Cultural identity, like culture itself, is a social construct. The values, beliefs, norms, expressive symbols, practices, and artifacts we hold develop from the social relationships we experience throughout our lives. Not only does cultural identity make us aware of who we are, but it also defines what we stand for in comparison to others. Cultural identity is relational between individuals, groups, and society meaning through culture people are able to form social connections or refrain from them. It is real to each of us with real social consequences.
As defined in Module 1, we learn culture through the process of enculturation. Socializing agents including family, peers, school, work, and the media transmit traditions, customs, language, tools, and common experiences and knowledge. The passage of culture from one generation to the next ensures sustainability of that culture by instilling specific traits and characteristics of a group or society that become part of each group member’s identity.