Models Of Cultural Identity Development Cultural Studies Essay

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Models of Cultural Identity Development

Culture is human practices, languages, and values that define social groups based on their ethnicity, religion, and common interests. Cultural identity helps people determine their sense of self and how they relate with each other in the society. Cultural identity defines how people identify or position themselves in different cultural contexts (Bernal, 1993). A strong cultural identity is essential for individual’s overall wellbeing in a community by creating harmony and understanding among different ethnic communities. Cultural identity is therefore dynamic in nature involving a complex feeling of belonging to an ethnic group. Bank’s theory on the development of ethnic identity provides a perfect framework that facilitates the formation of cultural identity among individuals in a society. According to his model, Bank describes six stages of ethnic development (Bernal, 1993).

Stage 1: Ethnic psychology Captivity

In this stage, a person identifies, absorbs, and accepts the negative beliefs, ideologies, and stereotypes about the culture of his/her ethnic group as perceived by the dominant society. As a minority group living in a dominant society with different cultures, Trusty et al. assert that an individual begins to show self- rejection towards their ethnic cultures, develop a low self-esteem and begin to despise his/her own ethnic culture and practices (2002). To achieve this, the person can respond by avoiding situations which may bring contact with different ethnic group or aggressively try to become culturally assimilated with the different culture. An individual will try to undergo a rapid cultural evolution by ignoring or replacing his/her native cultures with that of the dominant culture. However, if the person is denied structural assimilation or complete societal participation in the dominant culture, conflicts may arise (Sue et al, 1998). This can result in social withdrawal, inferiority symptoms, and further impact negatively on a person’s self-esteem. Prolonged stigma on the culture of the minority causes prolonged experience of psychological captivity (Trusty et al, 2002).

Stage 2: Ethnic Encapsulation

In this stage, Samovar et al explain that the individual resort to his/her culture, race or class and believes that their ethnic cultures are more superior to practices from other cultures (2009). It is characterized by voluntary separation from dominant culture as the person participates within his/her ethnic culture, ethnic exclusion, and encapsulation. The person may develop a defensive attitude towards his/her culture, ideas that some cultural groups are inferior and ethno-centric (Trusty et al, 2002). As a result, they can unknowingly become culturally isolated by the dominant culture. Historical context of cultural groups defines ethnic encapsulation in different ways. For example, the European-Americans living in all-White suburban US communities who believe in their cultural superiority and inferiority of other cultures are described as Stage 2 individuals since they practice ethnocentric and encapsulated lives (Bernal, 1993). On the other hand, people of color who live in an ethnic psychological captivity tend to develop hesitant feelings towards their own cultures when they discover the ethnic consciousness. As a result Bernal assert that a strong physical or verbal rejection against the dominant culture occurs (1993). People in this stage show strong commitment in the struggles to protect their group from external cultures.

Stage 3: Ethnic Identity Clarification

In this stage, individuals develop a clear positive attitude towards his/her culture. In addition, there are reduced conflicts as individuals can clarify personal attitudes and ethnic identity. The minority group gains self acceptance which leads to positive responses towards external cultural practices (Sue et al, 1998). An individual learns and accept both the positive and negative attributes of their culture. They also replace rejection, fear, and hate of external cultures by a genuine pride and acceptance of his/her traditions. This stage can only be experienced when individuals attain certain levels of economic breakthroughs and psychological security which enables them have positive experiences with members from the different cultural group (Sue et al, 1998). Economic breakthrough promotes individual’s social class, self-esteem, and facilitates his/her interaction with people from opposing culture.

Stage 4: Bi-Ethnicity

Individuals in this stage possess a healthy sense of ethnic identity, positive psychological characteristics, and necessary skills to successfully participate in both external and his/her own culture. Cultural integration begins to set in and individuals try to practice both opposing practices (Samovar et al, 2009). People have a strong sense of their ethnic identity and a respect to opposing cultures. The minority group functions on a bi-ethnic level since most individuals develop strong desire to participate in more than one cultural group.

Stage 5: Multi-Ethnic and Reflective Nationalism

People in this stage have clear positive personal, ethnic, and national identifications as well as a positive attitude towards different ethnic and cultural groups. They can operate within several cultural groups in a country and be able to understand, appreciate, and share different values, opinions, symbols, and institutions of different ethnic cultures without conflict (Samovar et al, 2009). People in this stage show commitment to their culture, empathy, strong allegiance, human dignity and justice to both their cultural group and country. Cultural sharing like eating, language, and listening to music are performed. People become more united by virtues of love, caring and understanding of each other’s positive and negative sides of their cultures and the need for harmony. Many people strive to understand values and traditions of other cultures and to function within these different ethnic cultures at a more meaningful level (Sue et al, 1998).

Stage 6: Globalism and Global Competency

People in this stage have a clear, reflective, positive ethnic, national, and global knowledge and identification of different cultures. In addition, they posses’ skills, positive attitudes, and abilities to successfully interact with people from different culture. Consequently they can easily share and function within and outside the country with people from other parts of the world. People in this stage have the ability to balance the ideal delicate ethnic, national, and global cultural identifications and behaviors (Sue et al, 1998). Moreover, they understand universal ethical values and natural principles of mankind; their skills, and necessary commitments needed to actualize personal values.

Atkinson, Morten, and Sue Model

Atkinson, Morten, and Sue which is a five stage model developed between 1979 to 1998 serve as the foundation for the variety of ethnic identity development models which have been proposed. The first stage is the Conformity where the minority group identifies with the dominant race; they decline their own culture and due to stereotypes and belief by the dominant culture and instead assume a different culture (Trusty et al, 2002). In the Dissonance stage, encounter with the dominant culture cause individual to question the culture and begin to develop interest over his/her own culture. Conflicts exist between personal attitudes the dominant culture. His/her develops a negative personal attitude towards other different minority groups. In the third Resistance and Immersion stage, individuals from minority group begins to appreciate his/her own culture and develop empathy for other minority groups. People tend to resist and withdraw from dominant culture and instead see it as oppressive. The stage is also characterized with minority culture centrism. In the introspection stage, Trusty et al asserts that the minority attempts to integrate the redefined identity in the dominant culture (2002). Individuals are more concerned with appreciating own culture and tries to integrate their culture with the dominant culture without compromising any aspects of his/her own culture. In the final stage called Synergistic Articulation and Awareness, individuals attain optimum identity and are able to identify their wishes, appreciate different cultures and manage to accurately balance all aspects of his/her culture (Trusty et al, 2002). Individuals seem to appreciate other minority cultures but however show selective appreciation to the dominant culture.

Helm’s White Racial Identity Development Model

Similarly, Helm developed a six stage White Racial Identity model. In the first stage called the contact, people are ignorant of racial discrimination. Factors influencing cultural superiority or inferiority between White and Black communities are not noticed since the groups seldom think they are superior (Sue et al, 1998). As a result, racial and cultural differences are seen as less important by these groups. In the second stage called Disintegration, conflicts arise from racial moral dilemmas. People become more conscious of their race and may experience conflict between choosing his/her group and human values. In the third stage, Helm describes Reintegration to seen as a regression since it tends to idealize an individual’s cultural group to be intolerant of other minor cultures. The White racial superiority exists and the minority cultures are blamed for their problems (Sue et al, 1998). In the Pseudo-Independence stage, people begin to study and understand racial, cultural, and sexual orientation and try to reach out minority groups based on their similarities. In Immersion or Emersion stage, people continue to explore their racial being and a personal meaning and benefits of racism. The people are also willing to confront personal biases and join the fight against racial discrimination and oppression (Schutte, 1993). In the final Autonomy stage, people accept their roles in promoting racism and strive to attain harmonious co-existence leading to an autonomy status. They gain knowledge on the values and diversity of racial, ethnic, and cultural differences. As a result they eliminate fear over race thus creating strong nonracist individuals in the society.

Hispanic Identity Development Model

Close to four decades after the US government mandated the use Hispanic term to categorize Americans from Spanish background, many, Hispanic communities in the US are yet to embrace the name. In addition, many today say that most Hispanic communities in the US have more different cultures than common ones (Schutte, 1993). About half of the over 50 million Hispanic community in the US still believes that their culture is distinct from the typical American culture. With regards to their identity, although they are Americans, Hispanic prefers use of their mother country’s name over the Government adopted term to define their identity. However others are slowly adopting the name while some prefer to be identified as Americans. The Hispanic identity model can be categorized into five stages. The Causal stage is characterized by rejection of Hispanic culture as individuals fails to identify with their culture due to stereotypes by the dominant culture (Schutte, 1993). In the Cognitive stage, Hispanic individuals mentally accepts the stereotypes and the belief that assimilation with the dominant culture as the only means to success and escape from their culture. As a result, fragmentation and isolation from native cultural practices like names, cultural customs, and accent occurs in the Consequence stage. Individuals tend to regret coming from their cultural background and strive to attain dominant cultures (Samovar et al, 2009). Two dynamics distinguishes the Working Through stage. The psychological stress from cultural identity conflicts becomes difficult to cope with and the individual can no longer pretend to belong to the dominant culture. As a result, he/she reintegrates the cultures as he/she becomes more ethnic conscious. In the final stage known as Successful Resolution, there is a greater acceptance of personal cultural practices, self awareness, and high self-esteem as one realizes his/her own ethnic identity (Sue et al, 1998). In both Hispanic and Black identity development, both separation and reintegration of individual’s culture exists. In both cases separation results from negative stereotypes from the dominant culture while reintegration is due to conflicts arising from the new dominant culture and the individual’s realization of his/her identity (Schutte, 1993).