One of the underlying human needs – the desire for a likening search of worship object. The individual, thrown into the world of mysterious things and events, simply not able to understand the purpose and meaning of surrounding life. He needs a system of orientations, that would give him the opportunity to identify himself with some recognized model.
The cultural consequences of expanding contacts between representatives of different countries and cultures can be expressed in the gradual erasing of cultural identity. We can see the evidence of it in the youth culture. Young people wearing the same jeans, listening to the same music, worship the same pop stars or actors. The natural reaction of the elder generation on it was the wish to save their identity and differences of their culture. That is why nowadays intercultural communication is a particularly relevant issue of cultural identity.
Cultural identity is self-awareness of a personal of belonging to a particular culture. The ideas of belonging, community and the fact of identification with others are the fundamental elements of all human systems. Also, the concept of “identity” is now widely used in ethnology, psychology, cultural and social anthropology. In the psychological literature, the identification process means complex emotional and psychological and other self-identification of the individual with other people, a group or artistic character.
Individual and group cultural identity were changed in accordance with the historical transformations. For example, for ten thousand years of agriculture individuals domination in the world were strongly identified with the family, clan, village, or other groups that captured an individual at birth. The individual has been born as a member of the family and racial group. Religion was accepted by parents and the local community. Thus, the basic individual and group cultural attachment were determined at birth. Group identity was remaining constant throughout a person’s life.
The need in cultural identity exists because each person needs a certain order in the everyday life and the one can get it in the community of other people. To become a part of any community person has to accept all prevailing elements of consciousness, tastes, habits, norms, values, and other means of communication, taken from the people around him. The assimilation of all these manifestations of the group’s social life makes life orderly and predictable in some way, and it makes a person involved in a particular culture.
The essence of cultural identity is the conscious acceptance cultural norms and patterns of behavior, values, and language that are accepted in the community, in the self-identification of himself with the cultural patterns of this particular society.
Cultural identity has a decisive influence on the process of intercultural communication. It involves a set of specific resistant properties, due to which some cultural phenomena and people cause us a sense of sympathy or antipathy. Depending on this, we choose the appropriate type, manner, and form of communication with them.
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At the present time, the nature of cultural identity is changing. Racial, ethnic and religious subgroups dividing into smaller, more diverse mini-groups. Differences that were previously considered minor, acquire cultural and political significance.
Not by chance, we are witnessing an aggressive self-organization on the part of groups such as the elderly people, those who are suffering from physical disabilities, homosexuals, war veterans, all of them feel that mass society treats them unfairly.
There are new identity groups, and the rapid social process gets critical acceleration thanks to the mass media: specifically addressed publications, cable television, satellite, the Internet, etc.
Moreover, nowadays the individual less and less linked to the context of his birth and has a large selection of self-determination. Noticeably accelerated the pace of social and cultural changes, so that the forms of identification are becoming more short-lived. New forms of self-identification are superimposed on the old, perhaps more deeply rooted, the layers of racial and ethnic identity.
The question of national identity has not been the subject of the notable discussions until the last decade, however, the processes of globalization, problems related to immigration and integration processes that threaten traditional values and way of life of individual nations and cultures, represent a risk of losing their cultural identity. That is why this issue is widely discussed nowadays.