You are on page 1of 10

Massey

1
Hayden Massey
ENGL 1120 -023
6 April 2016
Dr. Simkins
A Solution to Uniformity
Cultural identity is the idea that individuals associate with one another
through cultural beliefs and customs. A strong cultural identity is necessary to an efficient
world because cultural identity is also associated with diversity. In today’s world, the
population has started to dissociate with their own culture and identify with someone
else’s. With the growing problem of cultural identity loss, the human population is
beginning to become less and less diverse. The loss of cultural identity of people in first
world countries is contributing to uniformity, thus causing a lack of diversity in these
populations.
Since first world countries are industrialized, they require a work force made
up of the individual country’s population to keep the businesses and firms running.
According to Taylor Cox and Stacy Blake, the work force must maintain diversity in
order to increase efficiency “Workforce demographics for the United States and many
other nations of the world indicate that managing diversity will be on the agendas of
organizational leaders,” (45). For the purpose of this paper, diversity is referenced to a
group of individuals, all with different cultural identities. Diversity leads to a greater
depth of knowledge because each individual brings a new side to the table. This
knowledge then makes the business more productive; “Knowledge diversity facilitates
the innovative process by enabling the individual to make novel associations and

Massey
2
linkages.” (Nieto and Santamaría. Para. 23). Therefore, businesses strive to create a
diverse environment within their business because it expands the amount and degree of
ideas. By having individuals maintain their own cultural identity, diversity is also
maintained, thus creating an efficient economy.
The loss of identity can be caused by the need to “fit in” or “impress” the new
culture. Such loss most commonly occurs after a migration from one area to another.
According to Dinesh Bhugra, “When individuals migrate from one nation state or culture
to another, be it for temporary or permanent residence or for economic, political or
educational purposes, there is every likelihood that aspects of that individual’s cultural
and ethnic identity will change,” (121). These individuals subdue to acculturation in order
to feel welcomed by the host culture. Acculturation is when an individual learns new
information about a new culture and loses some parts of their culture of origin.
Acculturative stress occurs as a side effect of acculturation that depends on personal
events and situations that cause individuals to make adjustments on the way they behave
or act around others in the new culture. (Vega, Gil, and Wagner 125).
Another reason behind the loss of cultural identity is the influx in the use of
technology. The rise in technology has caused an “erosion of barriers that have,
throughout history, geographically, linguistically, and culturally separated people.”(Adler.
Para. 4). Now that people have the whole world at their hands and can view these
different cultures, they may feel as if they should conform to them. For example, when a
teen in India can see what Americans are doing via Facebook, Instagram, etc. that
individual may strive to be like them or conform to them based off of their popularity on
social media. In today’s society, there are people that are considered “Instagram famous,”

Massey
3
which means that they have a lot of followers from all over the world that idolize them
because of their social media. These people are seen as cool and some of their followers
may want to be like them, so they mimic the famous individuals ways. By doing so, they
are losing their cultural identity. Also, social movements are causing a loss of cultural
identity. In being a part of a social movement, the group of people often congregate over
a similar belief. Mass groups of people are beginning to identify together, thus
compromising some of their cultural beliefs and conforming to others. All of these causes
are ultimately causing a wave of uniformity, leading to a loss of cultural identity.
There are two main ways to combat cultural identity loss. One is to preserve
culture and the other is to discourage acculturation to another culture. Both are very
important in sustaining cultural identity. One way to help individuals maintain their own
culture is to promote the use of their original language. Since language is rooted with
culture, by preserving languages, individuals can help preserve their culture of origin. In
order to combat the loss of cultural identity, we need to end the idea that “other cultures
are bad” and that “our culture is dominant and better than everyone.” One way to do this
is to end the stigma against different cultures. By ending the stigma, individuals will feel
less pressure to conform to another culture. Another way would be to teach students
about other cultures in school. By teaching them, we are raising awareness and diversity,
thus encouraging them to preserve their own culture.
Often, when individuals conform to a new culture, they can develop bad habits
from the new host culture. William Vega states that drug use is often a byproduct of the
acculturation process of immigrants. Vega uses the example of a rise in drug use upon
adolescent Hispanics and links it to the social and cultural factors in the United States

Massey
4
(125). Vega states that, “The contrast of endemic American drug use and minimal use in
Latin America points to the importance of investigating social and cultural factors to
explain variations in drug use in the United States. There is something about American
society that endangers experimentation and addiction at a much higher rate than
experienced in other nations.” (125.) Vega deems that Hispanic migration to America is
causing them to get involved with drugs at an earlier age. This can be caused by the
Hispanics desire to fit in with the American population so that they don’t appear as an
outcast in society. By ending the stigma against having a different culture, and by
teaching in schools that having a different culture is okay, we could prevent the rise in
adolescent drug use among immigrants.
Often times, when individuals conform to a new culture, they develop bad habits
from the new host culture. William Vega states that drug use is often a byproduct of the
acculturation process of immigrants. Vega uses the example of a rise in drug use upon
adolescent Hispanics and links it to the social and cultural factors in the United States
(125). Vega states that, “The contrast of endemic American drug use and minimal use in
Latin America points to the importance of investigating social and cultural factors to
explain variations in drug use in the United States. There is something about American
society that endangers experimentation and addiction at a much higher rate than
experienced in other nations,” (125.) Vega deems that Hispanic migration to America is
causing them to get involved with drugs at an earlier age. This can be caused by the
Hispanics need to fit in with American population, so that they aren’t deemed as outcast
in society. By ending the stigma against having a different culture or being different, and
by teaching in schools that having a different culture is okay, we could prevent the rise in

Massey
5
adolescent drug use among immigrants.
By ending the stigma associated with being different, we can help promote
cultural identity. In today’s society, it is popular for people to look down upon someone
for being different, whether that is the way they dress, talk, or act. When people migrate
to an area with a different culture, they are often looked down upon because they seem
different. By working to end the stigma of being different, we can promote embracing
cultural identity and cultural differences. One way to do this is by promoting “being
different” at a young age. By promoting originality in younger students, we can plant the
idea that different is good. This ideal will then carry on to show that cultural differences
are acceptable, thus taking away the peer pressure for individuals to assimilate to the
dominant culture. This can help combat cultural identity loss in social movements and the
rise in use of technology because individuals are conforming to new cultures in order to
seem cool or fit in. By showing that standing out is okay, these individuals may feel less
pressure to conform, thus sustaining cultural identity.
Another way to maintain cultural identity is to teach it in schools so that new
cultures don’t seem as foreign to students. For example, if a student knows about
someone’s culture, he or she is more likely to accept this person and their culture into
their society because it doesn’t seem as different and odd. According to James Banks, a
way to do this is to incorporate it into schools curriculums;
The infusion of ethnic and cultural content into the subject area should be logical,
not contrived. The widespread belief that content integration constitutes the whole
of multicultural education might be an important factor that causes many teachers
of subjects such as mathematics and science to view multicultural education as an

Massey
6
endeavor primarily for social studies and language arts teachers. More
opportunities exist for the integration of ethnic and cultural content in some
subject areas than in others. In social studies, language arts, music, and family and
consumer sciences, there are frequent and ample opportunities for teacher to use
ethnic and cultural content to illustrate concepts, themes, and principles. (Banks.
Page 8 and 9).
By having teachers incorporate culturally diverse examples into their curriculums, they
are teaching the students about these cultures, thus making the students more diverse.
This can cause the students to be more culturally aware and less judgmental of people of
different cultures. The knowledge of cultures and recognition of their importance can lead
to a rise in students identifying with their own personal culture, and not subduing to
another, thus combating loss of cultural identity. This is very prevalent in social
movements and technology advances because here we often see students abandon their
beliefs to conform to other’s cultures.
Since language is deeply rooted with culture, the sustainability of languages can
ultimately lead to the sustainability of culture. Language “expresses cultural
reality,”(Kramsch. Page 3) and is “a symbol of their social identity.”(Kramsch. Page 3).
Since humans communicate primarily through talking, language plays a large role in the
portrayal of culture and cultural beliefs. The sustainability of language is just one way
that communities can maintain their cultural identity. One way to sustain languages is to
promote the learning of languages in schools and communities. For example, when more
people know Spanish in the United States, the immigrants don’t feel as pressured to learn
and convert fully to Anglo-American culture. While it is helpful for immigrants to learn

Massey
7
their host countries language, they should speak their cultures language also in order to
maintain that link to their past. If the host country also has a population that speaks this
language, it makes it easier to do. Immigrants must incorporate their language into their
everyday life in order to sustain it. For example, Different areas of the world have
different dialects. In the South, we say “y’all” instead of “you all” or “you guys” as in the
north. Also, different areas have different slang terms and different colloquialisms. For
example, in Boston they call package or liquor stores “Packie,” or in Minnesota, they use
the word “Oofda” to express distress when lifting. These various dialects and slang terms
show difference between groups of people. These terms help define people and their lives
and stories. The way one speaks identifies him with his culture. By not speaking their
language, including dialects, colloquialism, and slang, they are losing a sense of
themselves and their culture. To sustain language, we must speak it, write it, and talk
about it. We can do this by implementing classes that teach languages that go along with
popular non-dominant ethnic groups in the area. Most commonly, French and Spanish are
the two primary foreign language classes taught in American Schools. All in all, language
is a key element in maintaining a world with individual cultural identities and will help
combat the identity loss in individuals who migrate from culture to culture.
Some may say that immigrants who do not or cannot assimilate to the host culture
suffer from mental disorders. One example shows that is a study by Odegaard,
Norwegians who migrated to the USA had higher schizophrenia rates than those
Norwegians who didn’t migrate. (Bhugra. Para. 3). While this may be the case for some,
it isn’t the case for all immigrants. Acculturative stress is a common side effect of
migration. The levels of acculturative stress vary from person to person; acculturative

Massey
8
stress is considered part of the acculturation process. While the alienation from migration
can cause stress and possible mental disorders, the benefits of maintaining cultural
identity and promoting cultural diversity outweigh the consequences.
In conclusion, a strong cultural identity leads to diversity within a community.
Diversity is useful in having a successful and efficient company. Cultural identity can be
maintained through sustaining languages, teaching about culture, and ending the stigma
of being different. However, many factors such as peer pressure, social movements, and
technology seem to be suppressing the idea of maintaining cultural identity. Ultimately,
the decision to maintain or suppress one’s personal cultural identity is up to the
individual, even though it is possible to influence the individuals. Furthermore, sustaining
cultural identity in first world countries is desirable because maintaining a diverse
population wreaks many benefits for the community.

Works Cited:

Massey
9

Adler, Peter. "Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism - Journal of
North East India Studies." Journal of North East India Studies Beyond Cultural
Identity Reflections on Multiculturalism Comments. Ed. Larry Samovar and
Richard Porter. Wadsworth Publishing, 12 Aug. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

Banks, James A., and James A. Banks. Cultural Diversity and Education: Foundations,
Curriculum, and Teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001. Print.

Bhugra, Dinesh. "Migration, Distress, and Cultural Identity." British Medical Bulletin
69.1 (2004): 129-41. Oxford Journals. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

Cox, Taylor H., and Stacy Blake. “Managing Cultural Diversity: Implications for
Organizational Competitiveness”. The Executive 5.3 (1991): 45–56. Web.

Kramsch, Claire J. Language and Culture. Oxford, OX: Oxford UP, 1998. Print.

Nieto, Maria Jesus, and Lluis Santamaria. "The Importance of Diverse Collaborative
Networks for the Novelty of Product Innovation." Technovation 27.6-7 (2007):
367-77. Science Direct. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

Vega, William, and Andres G. Gil. Drug Use and Ethnicity in Early Adolescence. New
York: Plenum, 1998. Print.

Massey
10