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Garrett Bennicas

Soc. 1
Identities and How they are Formed
From this section of the course, Sociology 1, I have learned about diffe
rent philosophies and ideas about how identities are formed. The philosophies th
at make the most sense to me are the ideas of John Locke, Jean-Jacues Rousseau,
Charles Harton Cooley and George Herburt Mead. Also the ideas focused on in my e
xercise have as well helped me to form an idea where identities come from and wh
at they mean socially.
John Locke had the idea that people in a society truly want to live toge
ther in harmony and that people are not aggressive by nature. That people are bo
rn with a "blank slate" and that anything can be learned. I completely agree wit
h this statement. How people are brought up and what they are exposed to defines
their identity and intentions in society. I was brought up by loving parents th
at among others things taught me to be true to my feelings and to express them t
ruthfully. Jean-Jacues Rousseau's theory about corruption relates to the "clean
slate" idea. He stated that corruption come from society. So if one is not influ
enced positively they may end up corrupt and be a hindrance on society. If a ch
ild grows up in a "dysfunctional family" they may be at a disadvantage to a chil
d like my brother who is getting the same social education from my parents and t
he society we live in.
Charles Harton Cooley also touched on the idea of identities. He believe
d that identities are formed from interactions with people in society. This woul
d mean that the more interactions one has the more choices that have to form the
re own identity. In a sense my upbringing and my brother's can be dangerous in a
way because our parents have to be careful not to shelter us too much form part
s of society. Otherwise we create one sided identities and opinions of ourselves
and others. I feel that that is what college is all about. To be exposed to oth
ers and their ideas to help yourself and people around you to form ideas. In a w
ay social interactions are a learning process and a part of higher learning.
George Herburt Mead said that all group life is from social interaction.
That humans can work together well for social reasons. But I believe this to be
true only if people have been exposed to enough interactions, only then are we
able to come together for common ideas and the good of society. Furthermore he s
aid that we have the capacity to figure out the intentions of people, but again
only after we have substantial exposure to society. Mead stated that we must use
the same meanings for gestures and find a common understanding. This is the fou
ndation of language and the process in which we learn how to communicate with ot
Finally, my identity exercise not only help me to figure out my own iden
tity but how I am perceived by others. Like Cooley said, we see ourselves in oth
er people's eyes and we ponder the judgments being made about us. I feel that th
e only way to get around people judging others is to continue to interact in soc
iety. I think that I have made significant progress in coming to the point of "e
nlightenment", able to figure out people and their intentions. Only then will I
be able to work for the common good of the society I live in because I will have
to knowledge to do so. To become educated and to help society I feel that colle
ge is an excellent way of learning how to do this. College is more than just goi
ng to class and trying to get the grade, but it is there as a tool to help us op
en our minds. I feel once we all can "open our minds" to become "enlightened" th
en we are ready to work for the common good of our societies and the people in t