Social Factors that Influence Identity Development

SocialFactors that Influence Identity Development

SocialFactors that Influence Identity Development

Socialfactors have a positive and negative influence of the identitydevelopment process of human beings, especially during childhood.Evidence of the factors causing identity development is shown by theanalysis of chapter one of AlwaysRunning.The book is authored by Luis Rodriguez. In the book, Rodriguezexplains the challenges he and his family members experienced asMexican immigrants in the United States. Identity development is theway an individual views him or herself. It also indicates theperspective in which other members of the society view theindividual. The identity of human beings, especially in the earlystages of life, is influenced by social processes that involverelationships with other members of the society. Rodriquez developshis identity through three main social experiences. These areparenting, peer pressure, and discrimination.

Influenceof Parenting on Identity Formation

Thetype of parenting that a child receives directly influences his orher identity formation processes. Rodriquez was brought up by Mexicanparents who were immigrants in the United States. This familybackground made him understand that he is of Mexican descent. Theparents were professionals in Mexico. The father was a schoolprincipal, while the mother was a school secretary. However, theywere unable to find employment in the United States (Rodriguez,2005). Therefore, the household experienced financial challenges andlived in low-income neighborhoods. Rodriquez thus knew that he was aMexican immigrant from a low-income household. The parents could notprovide stability for the family because they changed residencesseveral times. More attention was on finding stable income source,and less attention was on taking care of the children. The minimalparental attention influenced Rodriquez to join neighborhood gang andengage in illegal activities.

PeerPressure Effect on the Identity Formation Process

Rodriquezwas alienated during childhood because he came from a low-incomeimmigrant household. Other people alienated him because of hisMexican ethnic background. He could not speak English in schoolhowever, he was fluent in Spanish because it is his first language.The alienation in the mainstream society influenced him to seekbelonging and recognition in the gang environment. He was protectedby the gangs that he joined for example, “The Animal Tribe”(Rodriguez, 2005). He preferred the gang culture because hisdecisions were taken into consideration.

Influenceof Social Discrimination on Identity Development

Discriminationhas the negative effects of reducing the level of self-esteem andself-worth of the affected persons. People who are discriminatedrefrain from actively participating in social events for example,sports, discussions, and festivals. Discriminated individuals feelunwanted in the community. Rodriquez was discriminated because of hisMexican origin. He was told that the United States is not hiscountry. During childhood, he felt that he was not wanted in theUnited States. The elementary school environment was very challengingbecause he only understood the Spanish language (Rodriguez, 2005).His education performance reduces because he could not sufficientlyunderstand the learning instructions stated in the English language.

Howthe Social Experiences Affect Adolescence and Adulthood

Parenting,discrimination, and peer pressure have an impact during theadolescence and adulthood stage of human development. Discriminationduring childhood influences human beings to seek identity and respectin the gang culture during adolescence and adulthood. Gang membersrespect and protect each other. Gangs engage in illegal activities soas to get valuables for example, robbing a supermarket for cash.Peer pressure can result in long lasting effects. Peer pressureduring childhood can cause drug addiction that can last a lifetime.Parenting methods affect the identity and behavior of human beingsduring adolescence and adulthood. Children from unstable andlow-income households are likely to engage in illegal activitiesduring adulthood for example, join gangs and abuse drugs.


Luis,Rodriguez. (2005). AlwaysRunning: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.New York: Touchstone.