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Issue : It Is Primarily Through Our Identification With Social Groups That We Define Ourselves - With A Free Essay Review



Social groups refer to a collection of individuals who share a common goal, profession, ethnicity, religion, nationality or other social characteristics. It is by identifying oneself with one or more of these social groups that people determine their place in society and thus "define" themselves. It is impossible to integrate into society if one does not consider himself/herself to be part of one of these groups which constitute our society.

Humans are said to be "social animals". The necessity to identify ourselves with a social group arises from our failure to live in isolation. The various social groups provide an interface to blend into society and thus facilitate sharing thoughts and beliefs, leading to overall development of the mind through cooperation.

People can be part of the same professional group such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, politicians, scientists, professors, businessmen, sportsmen, etc. This allows the people belonging to a particular profession to all come together and interact. This leads to both innovation as well as criticism which are both required for development of any profession. For example a group of scientists may perform a research together or critically judge another scientist's work. If a person does not consider himself/herself to be a scientist in the first place, then he/she will not be able to contribute to the scientific community and review the works. Thus social identification with respect to profession is important because it ensures cooperative development of both the individual.

People also identify themselves as being part of the same age group or peer group such as infants, teenagers, middle-aged, or elderly. This is important since humans are "social animals" and thus not well accustomed to living in isolation. An elderly person desires to be with other people of the same age since that gives him/her company and they can mutually take care of one another. Young children like to play with each other because they can connect better than with older people.

We can also identify ourselves as being part of a nation. This enables us to share our joys when some athlete from the same nation wins a medal in the Olympics. If we did not identify ourselves as being a citizen of that nation, there would be no emotional connection to the achievements of individuals belonging to that nation or of the nation as a whole. Similarly we would also be unable to share our grief when the nation is struck by a calamity and our fellow citizens perish.

Thus we find that identification of individuals with one or more social group gives us a pillar of support and cooperation and enriches our lives. This makes it a natural human instinct to force ourselves to view us a member of one or more social group.

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ESSAY REVIEW

You have looked intelligently here at many of the ways in which people could be said to define themselves through identification with social groups, and so have made a reasonably good positive case for the given claim. The essay, however, remains one-sided and incomplete for me because it does not consider any other possible ways in which we might define ourselves. Is there not also a sense in which we deliberately refuse to define ourselves in terms of our identification with social groups, for example? That is to say, do we not also define ourselves (perhaps mistakenly) in terms of our difference from social groups, in terms of attributes or characteristics or beliefs or values that we think (again, perhaps mistakenly) distinguish us as individuals or make us unique, or that at least are independent of our identification with social groups? When you think about it, there are probably borderline issues. If I define myself as a Christian or an atheist, say, is that a matter of my identification with a social group or a purely personal matter?

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: pritz_0601
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