by Kirill Sakharov

Thoughts about becoming somebody in this life.

Society features many different roles that some people identify with while others may misidentify with the same roles and behaviors. The reason for making one choice or the other varies and does not fall solely on the personal preference of a person but is instead dependent on many social factors. The status, conspicuousness, duration and hierarchy all play a role on whether a specific person identifies or is identified with that role. Overall, identification with a role is a very socially dependent factor while on the surface it may seem like a purely personal decision.

A good example of roles being identified and misidentified with may be present in two cases that I know. The first example is that I usually identify myself as a college student. Ever since early September I have savored the role of college student and identify myself as such at every opportunity. During conversation with parents, when issues of personal sovereignty arise, I do not hesitate to identify myself as a college student. I also do not hold back in calling myself a college student around my younger high school friends and acquaintances. In both cases, the factor of college being of a higher status than high school plays a big role when identifying myself that way. Also a social factor that may play a role in my willingness to identify myself as a college student is the fact that the next step is adulthood. When, for example, a proposed work destination comes up in a conversation between me and my parents that they do not like, it is useful to bring up the fact that I�m a college student. The point would be to make them stop treating me as a high school student and to make them realize that I will be an adult in four years. The fact that I will be a college student for that long also increases willingness to identify since it is a pretty permanent position for the time being. However, some people do not always identify with roles that they have.

An example of a someone misidentifying with a role is Herald, the father of one of my friends. He is a family man who invests a great amount of time into making sure that his kids go to soccer practices, judo workouts, complete their homework, and get high SAT scores. He is a highly addicted smoker. He cannot let a day go by without smoking a pack of cigarettes. Thus, he never admits that he is a smoker around people and most of his kids did not know the fact until they are in high school. He always preachers the wrongness of smoking and he never smokes in front of his family or friends. There are several social reasons for why he misidentifies as a smoker. Social norms usually place smokers as a lower status. Smoking is always promoted socially as a bad thing. Thus, it would make perfect sense for Herald to misidentify with being a smoker due to a smoker�s perceived lower status. The other factors are that Harold does not want his kids to take up the habit of smoking so he never identifies himself as such. Smoking is also not very conspicuous, that is you cannot tell if someone is a smoker or not by first glance (unless they are smoking). Harold also may misidentify with smoking since the role is not permanent and not being a smoker is a very viable option. Neither is smoking a high step in some sort of hierarchy. Harold has very little reason to identify himself as a smoker, especially in his conservative social circle.

Initially submitted at Nov. 01, 2005; 10:07

Nov. 18, 2017; 16:45 EST

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