Cultural identity is the sense of belonging towards a culture. This belonging can be justified with the shared set of companionship, principles or beliefs of living.
Basically, it can be considered as owning the culture and its various boundaries of ethnicity, nationality, language, religion, and gender. And owning the culture means that the person embraces all the traditions that have been passed down through
out history. The cultural identity reveals the person’s heritage, as well as help identify with others who have the same traditions or similar belief structures.
Importance of cultural identity
It is more of a foundation or foreground on which every other boundary is established. Starting at a very young age, we embrace the traditions and norms of our parents and grandparents and hold on to them as we grow older.
We continue to practice them as it becomes a source of identity for us and helps us better understand the people who share these common aspects of culture with us. This not only broadens up our relationships but lead to further advancement of the cultural acts which would have otherwise been abandoned if not for the ownership demonstrated by the culture’s youth.
Ownership of culture directly adds value to cultural identity and it includes practicing of religion, wearing traditional clothes or even eating food that reflects the respective culture. It establishes means of identifying the person as part of that culture or nationality.
Aspects of cultural identity
- Nationality. It is the country that the person is born in, and/or the country that the person currently lives in. It determines cultural identity because the person adopts the culture of that country.
- Ethnicity. It is the culture of the person and is a very crucial aspect of cultural identity as the person usually has the culture of his/her respective ethnicity. It also often helps identify the physical looks of the person.
- Religion. It is the set of moral beliefs and principles related to the existence of God and the world. It contributes to cultural identity by helping in determining the personal and moral characteristics of the person. Religions have throughout time, shaped many cultures.
- Education. Cultural identity has a direct impact on the way children perform in education. This can be described by the following example – Asians are usually quiet in class and consider it inappropriate to make eye contact with the teacher. However, European children value active classroom discussion and maintain eye contact as it reflects their respect and engagement.
*Other aspects include the social class, locality or generation characteristics of the people.