In what way do social inequalities affect the formation of individual selves?

In what way do social inequalities affect the formation of individual selves?

Individuals are brought up by society, and all that we proclaim to have is nurtured by the significant others. Thus, people are born without self-consciousness but their interaction with family members, the community help in developing one’s self-awareness. Nonetheless, the development of the self is affected by social, economic and political factors. For example, the changes of culture from traditional practises to globalization processes has exposed the self in many ways (Cellero, 2003). Today there is increasing practise of individualization of social activities from school to the work stations. There is a motive to that emphasis on individual out rather than group achievement. However, the achievement of the self is subject to the immediate social location. Therefore, the diversion to what is known to an individual assume as alienation and leads to social inequality. Because an individual knows his or her, expectation social inequalities hinders the actulization of self.

I confirm to growing up in a community of blacks and white American. The issue of races is not explicitly recognized as it was in the later years. Nonetheless, there is not much integration between white American families to those of the black community. Moreover, I could see that the children of black families did not afford the kind of life we were living. For instance, even though we went to the same school I realized that our college for the black family did not go for a holiday when we were not in school. Moreover, most of their family did not have a car and came to school using the school bus. As a result of this, many of the black students did not integrate well with another student, and some performed poorly in class as well as in sports.

In his work The Souls of Black Folk W. E. B. Du Bois explain the problem of color-line in the society. He argues that the issue of race characterized the society problems of the 20th century. He posed his argument that people tend to rediscover through the eyes of others (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). To him, the concept of ‘double-consciousness’ affect individual self-development, and thus the issue of race leads to social inequalities. Du Bois in his analysis of the problem of race argues that the lack of equal opportunities between different races had a negative effect on the progression of the African American (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). Du Bois also raised the issue of how education was offered. To him, Africans American learnt how to get employed whereas their white’s counterparts were taught on how to create wealth (Du Bois, 1944). Thus, the social inequality in the formal education hindered the development of the self among African American children.

In the first part of her work, The Second Sex Simone de Beauvoir discusses the discrimination and oppression that women go through as a result of negative society culture and norms. She narrates of the death of her friend ‘Zaza’ as a result of a planned marriage that she declined to go through (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). Moreover, De Beauvoir developed delinquency at the age of fourteen when she denounced Christianity to become an atheist (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). To her, she did not see the value of the religion. She also argues that women were looked down upon because men took over all dominant roles in society. Though it is not known whether his defiance to his culture was prompted by the subordinate role of women sociologist presume that this affected the development of the self.

De Beauvoir built two premises in her work on The Second Sex.  First, she argues that man behaves and considers himself as an important being to women. Second, she concludes that a woman psychological self is a creation of men and is usually socially constructed (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). To her, a woman is not born but become one (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). Therefore, all of what De Beauvoir is explaining is that women are a creation of society, and they are not a true reflection of themselves. The social inequality that put men on a superior position in society hinders women to actualize their self.

Edward Said define Orientalism as a distortion of other people culture with self-serving construed ideas. He explains the elaborate picture of how ‘the West’ views ‘the East’ in the wake of colonization. Said does not stop there but goes on to define the negative attitude that people have toward the cultures of Middle East.  He argues that most of the pictures created by the artist in the 19th and 20th century are a negative portrayal of the Arab culture (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). There is no one superior culture because people are brought up in dynamic backgrounds. Thus, the false dichotomy created of the Far East was to work for the Western colonizers. They required brainwashing the indignant communities so that they could accept American and European goods instead of locally made merchandises. Thus, according to Said Orientalism is a negative social labeling used against people from the East. This is the case even of today when most Arabs are depicted as terrorist hindering their full development while growing up in the country. For example, a recent case of an Arab student who was arrested for developing a watch attests to this view of Orientalism. The student as forced to changes his school as a result of this social bias toward him (Hern, 2015).

George Herbert Mead theory of The Self is based on the premise that people are the reflection of the society they are brought up in (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). Mead explains that the self is a social developing and not a biological precondition carried from parent to their children (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). Mead says that all the behaviors of individuals arise as a result of his or her social interaction, activities, and experiences. Therefore, basing the argument of social inequality with Mead argument, it is true to say that social disparity hinders the development of the selves.

Mead argues that the self is developed through three activities including language, game, and play. He suggests that language plays an important role in allowing an individual to copy the action of others and allowing them to reply through gestures (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). Moreover, Mead says that it during play that people take on other people’s roles and pretend to act like them to achieve the expectations of significant others (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). According to Mead, the function of play is important to the realization of self-consciousness and the development of the self. Thus, social inequalities function to deter the realization of the self and lead to the development of delinquency among teenagers and deviant among adults. Mead also provided the importance of the game in the development of the self. He said that an individual is required to understand the roles of other so that he or she can move on together. This is what he refers to as internalizing the rules of the game (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). Thus, according to Mead, social inequalities deter people from understanding their counterpart leading to isolation and loneliness.

Further, Erving Goffman also contributes much in his dramaturgical model to explain the importance of social interaction to the development of the selves. Goffman likened social action and interaction to a theater where individuals in their everyday life are actors and playing each different role. Goffman called this s phenomena dramaturgy model of social life (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). Thus, Guffman argues that it is interactions that make an individual who they are and nothing else. Therefore, when people are allowed to interact freely without interference, they become a better person who observes rules, norms and laws governing a community. As such, people are supposed to associate freely without social, racial or economic barriers. Nonetheless, erection of social barriers breeds to social inequalities that necessitate debarment of selves’ actualization.

Georg Simmel on his work The Stranger discusses the significant of a stranger in society (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013). He argues that given that a stranger does not know much about his new environment too much is required for him or her to integrate into the community. Thus, social interaction is important to ensure that individuals get along with a stranger. Simmel metaphor of the stranger is constructed to explain about social distances such as gender, class, ethnicity as well as race (Longhofer and Winchester, 2013).  To him believed that an individual might be close meaning belong to a certain class or race or might be too far signifying he or she understand little of his present social setting.  Therefore, people require the actions of other to understand cultures and required behavior in different social settings. However, if social interaction is hindered by social barriers such as class difference and racial profiling may contribute to a stranger remaining a stranger forever.

Social inequalities are any actions that negatively affect the social life of an individual. Therefore, any experiences of negative social interaction deny people the essential lesson of becoming a better person who can realize their dreams. Thus, in my school black children suffered a culture shock and were intimated by the social welfare of white students. There were a racial problem and white student interacted with a white student while the black student did the same. So the two groups of student never understood each other. For instance, because the African American students were intimidated they never performed well in almost every sport. As a result, they failed to actualize their talent due to social inequalities.

There is evident to suggest that most African American student drops out of high school to engage in illegal business. One of the causes of this phenomenon is their status in society. Because the majority of them are poor, their parents are unable to pay their school fees and thus encouraging school drop put. Another theory that can explain this phenomenon is Meads theory on The Self. Lack of proper enculturation among African American makes them fail to realize the important of education. Thus, lack of interaction and racial profiling in the neighborhood plays victim to the African American and student of Asian ethnicity who lack the opportunity to learn to get along with other.




Callero, P. L. (2003). The sociology of the self. Annual Reviews, 26, 115-133.

Du Bois, W. E. B. (1944). Prospect of a world without race conflict. American Journal of Sociology, 49(5), 450-481.

Hern, A. (2015).Texas schoolboy handcuffed for bringing homemade clock to school. Retrieved from

Longhofer, W., and Winchester, D. (2013). Social theory re-wired: New connections to classical and contemporary perspectives (Contemporary Sociological Perspectives). New York: Routledge.

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