How do you think a person's context shapes how he perceives the concept of belonging?How do you think a person's context shapes how he perceives the concept of belonging?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In terms of belonging, the context in which one sees him- or herself has an enormous impact on every member of society. defines the social environment, which directly influences the individual.

The social environment of an individual, also called social context or milieu, is the culture that s/he was educated and/or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom the person interacts.

By way of this definition, a person's context in life is a result of his or her experiences. This includes the experiences of the individual in terms of family, close friends, institutions (school, etc.), employment, and society at large.

If someone grows up in a positive environment or context, he/she is more likely to feel optimistic about being a part of the world. This person will most likely pursue college or career training. He will want to spend time with others, not happy to be reclusive or shut away from interactions with society. This person's context, sociologically speaking, is upbeat. This person will  most likely have a well-developed sense of belonging to family and/or friends. This sense of belonging will provide the individual with a favorable sense of self, allowing him to function in a productive way within his personal circle within society.

If someone has found it difficult to feel that he/she is an integral part of his/her family, this person may struggle with experiencing a sense of belonging. He may feel as if he has little to offer others in terms of relationships, either platonic or romantic. He may not be sure of what kind of career path he plans to pursue if no one has taken an interest in providing at least a dialogue about the choices available to someone entering the work place. If he has felt it difficult to connect with others socially, the sense of belonging may not exist. This may be a significant sign of a disconnect between the individual and those around him.

Belonging depends a great deal on the positive connections people are able to make with others. The context, circumstances defining a person's life, will dictate the ease and/or ability (or absence thereof), of an individual to feel connected to others, providing him with an ability to feel "at home" within society as a whole.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

W. Somerset Maugham wrote,

It is very difficult to know people.  For, men and women are not only themselves, they are also the region in which they are born, the city apartment or the fam in which they learned to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives' tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poets they read, and the God they believed in.  You can know them only if you are them.

This statement of Mr. Maugham summarily illustrates how context shapes a person.  It is profoundly true that the region in which a person has grown and lived has a lasting affect upon him/her.  Perspectives are formed when one can see for miles and miles or when one is walled in by mountains, when one hears words said and feelings expressed in a certain way, a way that differs from the ways of others.  Once removed from this "context," a person feels alienation to some degree or another.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Society often leads us to expect certain things.  For example, we might see close relationships among family and friends on TV and think that all relationships are effortless.  Just because it looks like things are perfect in others' lives does not mean it's so.  This is part of the "grass is greenner on the other side" illusion.  Everyone wants to belong, and wants to fit in, and we think that if we can do what everyone else is doing or what they are doing on TV, we will belong.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think that home life and all of that is the only meaning for context.  I would think that you would also have to look at how the person sees themselves.  Do they think of themselves positively or negatively?  Do they feel smart?  Do they feel attractive?

All of these will impact the way they think about belonging.  The more negatively they see themselves, the more difficult it will be for them to think that they belong.