PSYC14 Supplementary Readings Notes
Intercultural Personhood: Globalization and a way of being
The development of the global village has brought cultures, nationalities, etc. closer than ever
before. People are being challenged to face each other’s differences and look for human
universals. We now find ourselves facing a deep social upheaval and creative restructuring.
The same forces that diminish physical boundaries are also the same ones that exacerbate
ethnic and national rivalries.
This paper aims to describe the Intercultural Personhood as a way of being a member of an
increasingly multicultural/integrated community. This is a way of relating to oneself and
others on a dynamic and adaptive identity conception.
There has been an ideological shift toward greater pluralism and multiculturalism in the US
and elsewhere that began with the “new ethnicity” movement prompted by the civil rights
movement in the 1960’s in the US.
The pluralistic turn in academic conceptions of cultural identity has capitalized on
contradiction arising from the inevitable gap between assimilation emphasis and the reality of
everyday life in which group categories continue to constrain ethnic minorities.
Cultural identity is an extension of the self. There is a shift towards the perception of self of
an exemplar of a social category and away from the perception of self as a unique person.
An examination of contemporary pluralistic academic writings on the issues of cultural
identity reveals 2 main problems: positivity bias and oversimplification.
There has been little attention given to the fact that a strict adherence to a cultural identity
can raise separatist sentiments, fear, distrust, violence, etc.
Positive values assigned to cultural identity reflects the desire to offer a voice to the
traditionally oppressed people. At the same time, the positivity bias becomes problematic
when it is applied selectively (in the face of human sufferings in non-Western countries).
Some writings portray cultural identity as an “all or none” entity and people are viewed as
only belonging to one particular ethnic group. This conception of cultural identity inflates
uniformity among individuals associated with a particular group category; researchers lump
together all individuals ascribing to a particular group and portray them as a homogeneous
group with identical characteristics.
In reality, cultural identity is very complex: people marry outside of their race/religion/etc.
The present author, Kim, has theorized about the dynamic and evolving nature of identity
orientation that argues each person is an “open system” that exchanges info with the
environment thru communication, and co-evolves with the changing environment. Thus, a
person’s identity is undergoing changes throughout life and Plasticity (the ability to learn and
change thru experiences) is highlighted as the basis upon which individuals acquire an