The different point of view and putting into light

The topic which questions different
aspects of my life and how it has transformed me into the person I am today is
one I actually find myself coming back to often, and each time it gets harder
to pinpoint exactly what it is. So what makes this essay difficult to
comprehend upon, is the process of making a narrative for those who are
interested in having a prospect on the world from a different point of view and
putting into light matters that may be brushed to the side. The notion of the individuality
is perhaps one of the most basic foundations of culture. This also brings to
the light the definition of culture which I will be using; Geertz’s (1973) definition
of culture. Geertz defines culture as “a system of inherited conceptions
expressed in symbolic forms by means of which people communicate, perpetuate,
and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life” (Geertz, 1973, p.
89). Other narrative theorists agree that the “cultural self” is derived from memory
models (Nelson, 2004, p. 87). I agree that narratives about the self are
culturally positioned and to simply put it, “‘my story’ can never be wholly
mine, alone, because I define and articulate my existence with and among
others” (Freeman, 2001, p. 287). There are many aspects in which I could touch
upon within my life which I believe that has shaped me, but I want to focus on
a main theme which is ‘othering’. Within my autobiographical essay, I touch
upon topics of racism, sexism and labelling in accordance with ‘othering’ and
how this has shaped me to be the person I am today. In other words, if I were
to dig much deeper into it, I would view myself through the experiences and through
the people who have played a role in my life. Through this idea, it helps to
explain my self-concept as I consider this essay as transformative for me
provided I have theorised many aspects of my identity along with it.

 

The exposure of my personal life
and experience for the consumption of the public readers is not what I am used
to; I would describe myself to be very reserved in what I choose to touch upon.
The main reason as to why I am very hesitant in putting out my experiences is
because my actions, even if it’s something I have no control over, has always
come under scrutiny no matter who it is.

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 Other girls’ voices within the
friendship group were consequently hushed and at times even silenced depending
on their position within the group, sometimes under the instruction of the
‘popular girl leader’. (R. George, 2007). I agree with this as I have
experienced the power discourse within the playground between girls, however
another thought that comes to mind is that the process of ‘othering’ could not
have just come about into these kids’ minds. We believe that a child’s first
base in terms of interactions is within the family context and our social
identities are constructed through interactions with others- as humans we are
able to reflect and change in accordance to these social exchanges
(Herbert-Mead, 1934). Mead’s works have shown that we may change our image
based on our interactions in regards to these interactions- also known as the
looking glass self. Unfortunately, this issue has not been addressed
adequately as the process of ‘othering’ rather points towards a deeper process,
which points to the initial socialisation of a child.

Bauman sees our identities set up
through the notion of otherness, which is vital to the way societies agree upon
categories of identities (Bauman, 1993), he uses the example of the ‘other’
being diametrically opposite to oneself or a stranger (Bauman, 1998). However,
Jenkins differs in his view as he says. “A group is a self-conscious
collectivity, rooted in processes of internal definition and while a category
is external defined.” (Jenkins, 2011, p54) This means that in terms of
ethnicity there will be an open door for othering to take place, because an
internal definition is based on one’s own meaning of their social identity. Whereas
the process of external definition means that someone outside of this
individual sphere is attaching a definition (Jenkins, 2011, p53)

So in essence, a group is
internally defined, but a category is externally defined. A group is defined by
its size as it is the build-up of individuals who are mindful of the cultural
values of their own group. However, a category is more comprehensive in its
external definition as it more made up of people with the power to give a name
to social relation for example; scientists (Jenkins, 2011). I believe that this
experience has shaped an aspect of my personality today because as people, we
seem to assign meaning to the world through oppositions. I tend to see myself
from the ‘other’s’ perspective and I know that this has some negative
consequences upon me because there will always be something that I am comparing
myself with. I have seen significant changes in myself as I am always trying to
be a perfectionist and I often aim to blur the distinction between myself and
the other, through experience, being ‘othered’ in a negative way especially
during childhood, is not a good feeling. As Hall stated; ‘identities are the names we give to the
different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the
narratives of the past’ (S. Hall, 1996). My identity as it is in the present
tense, is different in regards to my identity in the past and will probably
change further on in the future. My thirst to know more about the struggle of
my country has shaped my identity because it may be that I am aware about a
historical moment of trauma and oppression, making me much more empathetic
towards my culture. This is because society is constantly going through change
in which security and stability of cultures in society is being threatened
(Giddens 1984: 41-92), which makes it important to me to understand my cultural
roots.