American Me essay

American Me essay - 04/26/2011 Derek Hull Dr. Kristen...

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04/26/2011 Derek Hull Dr. Kristen Williams AMS 205 Sec. H American Me How do you identify yourself? How does that identity help you to fit into American society? To answer those questions the first thing that must be done is define what is meant by identity. There are two types of identities that are most common, a personal identity and a social identity. Personal identity can be described as, “conventionally arbitrates taste and lifestyle” (Carla Kaplan, Keywords, p.123). This is saying that a personal identity is something the individual chooses. Social identity can be described by, “the meaning of relational and mutable identifications” (Kaplan, Keywords, p.124). This is saying that a social identity is not chosen by a person but instead placed on them from the outside. It is the meshing of these two definitions that leads to the creation of an individual. When looking at this issue of identity, the identity that will be discussed is that of dis/ability. It is important to understand what is meant by the term dis/ability. A disability can be defined as, “the unorthodox made flesh, refusing to be normalized, neutralized, or homogenized” (Rosemarie G. Thomson, p.24). This means that a disability is anything that does not conform to the norm of society. It is different, something that causes someone to stick out in society. It is also something that deals with a person’s skin or body. Some common examples of disabilities are: blind, lame, deaf, missing a limb, behavior disorders, and mental handicaps. These are all disorders
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of the body that leads to the individual that has them sticking out and not being able to fully conform to society. My identity is derived from the lack of physical disability that I have. I can look around at those that have a physical disability and realize that I have the ability to do so much. It is also an identity that I really only realize when I am faced with the contrast. My ability is so normal to me, I only notice and appreciate it when I see others around me that do not have the same ability as me. This identity, if you identify as disabled and not as able, only has the ability to harm an individual’s full participation in the nation-state. The biggest hindrance to them fully participating culturally is the idea of stigma theory. This is defined as, “In essence, stigmatization is an interactive social process in which particular human traits are deemed not only different, but deviant. It is a form of social comparison apparently found in all societies…” (Thomson, p.31). This is what creates the funny looks that the disabled receive. The “normal” people, or those without the disability, see the disability as dangerous to society. The “normal” people see those with the disability as inferior and as
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This note was uploaded on 09/22/2011 for the course AMS 205 taught by Professor Guidiana during the Spring '09 term at Miami University.

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American Me essay - 04/26/2011 Derek Hull Dr. Kristen...

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