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It Is Primarily Through Our Identification With Social Groups That We Define Ourselves - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: "It is primarily through our identification with social groups that we define ourselves. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position."
An individual is a part of social groups. Most of the time, a simple and quick way to characterize an individual is to use social groups he/she belongs to, since individuals in a social group share some common characteristics. However, sometimes characteristics of social groups may not be adequate enough to describe an individual. Therefore, I agree that we can primarily define ourselves through social groups we belong to; in addition, we can also define ourselves with other unique characteristics to differentiate ourselves from others.
First of all, I agree that in some situations, an individual can identify himself/herself as a member of a social group he/she belongs to, in order to give other people a general impression. For instance, a foreigner who is in another country may identify himself with his nationality. Or when we first meet a friend, we may want to tell other people our jobs, thus they will have a quick, and general idea about us. For instance, if someone tells us he is a lawyer, we may have an impression that he may be eloquent, or logical. This is because a social group has some representative characteristics shared by its members. Another example would be, say, someone tells us he is a student at Harvard, then this may give us an impression that he is probably very good as academics and smart. Therefore, identifying an individual with social groups can give others a quick and general impression about this person, based on characteristics of social groups.
However, sometimes it is not enough or accurate to identify oneself sorely with social groups. In this case, we need to identify an individual with personal characteristics, since some characteristics of an individual can deviate from the group norm. For instance, when people talk about Englishman, characteristics such as conservative, or british accent may come to your mind. What if this person is an Englishman who grew up in the US? Then, he may have characteristics that are shared by Americans. Therefore, we always need personal details to accurately identify a person. Another example, are all engineering students the same even though they are in the same social group—engineering student? No, we know members in this social groups are different, and some may be good at music while others like sports. In addition, during a job interview, it is very important to tell the potential employee your personal experiences, because these personal characteristics help us standout. Thus, it is indispensable to use personal characteristics to identify ourselves and differentiate us from the others.
Overall, I agree that we can identify ourselves with social groups, but we also need personal characteristics to decribe ourselves more accurately.
Note that the original statement concerns not whether we _can_ define ourselves through our identification with social groups but whether we _do_ define ourselves in that way. Even though I find this prompt a bit unfair in terms of the relative vagueness of its wording, I suspect the fact that we _can_ define ourselves both through our identification with social groups and with reference to what you call "unique characteristics" is really a presupposition of the prompt, and therefore could not really form the basis of a response to the prompt. (One of the problems with the prompt is that it doesn't distinguish between defining oneself for others, and defining oneself for oneself. The idea we have of ourselves and the idea of ourselves that we share with others are not necessarily the same idea.) Your essay of course goes further than your first paragraph would lead one to believe. The end of your second paragraph, for instance, refers to the value of defining oneself through one's identification with a social group. That is an example of the kind of sentence that I think would constitute a reasonable response to this prompt. That is to say, it would be appropriate, in my view, to talk about what motivates us to define ourselves in the way we do. But I'm unsure about the rest of your essay. I'm sure it is true, as you suggest, that defining oneself through one's identification with social groups would produce a potentially very inaccurate self-definition, but it might be the case that we do define ourselves in that way anyway, and I find it hard to read the original statement as a statement about what is a good or appropriate way to define ourselves.
There are of course other ways in which we define ourselves. We can define ourselves in terms of our political beliefs or philosophical beliefs or our moral values or our basic likes and dislikes. Some of those beliefs and values and likes might well be tied up with our identification with social groups, or they might be independent of such identification. I think it would be reasonable to take the prompt to be asking whether you think it is true that these other ways of defining ourselves are unimportant relative to the importance of identification with social groups.