, such as whether we think of ourselves as smart, honest, funny, orambitious, and the degree to which interactions with others support or challenge our views. Ourself-concept is also informed by our identity. Identity refers to the conception of oneself as amember of a group or category. Figure 2-2, the Identity Wheel, illustrates a few of the commongroups and categories that individuals often recognize as contributing to their identity. Some ofthese categories are probably more significant to you than others. As you look at the diagram,think about the spokes that are most relevant to you. Have the groups and categories that aremost important to you changed over time?Some aspects of identity are freely chosen, as in the case of the decision to join a group orparticipate in a leisure activity. For instance, you might be a member of a commuter studentgroup, a fraternity or sorority, an outdoor adventure club, a political organization, or a church,synagogue, or mosque. At other times, membership in a particular group, and therefore certainaspects of identity, are socially ascribed or assumed by others based on our physicalcharacteristics, such as race, sex, or physical ability, or our association with other members of agroup. For example, if a heterosexual male participates in a gay pride activity, some individualsmight assume he is gay based on his association with gay men. Identity can even be constructedaround a sense of place. Some residence halls place students together based on special interests,such as participation in outdoor sports or honors programs. Residents of public housing, by
  4. 4. contrast, are often referred to as “living in the projects” and associated with violence and illicitdrug activity owing to stereotypes of public housing perpetuated by the media (Vale 1995).We draw from identity categories to guide our decisions about what to say and how to respond toothers. Some of the most common categories are gender, social, and cultural identity.Gender and IdentitySome people suggest that the most significant force in shaping identity and self-concept is anindividual’s sex and the corresponding gender identity associated with being female or male.Although many people use the terms “sex” and “gender” interchangeably, they do not mean thesame thing.Sex and Gender.Most people divide the human sexes into two categories, male or female. Everyone is placed intoone of those categories based on genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics, such as theamount of facial hair or size of an individual’s breasts. Think about the last time you filled out asurvey or application. One of the first boxes on the form probably asked you to check “male” or“female.” The public restrooms we use, the school athletic teams we join, and the prices we payfor haircuts and alterations are often determined by our physical sex.These physical characteristics guide our assumptions about gender, which refers to theconception we have about what it means to be female or male, feminine or masculine, in oursociety. Perhaps you have noticed the difference between sex and gender in your everyday life,as when an athletic girl is called a “tomboy” or a man whistles at a long-haired passerby heassumes to be female. The communication behaviors we choose based on assumptions of genderare often far more important than the physical sex of an individual. We develop a genderidentity based on our conception of ourselves as male or female. These conceptions aboutmasculinity and femininity are often culturally specific. For example, displays of affectionbetween members of the same sex, such as two men holding hands, may be acceptable in oneculture but frowned upon in another. Definitions can also vary within cultures and countries; forinstance, in the United States, one male might see his masculinity defined by how much moneyhe can earn or how loudly he can shout down an opponent while another might base his self-concept on his degree of athletic skill or role as a father.Gender and Communication.From birth, people around us choose how to talk to us based on our gender. It doesn’t matter if ababy is male: If he is dressed in pink, North Americans are likely to call him “pretty.” A simplechange of clothes to blue can make others perceive him as masculine and call him “handsome.”For the rest of his life, others will talk to the boy based on assumptions about his masculinity,and as he grows up, his gender self-concept is likely to be one of the most important influenceson his own communication style.
  5. 5. Deborah Tannen (1982), a scholar of language and communication, argued that men tend toperceive social relations as hierarchical and to use talk that is competitive and task oriented. Inother words, their conversations establish “who’s on top” and how things will get done. Throughconversation, men negotiate their status, assert their competence, and preserve theirindependence because of their perceived identity as masculine males. Women who seethemselves as feminine often perceive the social world as based on support and socialconnections and use conversation as a way to share feelings and achieve intimacy. According toTannen, these different identities affect both the way women and men express themselves andhow they perceive communication. Women are more likely to phrase preferences as questions, asin “Would you like to see a movie?” whereas men use statements such as “Let’s see a movie.” Ifsomeone offers a woman help with a task, the woman is likely to see the assistance as a gestureof support. The man, Tannen wrote, is more likely to see the offer as a possible insult to hiscompetence.Tannen claimed that these differences are consistent between the sexes. Whether you agree withTannen or not, gender is certainly an important part of a person’s identity that contributes toone’s self-concept and worldview, and that exerts considerable influence on how peoplecommunicate.Social IdentitySome aspects of our identity are more “salient,” or more important and meaningful to us atcertain times than at others. The notion that we have many identities, some of which are moreimportant to our self-concept than others, is addressed by social identity theory (Abrams andHogg 1990). This theory states that our identification with social groups is important for our self-concept, and the relative salience of a given identity depends on the social context or setting weare in at a given time. We perceive different parts of our identity as more or less important basedon the status (e.g., distinctiveness or prestige) that our identification with a particular group willbring us in a given social situation. For example, when there is only one woman in a group ofmen, her sex and gender become especially noticeable. If, on the other hand, there are manyother women in the group, her gender is less likely to be important to her identity, and gender isless likely to have an influence on how others perceive her. Women in male-dominated work-places who perceive themselves to be of a lower social status than men are likely to downplaytheir femininity (e.g., speak assertively and wear masculine clothes) and view themselves interms of identities other than “female” (Swan and Wyer 1997). Or, consider the identity of amale construction worker who is also a wine connoisseur. When he goes to a party, he mightchoose to emphasize either his line of work or his passion for and knowledge of wine, dependingon how he thinks others in the group will evaluate his social status.These examples illustrate social identity theory, which suggests that social contexts help todictate which features of one’s identity a person will choose to express. Think about the choicesyou make when talking to others about your age, family, career goals, or religion. You might bemore inclined to mention your membership in an honor society to a potential employee than to anew friend. Your social identity, like your gender identity, makes up part of your self-conceptthat is both influenced by and helps to guide your interactions with others.
  6. 6. Cultural IdentityIn addition to our gender and social identities, our culture is another source of influence on ouridentity, self-concept, and communication patterns. It gives us a set of beliefs and assumptionsthat guide how we view the world. Culture includes everything that makes up our way of life,including shared values, knowledge, behaviors, and symbolic expression [p.23]. We buildcultures around both the social groups to which we choose to belong, such as religiousorganizations, and around physical characteristics, such as race. Consider the experience of Pam,an athletic, Chinese-American premed student. In college she is uncomfortable around some ofher Asian friends, who she feels could perceive her as either “too Americanized” based on herdirect manner and desire to be casual, independent, and creative, or “too traditional” due to herawe of college instructors and her acceptance of parental authority. Pam is not entirelycomfortable with some of her Caucasian peers, either. When she sees them skip class to watchsoap operas and consume alcohol instead of studying, their behaviors reinforce her impressionsthat they lack discipline, self-control, and respect for authority. Pam will have to negotiatebetween two cultures and the conflicting identities that each fosters (Ly-Phin Pan 1998).Our self-concept, identities, and cultural values all influence how we interact with others. Weoften see the world from the perspective of our cultures, and each culture has differentexpectations about communication behaviors. As Pam communicates with her friends andfamily, she is likely to use less eye contact and more formal, polite forms of talk with membersof Asian communities than with her Caucasian peers. Pam’s own sense of self will be guided bythe culture with which she identifies the most. For example, in the United States, people tend tovalue personal independence and direct talk, while in many Asian countries, personal identity isbased on relationships with families and communities, and the way people talk is guided by theexpectations of others.Our culture and identity enable us to see some things while not noticing others. When people talkto others who share their culture, they usually don’t notice regional pronunciations or wordchoices (do you say “soda” or “pop”?) that would stand out to others. When watching television,young and middle-aged viewers rarely notice the underrepresentation of elderly people (orwomen, most minorities, and disabled people) on the programs they watch (Norell 1999). Likegender and social identity, our cultural identity is apparent to us in some social contexts ratherthan others and influences both how we talk to others and how they respond to us. Figure 2-3shows how gender, social, and cultural identities are interrelated.Communicating Assumptions about IdentityOur assumptions about gender, social, and cultural identity guide our communication choices,which in turn can influence the ways others see themselves. Consider the identities that othershave, in effect, created for you, from the first insult you might have heard on a playground to thelabel a friend might use when introducing you to someone new. For example, Sharika mightintroduce her friend Laura as a new mother or as the manager of a software company; the choiceSharika makes helps to define Laura and influence the impressions others have of her. Theassumptions others make about Laura’s identity will guide how they communicate with her.
  7. 7. Allness.There are several ways that the words others use to describe us can influence our identity andself-concept. Sometimes, people resort to a practice called allness, which is the use of a singleaspect of someone else’s identity to describe that person without regard to her or his otherqualities. Perhaps you have heard Linda Cohen, a talented and respected journalist, described asa female sportscaster. Although Cohen is certainly female, that particular feature of her identityprobably has little bearing on her performance as a journalist. Allness is also an increasinglypopular way to insult others, as in the banter of sports commentators who label each other basedon how much hair the other has. Insults hurt, and the name-calling strategies we learn as childrenbecome refined in adulthood. Indeed, the most damaging names are those based oncharacteristics that we cannot easily change, such as race or physical peculiarities; such name-calling can do substantial damage to a person’s sense of self (Farb 1994).Stereotypes.Like allness, the use of stereotypes limits our understanding of other people’s identities. Whereasallness marks people based on a single feature of their identity, a stereotype is an unreliablegeneralization about a person based on a simplified image of a group to which the personbelongs. Those who rely on stereotypes assume that individuals in a group are like everyone elsein that group, be they blondes, lawyers, or Chicanos. Even so-called positive stereotypes havenegative consequences. Sarriet, an Asian-American, provides an example: “nice, quiet, polite,subservient, traditional, good student, good girl—Asian women stereotypes …. I do fit some ofthe stereotypes. I have to distinguish which things are really inherent to my personal being andthose I have because that’s what people expect me to have.” A racial epithet, often rooted instereotypes, conveys images that can be internalized by those to whom it is directed andreinforces negative behavior among those who overhear the slur (Calvert 1997). Ultimately,when we treat people to doubt themselves based on one feature of their identity or label them indamaging ways, they can incorporate those perceptions into their self-concept and become lesslikely to succeed and reach their potential. Finally, stereotypes can be contagious. People whoare surrounded by or exposed to denigrating stereotypes of others are likely to treat the victims ofthose stereotypes with less understanding and respect.Identity Tags.Another way that people are identified based on group membership is through identity tags, orlabels used by advertisers who seek to target a particular population or market for their product.You may be tagged instantaneously when you access websites on the Internet. When you visitmany websites, you are automatically marked as a member of a group or class. As you shop onpopular music websites, check scores on ESPN, or download software from PC World,advertisers are constructing an identity for you that may include your geographical location,browser type, Internet service provider, economic class, age, sex, and interests. From this kind ofinformation, marketers develop lifestyle identities for you (which may be largely inaccurate) andmay send you related e-mail promoting products or sites related to this profile.
  8. 8. The use of identity tags raises considerable questions about privacy and the ethics of acquiringand selling personal information. The identity tags that advertisers use are getting increasinglysophisticated. Consider technological advancements that have changed the ways ads aredelivered. For instance, in one advertising campaign, women who visited the iVillage diet andfitness channel three times in a 45-day period saw a Snapple-a-Day (a meal replacement product)ad the next time they visited iVillage. Once the women were tagged as interested in diet andfitness, they were served Snapple-a-Day ads whether they read their horoscope or researchedallergy medications (Oser 2004). Similarly, Google plans to scan confidential email to targetusers for specialized ads (Rupley 2004).As with allness and other forms of stereotyping, identity tags tend to blend self-concept, identity,and culture into one feature or characteristic of a person. Although they may appear to beefficient ways to communicate, they can limit the knowledge and understanding that the bestcommunication requires because they reduce people to simplified images or sets ofcharacteristics. As you read the box, “Communicating with the Elderly in Health Care Settings,”think about the assumptions many caregivers make about their elderly clients.Reference:Dobkin, B. A., & Pace, R. C., (2006). Communication in a changing world (2nd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

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