Culture Influence on personal Identity


Culture or the way of life is attributed to the personality of an individual and makes them who they really are. Self awareness emphasizes the significance of an individual to exist and is attributed to social views and practices. It defines individual characteristics and contributes to the diversity of people in the world and this makes life interesting.

Culture and personal identity relate closely and are dependent on each other. Construction of identities is within individual in relation to a particular historical background and organization. This paper shall explore the personality trait explained above and explain the contribution that culture has made.

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How and Why Culture Influence Identity

The vibrant Indonesian culture is ethnic and is also being influenced by countries such as China and India which neighbor it. Cultural identity is marked by the influence from the family, regional, and religious aspects. For instance, am a mixture of Chinese and Indonesian, born in Indonesia and have lived there my entire life. My family background is relatively humble although my parents provide for my basic needs.

However, Luxuries are not always present when needed. With hard work, the family is better than before since the parents have worked extra hard to make ends meet. Nevertheless, the initial financial constrains that my family experienced contributed to my personality.

I have come to be known as a girl of low profile since my cultural background has dictated so. I have learnt to save money and use it on important things only. In addition, I’ve learnt to share with others and not to become self-engrossed, an image that I always portray not only to my parents and friends but also to the society at large.

This has made me and the whole family relate well with others.

Chinese – Indonesians’ Culture in relation to Personal Identity

Chinese- Indonesians are an ethnic minority whose culture is heterogeneous. They have been categorized into totok and peranakan. Since peranakan have their birthplace as Indonesia, they are identified with the ethnic regions of Indonesia and they disregard their Chinese origin. In contrast, the totok has a lesser Indonesian orientation instead, are more of Chinese since them or their parents have been born in china (Aimee 77). Another distinction is in the commercial activities undertaken by the groups.

Totok group are geared on achieving business success and accumulate wealth. Thus, this is reflected in their self-reliance, investment approach, and prowess which are aspects that have greatly influenced my identity. As a totok I practice a significant cultural value known as the guanxi. It is a concept which points out that for one to succeed, he or she should relate with people who matter and one must harmonize with the environment instead of altering it.

“For instance, through his personal and financial connections with government officials, particularly Suharto, whom he befriended long before he became Indonesia’s president, Liem Sioe Liong amassed a multibillion dollar importer that encompassed the manufacturing of cement and steel, automobile distribution …” (Aimee 78). The example emphasizes the aggressiveness of the totok which in turn has taught me to avoid being self-centered but instead count on others in every activity I undertake in life. On the other hand, the peranakan base their engagements on merit hence are not very successful in the Indonesian commercialism.

Therefore, being a totok means that the culture has dictated my hardworking nature and most significantly, my networking and social nature. This has in turn affected my personality of being considerate of others and avoiding being self-centered.

Personal Example

Religious aspects, social environment, and distinct originality have had a strong effect on my identity.

Being a Chinese- Indonesian I have learnt proper use of money and resources in order to become successful in life contribute to my identity of being low profile. The family is a very important institution based on the cultural values if Chinese-Indonesians. Family ties are maintained and preserved by practice of norms such as marriage which ensures solidarity among members (Aimee 74). It is the role of the parents to teach their children proper manners in life and this has been properly implemented by both of my parents in a strict way which has enabled me to follow the rules and regulations set in various areas quite easily. The family union is relevant to set a good example to the children and ensure happiness in marriage.

Marriage is one cultural value that is highly regarded by Chinese-Indonesians. Indonesian culture is very categorical on religious morals which are elements that are reflected in the entire society and more specifically by my trait of putting others ahead of me and sharing my resources with them. I believe that Sex before marriage is a vice that is forbidden by my culture which helps maintain an environment where children can grow well, become educated, and attain a high degree of moral standards. Being a Muslim country it is also under the influence of other religions such as Buddhism as well as Hinduism which may as well have played a part on my personal identity. Its cultural, richness is depicted in the country’s art and theatre work such as dances and music.


The economic background, family relations and ethnic distinctions have contributed significantly to the personality trait of being a low profile person who is considerate of others. Moreover, belonging to a Chinese-Indonesian ethnicity means that I have interacted with several cultures. A multicultural interaction may have similar or contradicting effects on personal identity which is reflected in my personality making it hard to evaluate specifically whether I am of totok or peranakan origin.

Nevertheless the role played by my immediate family has guided me as I interact with the social environment around me. The culture has enabled me be identified in the society as a low profile woman. This does not only help to deliberately avoid undue prominence but also to exercise personal freedom and acceptance.

Work Cited

Aimee, Dawis. The Chinese of Indonesia and their Search For Identity: The Relationship Between Collective Memory and the Media. New York: Cambria Press. 2009. Print.


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