Rites of passage are found in all societies in all periods but they are time and cultural relative. In most of African cultures, initiation is the most common rite while in the Jews community, wedding or marriage is the ideal. Like the American rite of passage, where one gets a driver’s license, the Jews and African rites compare. In all three cases, one becomes an adult who is supposed to be responsible and accountable of their deeds. All the three rites helps one understand their new role in the society. They learn how to behave and treat others differently from how they used to before the rite.
Whereas, the American has no physical change, Jews and African has a physical change, which is marriage and circumcision respectively. They all have cognitive and a socio-emotional change that takes place at the adolescent age as the society declares one an adult and has his/ her social and cultural responsibilities to undertake. This explains why each declared adult acts according to their promotion and behaves in a different way than before.
Social rituals, mostly initiation, to adulthood convey an individual from one social status or role to another. Through the conveyance, self and societal perception of the individual is changed. This is the transition from old to new identity of oneself. The initiate is prepared, separated then undergoes the transition phase where they are transformed into a new identity.
In the transition phase, the individual is transformed into adulthood within the trajectories of success, that is, responsibility, financial independence, healthy relationships or difficulties, that is, crime, unemployment, irresponsibility. The society however tries to bring the best out of an individual.
For adolescents, developing one’s identity is a critical psychological task. The identity of an adolescent is formed by reconciling the identities imposed by the society and family with ones needs to come up with an identity that brings a feeling of satisfaction and industry. If the adolescent belongs to a minority group, social creativity helps them redefine their identity (Cote, 1996). They will not allow society to define it for them but tries to develop their own positive identity. The adolescent becomes an adult with a unique identity.
In a journal written by Aljunied, data was collected from American students. The method used was quantitative research (descriptive design). It was found that minority status make it hard for adolescents to define themselves to identify with the minority group. As such a greater confusion is created and adolescents find themselves coming up with identities that are different from those that the society wanted them to have.
JE Cote in his journal conducted an exploratory research on the effect of minority status on identity development and found out that minority groups have a negative feeling towards the identity proposed by the society. Minorities develop accepts their status and develop identities that suit their interests. However, many minorities contempt their status during adolescence and develop independent identities far from the societies expectation.
Recommendations of what the community, society and school can do to ease the process of identity.
- Society should assist individuals who find themselves in confusion while trying to define themselves.
- Adolescents should be allowed to freely determine their identities without any interference.
- Children should be taught early in life on identity so that when they become adolescents they will easily be able to identify themselves (Cote, 1996).
Hewlett, B. L. (2013). Adolescent identity: Evolutionary, cultural and developmental perspectives. New York, NY [etc.: Routledge.
Markstrom/West Virginia University, C. A. (2003). JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON ADOLESCENCE,. Adolescent Identity Formation and Ritesof Passage: The Navajo Kinaalda´Ceremony for Girls, 13(4), 399–425. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/3011605/Adolescent_Identity_Formation_and_Rites_of_Passage_The_Navajo_Kinaalda_Ceremony_for_Girls
Cote J. (1996). Sociological perspectives on identity formation: The culture-identity link and identity capital. Journal of Adolescence.
Aljunied, S. M. (2010). Ethnic Resurgence, Minority Communities, and State Policies in a Network Society: The Dynamics of Malay Identity Formation in Postcolonial Singapore. Identities-global Studies in Culture and Power. doi:10.1080/10702891003734920