The Lay Man 's World

Decent Essays

In the lay man’s world, there are some universally held beliefs that permeate almost every level of society: Africa is poor and its residents desperate for help, the Middle East is unstable and many of its regional actors are religious fanatics, and so on. However, to say that these are universally held beliefs does not necessarily mean that they are true. These beliefs are sometimes grounded upon a certain understanding of culture and identity of those being portrayed. Some of these portrayals are not based on fact, but merely representations created through discourse to advance state and actor interests in regions of activity. This paper seeks to identity the role identity and culture play in international relations (IR) and world …show more content…

This definition highlights the essence of what identity is, from its conception to its practice, and is a solid foundation on which to begin an analysis. As part of this paper’s inquiry, insight will be drawn into the inner workings and uses of culture, and so it is necessary to provide a clear definition for the term as well. William H. Sewell Jr. does not constraint culture to a specific kind of practice or an action that takes place within a specific social setting, but defines it as a dialectic of system and practice, as a dimension of social life autonomous from other such dimensions both in its logic and in its spatial configuration, and as a system of symbols possessing a real but thin coherence that is continually put at risk in practice and therefore subject to transformation” (47). Such a definition fits well within the contexts and boundaries that this paper seeks to explore. Having understood what identity and culture mean, it is now much easier to navigate their significance in global politics and IR. I argue that there are two main drivers of these nodal points in the contexts of this paper. The first is at the individual level, where people utilize identity and culture to locate other individuals of similar or identical nature, almost as a kind of social radar as described by Hale when discussing ethnicity (2004). In reality, Hale’s argument fits well within this one due to ethnicity arguably being a subdivision of identity. This conception

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