This paper looks deep into identity, state and belonging and their definitions. The paper also explores the different types of identity, different levels of identity as well as legal belonging.
Political science is defined as a discipline that deals with studying a state, and its political activities. It is a branch of social science. It has grown steadily in theory and number of scholars since its inception as an independent branch of the broad field of social science. It gives a deeper insight of political activities, and their influences#. The science is not only learnt by politicians, but by anyone who wishes to make a career out of leadership, and politics.
Keywords: Identity, State and Belonging
Identity, State and Belonging and their Definitions
Identity is the overall aspects used to distinguish an object with similar traits to a given topic. Most of Europe shares a common history especially the people from Western Europe#. However, the culture, Social development, and most historical features in Eastern Europe have a different course from the growth and evolution of Western Europe. The difference between the two states comprises the identity. It is the distinct features that the two parts of Europe have, and that makes them different from other states.
The citizens share common customs, and how they live among themselves and the state. State laws and regulations ensure that the country functions smoothly. Church is also another aspect that helps keep Europe together. The identity in Europe can be explained mainly using three levels that apply to almost every citizen with a European origin. They include, family, lifestyle, and 45 years of communism in the East and consequences it had.
Eastern Europe consists of a social structure called Zadruga, which is a rural social organization comprising of many members of a family, and more members are introduced to the family by marriage. Members of a Zadruga, depending on their sex and age were involved in helping the elderly undertake tasks. Land was viewed as a public property for all people from the same community, this helped unite dozens of related people and enhance harmony. However, this form of living was common in Eastern Europe only, as people from Western Europe preferred small manageable families, which are nuclear families. The family's composition comprised of parents and the children (Gabel & Palmer 1995).
This kind of living that the Western people had created a major determinant of public and citizen relations.# Little emphasis is given on the need to bring together family members, and people owned land only where the family's house was built. This characteristic means that the society of Europe is individualistic. Little emphasis is put on the extended family and the need to bring them together. These aspects distinguish Europe from the rest of the world, and create a sense of collective responsibility and cohesion#. Every family has its practices that make it different from other families, which is its identity.
Most of the traditional people of Balkan Peninsula never had a specific place of residence and were pastoral by nature. They constantly migrated from place to place in search of pastures and favorable climatic conditions#.
The unity of a group depends on the nature and type of family relations and social values instilled in the people. More time of interaction and residence in a similar location results in deeper the sense of relation among members of society. It is after some years that sedentary villages emerged in the Balkans. The area they mostly resided was conquered by Empires that influenced in a big way the cultures and economy of the natives. The Balkans faced a period of rural and urban industrialization after the Second World War. The economic activities they were involved in also played a role in creating an identity for Europe, as most people were either in handcraft or trade.
This also played a major role in maintaining social-economic relations using the set laws and contracts. This society greatly promoted the culture of united living and sharing encouraging neighborhood among citizens. Members of the Balkan community appreciate the need for cooperation among the members of the community. The benefits that this kind of lifestyle accorded their forefathers were taught to the following generations. It was passed for generations after generation, and this also helped maintain the culture of a place#.
Communism in Eastern Countries
Eastern Europe underwent 45 years of communism # which kind of left more positive effects than negative. It played a bigger part in evolution of states in Eastern Europe, than that played by the evolution of economic collaboration happening in Western countries#.
The iron curtain split Europe into two, one side had the countries on the Western side that were already democratic in their governance. The countries also enjoyed a stronger economical base, which helped in building functional European institution. The other division was Eastern Europe, consisting of countries that did not have a strong political or economic base. They were undermined by the U.R.S.S, and acted as satellites for Moscow, which made them lag behind in economic and political activities
Barbara Jelavich however, saw communism from a different angle and saw some loopholes in it. This was against the traditions held by the people of Balkan, and to an extent, undermined the role the church played. The church acted as an identity for the Christians in the states, and the theories of communism depicted it as a tool to enslave the working class people. Communism also undermined the strong relationship between some religious institutions, and ones owned by the state. #The church was for the idea of a competitive society where efforts are rewarded to the individual and the individual allowed independent choice of how to use their income.
Types of Identity
The ancient regionalism is conservative and defends the society that does not embrace modernization. Traditionalists view a region as a place to preserve culture, and the people's way of life, and not only an economic and political ground.
Traditionalist regionalism is viewed as being the strongest among the citizens who were in a position of geographical mobility, those with limited education, and the elderly population. This composition mostly consists of people, who are not actively involved in politics, value and conserve their culture.
Identity in some studies that were done on national identity by McLaren (2006) and Fligstein (2008) stated that the people from European countries who had exclusive national identity had similar traits as the traditional regionalists.
The elder people are more geographically immobile, and are mostly employed in blue-collar jobs and also tend to be less educated. Traditional regionalists lay more emphasis on preservation of culture and the way of life of citizens in the region.
There are also exclusive regionalists who are more hostile to Europeans than exclusive nationalists because their identity is closely related with parochialism#. The parochial practices were identified by resistance from outsiders, because this limits the returns to those who already joined the parochial network. There is an ever-growing similarity and multiplicity of identities in the European Union that is always growing bigger. The exclusive regionalists' preferences are slowly if ever addressed or realized as compared to exclusive nationalists.
They are not against the state structure but they feel no urge to perform duties at the national level. They perceive the state as a protector of national unity, and rely on it to educate people and preserve their culture and way of life.
Modern regionalism mainly highlights issues of modernization and mainly deals with the progress of individuals, and the state as a whole. It undermines some traditional values, and depicts a region as a place for political and social actions to be taken. It is also viewed as a place where people strive towards better economic conditions, democratic representation and equality to all citizens.
In this system, members of a community or region hold the key to their own success. The society seeks to develop and improve the lives and livelihoods of the members of the society.
This regionalism was first practiced in France but has over the years grown massively to other countries in Europe. The spread can be accredited to the ever-increasing role Europe plays in the globalization of its market economy. The multi-level governance used by political leaders in Europe also assisted in the spread of modern regionalism. It now no longer confined to boundaries of certain regions, and has been applied in Europe and international politics#.
The issue of regional integration has played a major role in the acceptance of modern regionalism in Europe, by creating a new regional identity. Modern regionalists are found among the most learned, and educated members of the society. These are people who understand the concept of regional integration and the potential it has to develop the involved societies. They are young in age and have the potential to grow economically, and highly identify with the society.
Inclusive regionalists are the citizens who are more likely to feel attached to Europe, for it satisfies their needs and offers them the lifestyle they wish. They also understand the importance of regional integration, and the opportunities it gives to the state and individuals. It also allows people to have multiple identities at the same time shows that they are more accommodative of European culture, and has a higher probability of creating regional integration. They also have a strong desire to change the political faults in their region, to a system that favors the citizens, and not only the leaders.
Belonging is the tendency of an individual to belong to a given state, either by birth or by legislation. Every individual needs to belong to a state to be able to enjoy its economical and political progress. It gives individuals a sense of security and obligation to be of service to the society they identify with.
Countries also have a belonging to a certain union that limits and gives guidelines on leadership to avoid exploitations of its members. The unions are created by mutual agreement among the members. They are governed by regulations to ensure that the union benefits the involved societies equally#. Such unions have been important in the avoidance and resolving of conflict among member countries.
Most countries in Europe belong to the European Union, which regulates the political and economic activities of the member states. In the earlier days when slave trade was allowed, people were taken from Africa to Europe to work as slaves. As time went by, they started families in different states in Europe, and hence they also became citizens in various countries. In this way, no matter the color or race the descendants of the slaves got a sense of belonging, and legal citizens. The long period of residence in Europe integrated them in the society. They learned the culture, traditions and mannerisms of the people of Europe and are, therefore, members of the European society.
Belonging helps an individual enjoy the services and governance of the government of the country they belong. On a national level, belonging helps countries get assistance on various governance and economical issues from other countries from the same union. It also helps create a larger market for products from the member countries, and also promotes innovation. Having a sense of belonging means that one can enjoy services from the government including: Education and educational facilities, cultural practices, and citizenship rights.
States provide documents of identity to their members. Identity cards, passports, voters' cards, among others are popular identity documents among states. These documents also give the citizens a sense of identity. They are also used to identify the citizens in official institutions.
However, belonging also has its setbacks as its possible to be discriminated on the basis of one's belonging. It can be as a result of belonging to a given race in a country, or a country belonging to a union that is in crisis with other countries. Belonging may result in the sidelining of people perceived not to belong. The out- group in such a case is judged to have fewer rights than the citizens of the state. The citizens are likely to give cold reception to outsiders when they are thought to bring competition to the citizens.
Some countries are excluded from certain benefits from governmental or non-governmental organization, which leads to the citizens missing out on the benefits. Member states of unions have the discretion of assisting or not in cases of emergency and need when the affected state is not a member.
Belonging can also refer to the church, political or social group that one is recognized as a member. Just like belonging to the state, belonging to other social groups has both positive and negative consequences. When people have a strong feeling of belonging to the social group they may discriminate those who do not belong. This is the main cause of racism and racial conflicts. Religious conflicts and gang wars can also be attributed to radical sense of belonging. It is natural for human beings to want to have a sense of belonging, which guides us on the rules and regulations we have to follow. Belonging provides individuals with the opportunity to socialize. It also provides a sense of security owing to the assurance that the group will have their member's backs.
The government of any country or state maintains the right to accept or reject an individual, to belong to it. The granting or denial of citizenship to individuals is the discretion of the state. Necessary authorities screen a candidate who wishes to obtain citizenship, and decide if they are to offer the citizenship or not. Every state has its guidelines on the process of registering an individual as a citizen#. Incase a person is found illegally in a foreign country, legal action is taken on him/her depending on the constitution of the land.
For better allocation and sharing of resources, it is legally required that a person registers with the necessary authorities as belonging to a certain nation. Each government has a department for registration of persons, which deals with registering people belonging to a given country. States approach this by establishing citizen registration departments, ministries and or institutions. These have the responsibility of managing the records of the citizens of the state.
The registration helps the government make strategic plans for development, depending on the population of a country. In some instances, prove of citizenship is required when accessing national resources. A registration of citizens of a given nation helps the government make budgets, and forecasts depending on the size of the population.
This is where one belongs to a certain group or union by socializing with people having a common interest. It is the membership that results from regular informal interaction. This cannot guarantee one to be accepted as a member of a nation, but it is accepted for unions, and social groups#.
The members of such groups identify themselves with the other members of the group due to the perceived aspects that they have in common. It may due to age, profession, area of residence, hobbies, religion, among others. These groups, however, are not as stable as the formal ones. In countries that accept refugees, most of them become citizenship by sociological approach. This approach is not accepted in most countries but a better part of Western Europe seems to accept it. It is rare for people to use this approach to gain citizenship and most people use it only to get accepted in a social group.
This is where the followers of a political party or political candidate assume a similar belonging. The common political stand unites the members such that they feel they belong to the party and owe it their loyalty. This approach is used to create membership of political parties or regions, and very rarely to give citizenship of a country.
This mostly occurs from people who are already citizens of a nation, and hold similar political view. Depending on the party policies and the interest of the persons, people are free to choose which political party they will belong to. Lobbying and campaigning is one way which political parties create popularity. Once people have been convinced of the potential benefits to joining the party the interaction with other members creates the sense of belonging.
For healthy competition in elections, a country needs to have its citizens belonging to different political parties, depending on which one they find most favorable to them. It is every citizen's right to belong to a party of his/her choice, and people in the same party share common ideas and strategies to improve a country politically and economically. Belonging to a political party does not provide a reliable sense of belonging due to the rapidly changing political environment.
Determinants of Legal Belonging
For one to belong to a certain group or country, a set of rules and instructions are given which every member is expected to follow to the latter so as to remain legally as a member. The laws and regulations of the state outline the consequences of breaking the law. The law determines whether someone willing to be a member of a society is qualified. Sometimes race or color is used to determine the legal belonging of an individual.
The constitution of a state also affects if one is to be considered belonging to the society or not. Since it is chosen by the people of a given nation, it is used to guide the citizens on the legal things to do, and those that are against the constitution. Incase a foreigner goes against the constitution of a country; the officials involved have a right to deport the individual. In Europe, immigrants who go against the constitution of the land face the full force of the law. An individual is either deported to the country he/she is registered as a member, or taken into custody to face the charges.
Levels of Identity
Identity is a term used mainly in social sciences to describe someone's conception, and how they express themselves to the society. It is mostly used to in sociology, and social psychology. It may be said to be an idea on an individual's mind of who they are. It allows one to be creative and innovative in a special way, and not trying to live someone else's life. Identity has different levels depending on the situation an individual is in.
Psychological identity involves how people view their image, self-esteem, and their own individuality. There is also an important aspect of psychology which is gender identity, which enables a person to have a deeper view of him/her self in relation to other people. It enables one to get involved only in activities allowed to be undertaken by a member of a certain sex. This identity could be positive of negative depending on the actions of the subject. Balanced personal identity is crucial to the success of the individual. It creates confidence and enables the individual to understand their strengths and weaknesses. It is up to an individual to create a personal psychological identity depending on his goals and focus.
Sociology identity mainly emphasizes on the importance of role-behavior. This may be as a result of learning some social aspects by experience, and learning from the environment. There is also identity negotiation where one negotiates with the society on how they view him/her. People judge and perceive one's identity according to how one interacts with them. Individuals have the opportunity to improve their public identity. This could be through education among other efforts to better one self. This is a crucial identity as it determines how one's interaction with the society around will be. It also enables people to learn from other people's behaviors, and evaluate how they can use it to better themselves. It is sometimes hard for one to evaluate his/her identity until someone else comments about it. However, through self actualization, one can be able to understand his identity, and work on it to be better in life.
This is a term used to imply a number of concepts coming together to describe someone. Generally these concepts apply to a situation where one is perceived accepted in a certain social group, and the impact on their identity. Collective identity can be reduced by separating collective identities and collective consciousness. Incase a collective identity psychological event happens at the level of the individual, people make judgments according to what they see. Situations which require multiple individuals would best be described by collective consciousness. This is where the perception on a certain situation requires the analysis of more than one person.
This can also be used to describe identity created by a group of people or a company. A company is comprised of many workers working together, but it has a single image which has its own identity. People judge groups and companies according to their overall progression, and not that of individual workers. This can also apply in a family, where people judge a family on how they interact with other families without analyzing ach member of the family.
This involves the special characteristics that an individual has, in relation to the community. The individual dictates how he/she wants the society to look and judge an individual. It also helps one realize his traits better, and improve on self actualization, which are important in human development. It also assists in self acceptance of an individual, as one gets to appreciate the situation better. Individual identity is important both In relationship with other people, and relationship with one's self.
It is also sometimes used to evaluate a person before joining a certain company or group of people. It is up to a person to mould his/her own identity, which people will use to analyze and describe them. This individual identity constitutes the overall comprehensive identity of a group of people.
This refers to people sharing similar traits and beliefs, and is the lesser population in a given group of people. In most cases, the minorities are ignored and never given the deserved respect, and consideration#. Incase of conflicts, the minorities suffer the most for lack of support from masses. In most cases, the minorities are marginalized and their rights violated as they do not have a loud voice that can spark interest from the international community.
Minorities can either be in a nation, company, or a group of people. When drafting a constitution to guide either a nation or a group of people, consideration needs to be made of the minority population. Organizations of good will need to educate people on the need to give everyone an equal chance in life. What matters is the expertise and experience of a person and not if he belongs to a minority or majority race.
In recent days, international law gives assurances and protection to the minority groups in any given state. This reduces discrimination and harassment of the minority groups from the recognized ones, which mostly have the power. It is the main reason that most governments in the world are against the apartheid rule#. It divides people according to race or color, and oppresses the minority group. Each group should be given equal rights as other citizens of the nation. The international laws require every nation to take some measures in protecting and uplifting the minorities in the society. Most states have conformed to the laws, and support provisions for minorities.
It is upon a nation to make its own provision for minorities as not even the United Nations has a right to stipulate laws for other nations. However, there are some guidelines accepted by all nations on what should be involved in taking care of the minority. They include:
Great attention should be given to the minorities in an area in all boundaries. All cultural or religious minorities are included. The problems they face should be highlighted so as to know the measures that should be put in place.
The values and culture of the minority population should not be interrupted in the course of taking care of their needs.
The laws that the minority have should be considered in defining the nation's rights towards them.
After the laws are made, the minorities will be allowed to keep their own customs, and culture.
The laws made shall be in accordance to the nation's laws and community's laws also.
There have been several suggestions to the United Nations to draft international laws on minorities, but the process has been extremely slow.
Rights are defined as the legal, social and ethical characteristics that every free individual is entitled to. They are fundamental rules and regulations of what is allowed and expected from the citizens of a given nation. They have to be in accordance with the legal system, ethical, and do not go against the social laws of the land. They are very important in several disciplines that apply in life including Law, and Ethics. It also plays a major role in application of justice in a certain nation. Rights are important in civilization, and are considered as the pillars of culture in a society. Most rights require struggle, and are not easily granted, which makes them very important to citizens of every nation#.
Rights are also divided into natural rights and Legal rights. Natural rights are those that are not made by humans, but derived from the nature and environment. They are universal and apply to all people no matter their race or country of origin. They necessarily guide an individual, and everyone has them naturally. Legal rights on the other hand, are based on the laws and statutes existing in a society. Citizenship to a nation is the fundamental requirement for one to enjoy the rights.
Rights can also further be divided into claim and liberty rights. Claim rights entails that a third party can question the rights of another citizen. A liberty right is the right of a citizen to do something or carry out an action. The individual is not obliged to perform the task and no third party is involved.
They are similar to rights but are assigned on specific individuals, and not all people in a given nation. People are given privileges according to their social status, origin or ethnicity. The privileges mostly are given as a gift or motivation for a certain event. Some of these privileges are automatically issued to an individual incase he earns a certain social status. For example if one gets a senior post in the government, certain privileges over the other nationals comes with the post. However, privileges need to be assigned to people with an equivalence of the post held. Abuse of privileges can lead to legal action from the concerned authorities.
This is preferential treatment given to people with common traits, as compared to others who they share similar rights. This is considered a crime in many nations, and the United Nation has strict rules against discrimination to any citizen#.
Discrimination is mainly done to an individual who has a lower social status than the one carrying out the act. Citizens living in a country share similar rights and discrimination is against the law. Legal action can be taken against someone discriminating an individual unlawfully either at work, or in access of social amenities.
Diaspora and identity
The past and present events of an individual or state define the identity. Diaspora is a group of people who migrated from their homelands, and who share common experiences. If people are from the same origin and have moved to a similar location, they tend to have similar identities.
This includes acquiring citizenship for a foreign nation other than your nation of birth. It involves a legal process, depending on a nations' constitution. Everyone has a right to nationality, and no one should be deprived of it. One can change nationality to a state or nation he/she wishes, as long as the laws of the land are followed#.
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