KEY ELEMENTS OF MY PERSONAL CULTURAL IDENTITY
KEY ELEMENTS OF MY PERSONAL CULTURAL IDENTITY
Understanding cultural identity is one of the most significant issues in the contemporary society. First of all, it is profound to comprehend the meaning of culture. According to Zion, culture is “the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that the members of society use to interact with their world and with one another” (Zion, 2005). Understanding our personal, cultural identity is vital since cultural orientation is present in almost all works of life. Most people make various assumptions concerning an individual’s culture based on only one or two cultural indicators such as race and ethnicity. However, it is imperative to note that cultural identity is complex because we all belong to different cultural groups. These groups have varied impacts on our values, beliefs, behavior, and how we perceive issues in the society. Zion asserts that “Cultural identity is constructed within the individual, but continually influenced by the interactions among and between people in society” (Zion, 2005). As such, it is imperative to discuss and explain the critical elements of cultural identity based on my personal culture. Hence, the key elements of cultural identity that will be explored include family, social class, gender, ethnicity, religion, and education.
The Family as cultural identity
I was born in an Indian family but currently studying Nursing in Northern Territory of Australia. In my Indian Culture, the family is one of the most significant institutions. The family is characterized by collectivism whereby values such as family unity, family integrity, and family loyalty are emphasized. Collectivism is a feature whereby there is a great sense of harmony in the family leading to interdependence and concern for others (Hallam, 2012). In such a case, our family members play a vital role in making decisions such marriage, career choice, and choosing of partners. The other crucial issue with my family is that strict discipline is encouraged. This is mainly possible because the Hindu family is characterized by kinship ties and extended family. As well, in this extended family, there is a substantial emphasis on respect of the elders. For instance, me and my peers we are encouraged to respect the elderly members of the society. it is imperative to note that my family also endorses traditional gender roles. Thus, my three brothers and one sister must adhere to these traditional gender roles recommended by the family. The Indian family is considered as stable, reliable, and resilient. The primary reason for this consideration is that the family consist of kinsmen and a generation that include uncles, aunts, grandparents, nephews, and nieces all residing within similar household but different houses (Bader, 2007). Therefore, the family plays a vital role in making me a competent practitioner in a multicultural healthcare environment since I have learned issues such as respect for elders, family unity, family integrity, and family loyalty.
Social class as cultural identity
The Indian culture is characterized by various social classes mainly divided into three groups. The first category of class is the high-class members of the society. these are the people who are considered as rich and wealthy. This social class mainly consists of leaders, civil servants, politicians, and others who own properties and other things of wealth. The second category is the middle social class. For instance, I consider that I belong to a family in a middle social class level. Finally, the last social class is the lower class whereby people in this category struggle to make ends meet. Families in this social class live below the poverty line, and they find it hard to get meals, clothing, and educate their children (Gray & Thomas, 2010).
Also, it is imperative to note that social stratification in India caste is one of the most crucial and perhaps significant sets of role cards. In this case, children have the responsibility to inherit from their parents. As such, children inherit, functions, property, and status of their parents. In connection with the above, it is crucial to note that caste and social class work in line. For instance, an individual member of the society that belongs to the lower class such as a sweeper can get lucrative employment. In the long run, such a person can save and change his or her life standards. Therefore, such a member of the society can bear children who can in future be lawyers, doctors, and engineers. Finally, it is imperative to note that there are minimal social class conflicts in India. For instance, a talented member of the lower class can make it in politics and thus get the support of the middle and high social class. Consequently, the social class plays a vivacious role in making me a competent practitioner in a multicultural healthcare environment since I am conversant with interacting and respect people from different social classes in the society.
Gender as cultural identity
Indian culture still has some gender discrimination. For instance, the Indian society considers that the birth of a son baby is a blessing as compared to the birth of a girl child. This is a clear indication that my culture still discriminates against women. There are several instances where women in the society are discriminated against. one of the most significant aspect of life where women are discriminated against is employment. Men are preferred in most of the employment opportunities. The other aspect where gender biases are demonstrated is in education. Most families educate the male child as compared to the female child. Other areas where discrimination is depicted is in leadership positions whereby the males are preferred to lead (Shennan, 2008).
However, it is worth noting that currently there has been a great improvement in the issue of gender discrimination. Education is one of the factors that has played a vital role in the streamlining of gender equality. Educated families realize the need to empower the girl child since the have skills and talents that can outshine the male dominated society. In that connection, there is a substantial need to fight against such kind of gender stereotypes. Thus, the gender as an element of cultural identity may adversely affect me in my competence as a practitioner in a multicultural healthcare environment since I was brought up in a male-dominated society. however, I have learned the need to exercise gender equality and am ready to treat both males and female as equal (Andrew, Ferguson, & Simpson, 2009).
Ethnicity as cultural identity
Ethnicity is one of the most crucial elements of cultural identity in Indian society. Research reveals that India consists of a large population of different ethnic groups. These ethnic groups all have varied religious and cultural beliefs and practices. The assimilation of different ethnic groups especially in my culture makes India one of the unique countries across the globe. My culture consists of various ethnic groups, and this has led to a difference in the hues of race, religion, language, culture and others. The existence of these different groups has played a vital role in the variation in behavior and practices of the members of the society.
In addition to the above, it is imperative to note that the existence of regional territories has been elemental in the differentiation of these ethnic groups. This is mainly because each group has its cultural identities and social identities. The vast existence of varied ethnic groups has led to the increase in different religious denominations in India. Some of the most common of these religions include Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism. However, my family belongs to the Hindu religion which is part of my cultural identity. Therefore, ethnicity play a vital role in making me a competent practitioner in a multicultural healthcare environment since my culture consist of various ethnic groups, and I have interacted and shared ideas with them without conflicts or problems (Gray & Thomas, 2010).
Religion as cultural identity
Religion is the other crucial and key element of cultural identity. There are several religions in India, but I belong to the Hindu religion. This religion consists of various customs and traditions that make it’s a culture unique from other religions such as Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Thus, it is profound to note that this religion emphasizes on some of the key traditions that are observed. I was born in a small village in this the most crucial places where these religious customs and beliefs are practiced and emphasized. However, this does not mean that people residing in the towns do not adhere to this customs and traditions, but the level of staunchness substantially vary. As well, these customs vary from one region to the other and from one caste to the other (Andrew, Ferguson, & Simpson, 2009).
As part of the explanation of my personal, cultural identity, I will outline some of the common customs that we practice and play a vital role in the religion. First of all, we do not wear footwear inside our homes, temples, and other places that are considered as holy. As well, we are not allowed to enter the temples while drunk or have taken nonvegetarian food. Secondly, we apply a standing line of kumkum between the eyebrows on the forehead during worship times. Thirdly, most of the marriages take the form of arranged marriage but with the consent of the groom and the bride. Finally, the Hindu women and girls pierce their nose (Shennan, 2008). In short, these are some of the customs that make our religion unique from the others that exist in India and other parts of the world. Therefore, religion play a crucial role in making me a competent practitioner in a multicultural healthcare environment since I have interacted well with various religions such as Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
In conclusion, cultural identity plays a phenomenal role in enhancing my competence working as a practitioner in a multicultural healthcare environment. The Hindu family consist of the extended family where respect for elders, family unity, integrity, and loyalty is emphasized. On social class as cultural identity, the Indian culture is characterized by various social classes mainly divided into three groups namely; high, middle, and lower class. However, emphasis is laid on respecting all the members of the society despite their class. As such, I am in a good position to respect and value all the members of the society. in addition to above elements of cultural identity, ethnicity play a vital role in making me a competent practitioner in a multicultural healthcare environment since my culture consist of various ethnic groups and I have interacted and shared ideas with them without conflicts or problems. Finally, gender and religion as well play a significant role in enhancing my competence as practitioner in a multicultural healthcare environment. All these elements of my culture work well with health professional’s professional codes of ethics, Standard of Practice and Competency standard.
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