This essay would examine the life of Daniel, my friend from Kazakhstan. Specifically, the focus would be on the analysis of Daniel’s life and relationships using several theoretical frameworks. These frameworks are Social Identity Theory, Social Cognitive Theory, Holland’s Theory of Vocational Choice and Adjustment, Psychology of Working Theory, Chaos Theory, and Self-Determination Theory. Consequently, it is possible to argue that Daniel needs to reconsider his relationship with his parents, and has high chances to achieve decent work; his behavior is shaped by observation of local, American and Japanese culture. He also considers himself as part of the progressive Kazakh generation and has an affinity towards artistic job specializations.
Life of Daniel
Daniel is a man born in the city called Ekibastuz, inside a post-USSR, Central-Asian country – Kazakhstan. He was raised in a family of four with both parents (mother and father) and a sister. From an early age, he demonstrated quite unique and original ways of thinking. Due to the lack of toys and the high busyness of his parents, Daniel grew up with his neighbor-friends playing games using sticks and imagination. When Daniel was five years old, a couple of breaking points in his life happened; he broke his arm in the cold winter for the first time. The incident happened because the kindergarten teacher gave each kid a single ski instead of a pair.
Daniel was trying to slide on it akin to a snowboard, but he fell and broke his arm. Another breaking point, according to Daniel, was the incident that introduced to him the painful reality of the harshness of the local culture. Kazakhstan is a multireligious country, but the majority of believers remain Muslim. As a result, Daniel had to undergo circumcision due to the authority of his parents and local customs.
Daniel went to school at six years of age which is a year younger in comparison to common practice and was not comfortable attending it. The reason for that is the bilingual environment of his household. Kazakhstan has two state languages – Kazakh and Russian, both of his parents are proficient in Russian, but only his father has a good knowledge of the Kazakh language. The Kazakh language was used explicitly for cultural events and minor dialogues, even in kindergarten. However, the school where Daniel was supposed to study taught their students solely in the Kazakh language. As he had little proficiency and exposure to it, Daniel struggled for the first years at school. Consequently, until Daniel became 12 years, several additional events happened which contributed to his perception of the world.
Firstly, from the age of 7 to 9, he was attending acrobatics training; from the age of 10 to 12, he was doing freestyle wrestling, all due to his parents’ suggestion, to which he was not eager to comply. Daniel demonstrated a high affinity with math, easily solving every problem and sometimes doing two exams instead of one because teachers did not want to let him go too early, which might have demotivated other students. Daniel had little interest in romantic relationships, but looking back on his past, he said that he was probably too shy and young to approach girls. In 2006, Daniel visited Alanya, the city in Turkey, where he experienced life in a 4-star hotel and learned how to swim. In 2009, Daniel visited China and Russia for the summer and broadened his horizons about the world. Finally, when he was 12 years old, he transferred to the private school in Pavlodar, 80 miles away from his hometown, where he started to learn to be independent while living in a dormitory.
The new school was called Kazakh-Turkish High School for boys, where the education was primarily in English and included the learning of Turkish. However, until 2014 English was the subject with which he struggled a lot, and later, he started to improve his skills by watching famous YouTube creators such as PewDiePie. Later, Daniel started to read comic books and Japanese light novels in English. His academic performance was good as his grades consisted of A and Bs. In the same year, he volunteered to work at his uncle’s construction firm as a builder for a month. In 2016, Daniel wanted to pass the IELTS exam and started to prepare for it by talking to native English speakers online; that’s how we became acquainted. He received a score of 7.0, which demonstrated his proficiency at the Upper-Intermediate level. As a result, Daniel decided to study at Nazarbayev University (NU) after graduation to pursue a career in Economics in English.
He was admitted to the Foundation program (the equivalent of the 12th year at US school) at NU. However, he was not pleased with his social life having poor romantic relationships due to the restrictive nature of his high school and low exposure to female students. Most of his relationships crumbled in a month, and he was not confident in his appearance. The situation continued at NU until his sophomore year when he finally met his current girlfriend. Although their relationship had numerous instances of misunderstandings and hardships, he was very happy with that person. In addition, his girlfriend was a first-year student who contributed to the formation of his current social circle around first-year students. Nevertheless, he had some friends from the same year of study.
His academic life was also not as pleasing due to the sudden change of major, which happened due to his family’s pressure. As a result, he decided to major in Computer Science, from which he later transferred to the Department of World Languages, Literature and Linguistics. In the department of computer science, he struggled to maintain high grades and demonstrated poor academic performance due to an unsatisfactory social life. However, when he transferred in a sophomore year, his grades improved from Cs to Bs and As. In addition, Daniel started to work as an English teacher at an online school and gave private lessons to high school students.
Currently, Daniel is 21, and he decided to acquire experience in writing as he discovered the joy of fiction writing in his junior year. He works as a writing freelancer online and receives a medium (in his country’s margins) salary.
The interests of Daniel involve creative writing, extreme sports, and songwriting. Daniel has taken the course of Creative Writing and wrote numerous short stories in English and Russian languages. Daniel also has a wide range of poetry and songs. He learned to play guitar when he got admitted to NU and ever since kept practicing and writing songs. He is a fan of extreme sports such as skydiving, snowboarding, and parkour. He loves hiking and every summer climbs mountains with his friends.
Social Identity Theory
Social Identity Theory (SIT) analyses intergroup and group behavior using a minimal group paradigm. According to the minimal group paradigm, people may favor those that belong to the same “purely cognitive” groups to which they belong (Trepte & Loy, 2017). This categorization could be seen at two moments of Daniel’s life. The first moment is when he was uncomfortable in the environment of the elementary school where he did not belong due to the language barrier. The second moment could be inferred from his current social circle, where the majority of his friends were from a younger course. It could be explained by the age difference with his peers as Daniel went to school at the age of six, while his classmates were a year older than him.
According to SIT, several cognitive processes are involved in the formation of social identity. These cognitive processes of social identity consist of categorization, identification, and comparison (Trepte & Loy, 2017). The social identification in the case of Daniel would be his sense of belonging to that particular group as they represent those who are of the same age and driven by similar values, which allowed them to attend the same university. The comparison which he utilizes involves the distinction between the progressive younger generation and conservative traditionalist others. This comparison could have stemmed from the high pressure from the culture and parenting which Daniel experienced in his life.
Daniel was born in 2000 and had some unpleasant encounters with local customs and pressures; hence his connection with those of the same age and experiences led him to this categorization of social identity. Daniels admires the American culture of independence and equality of rights. He said that he considers himself progressive because he sees the unjust oppression of homosexuality and homophobia among locals, the alienation of citizens from the political institutes, and the stagnation of society. At the same time, many locals continue to be normal about this situation which he wants to change. Consequently, it could be said that his social identity is progressive, innovative, and young student; hence he favors those that belong to this particular group.
Social Cognitive Theory
Social Cognitive Theory introduced by Bandura tries to provide an explanation for human behavior in a wide range of contexts. For example, the process of learning, development of self-efficacy, the unconscious performance of routine behaviors, “use forethought to set goals, anticipate expected outcomes and associated affective states,” create an environment that will help to reach personal goals, and engage in the behavior which will be moral (Guerrero & Martin, 2020, p. 280-281). SCT could be broken down into observational learning, reciprocal determinism, behavioral capability, reinforcements, expectations, and self-efficacy (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020).
Observational learning suggests that people while witnessing and overlooking the behavior of others, could reproduce similar actions in the future (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020). In the case of Daniel, his behavior is influenced by American and Japanese cultures. He observed various types of content, from vlogs to novels and comics, which shaped his current behavior by providing a role model with respect to politics, rights, and recognition. As a result, he respects the rights and beliefs of others and tries to empathize with them. Daniels does not diminish the rights of his parents to support certain beliefs and respects their suggestions enough to consider them despite its pressuring nature.
Daniel has high behavior capability in terms of substance abstinence and disregard. Behavioral capability refers to the individuals’ ability to perform a behavior by utilizing acquired knowledge and skills (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020). For example, Daniel negatively views any form of substance abuse, most likely due to the fact that he has been engaged in a healthy lifestyle and sports from an early age. Several of his friends often offer him to try alcoholic beverages by inducing peer pressure and suggesting a “fun time.” However, he successfully rejects each instance because he is aware of health issues implied by alcohol and drugs, along with other possible consequences.
Numerous reinforcements influence the behavior of Daniel, but in terms of the parents-son relationship, parents act as reinforcement to his independent behavior. Reinforcements are factors that facilitate the fortification of a certain behavior or its complete rejection (Connolly, 2017). In the case of Daniel, his parents’ views on life and suggestions act as reinforcement of his current independence from parenting. Daniel’s personal experience evolved to the point where he often approaches his parents’ suggestions with skepticism as he considers them as susceptible to negative trends such as fake media news and distrust in the government.
Daniel’s self-efficacy with regards to the confrontation of parents seems to be below. Self-efficacy refers to the individual’s confidence or belief in performing certain behavior (Li, 2020). It seems that Daniel’s self-efficacy to directly confront his parents and establish clear boundaries is low. Although, he tries not to address certain issues with his parents’ susceptibility to negative trends and allows them to influence his life decisions quite often. Consequently, it would be recommended for him to increase this capacity in order to achieve a better quality of life as his parents demonstrate strong influence in affecting his life decisions.
The Holland Codes
According to Holland’s theory, Daniel’s choice of engaging in freelance writing activity is interconnected with his artistic personality. Holland’s theory implies the existence of six types of personalities as “Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional (RIASEC)” (Zainudin et al., 2020, p. 1). An artistic personality is described as one preferring to working with people and ideas and demonstrating such personal characteristics as impulsiveness, originality, independence, expressionism, and creativeness (Nauta, 2020). This suits the profile of Daniel as he is fond of creative writing and led him to choose his current occupation as a writing freelancer. According to his testament, the working environment suits him as he is not constrained by time and easily integrates working with studying at NU.
However, he is doubtful about such a career choice as he initially preferred to pursue an economics career and still considers achieving a bachelor’s degree in the respective field. It could possibly be interconnected with his other traits as Holland’s RIASEC model represents more of a spectrum rather than division of personalities into distinctive frames. He has an affinity towards an investigative career path, which he demonstrates through his interest in economics and perfect grades in mathematics. In addition, he is quite sociable as he often interacts with people of different cultural backgrounds (this trait most likely developed from his traveling at an early age) and has experience working as a teacher. Thus, it could be easily predicted that he might find pleasure while working in associated fields.
Daniel’s life is not suitable for development, most likely because he does not meet all basic needs in terms of self-determination theory. Self-determination identifies three basic needs that are required for “human motivation, psychological development, and wellness” (Dunn & Zimmer, 2020, p. 296). These needs are autonomy, competence, and relatedness, each one describing a relationship between environmental and internal factors. Competence refers to the requirement of having mastery or a sense of expertise while interacting with a person’s environment or work (Adams et al., 2017). Considering Daniel’s mastery over his ability to write and confidence in his skills, this aspect seems to be satisfied. Relatedness is connected with the sense of connectedness or belonging to a particular group (Dunn & Zimmer, 2020). It refers to the nourishment and support among belonging individuals. In the review of Daniel’s social identity, it is evident that he has a sense of belonging to a particular group, easily interacts with it, and maintains a good friendship.
Therefore, it is evident that two of the three basic needs are satisfied, but the need for autonomy is not. Autonomy refers to the need for self-regulation; that is to say, a person needs to be the instigator of his own experiences and actions (Dunn & Zimmer, 2020). In this aspect, the influence of Daniel’s parents prevents him from reaching the desired outcome for instigating the important life choices of Daniel. As a result, to improve his effective functioning, mental health, and overall well-being, Daniel needs to achieve autonomy in his decisions.
Psychology of Working Theory
The chances of Daniel achieving decent work are quite high in accordance with the Psychology of Working Theory. This theory tries to analyze the factor which may predict the achievement of decent work and its outcomes. Decent work, in this case, refers to several factors about the working environment. For example, interpersonally and physically safe working environment, working hours that are acceptable and allow free time and adequate rest, corporate values which promote family and social values, decent compensation, and healthcare. The predictors of decent work are economic constraints and marginalization, while other variables include work volition, career adaptability. There are also moderate variables such as “proactive personality, social support, critical consciousness, and economic climate.” Immediately, economic constraints could be disregarded as possible obstacles towards decent work as Daniel does not have any financial problems, and his family could facilitate occasional travels to foreign countries. Marginalization is also inapplicable as he is part of the Kazakh nationality which constitutes the majority of the local population, and male, which diminishes his chances of discrimination based on sex.
In consideration of work volition and career adaptability, Daniel demonstrates positive outcomes. He would probably receive an undergraduate diploma and has several creative abilities, which will open various career paths for him to pursue. Simultaneously, in terms of career adaptability, he has various work experiences ranging from a construction worker to his current occupation as a writer. He easily adapts to new working conditions and has not encountered any difficulties in demonstrating maximum performance. On the other hand, in consideration of moderate variables, the problem with economic climate is evident. The recent outbreak of pandemic diminished the economic power of numerous countries, including Kazakhstan. Therefore, until the market is stabilized, it is possible that his choice might be limited if he would want to switch to financial professions.
The life of Daniel could also be analyzed through chaos theory, according to which every moment and action in his life led to his current predicament. In physics, Chaos theory implies that an initial set of events and circumstances could develop into drastically different outcomes (Ercetin & Potas, 2019). In this case, it is possible to see that his parents’ plan for cultural nourishment led to his disregard of local culture. Similarly, a small step towards learning the English language evolved into the current proficiency and ability to study at an institution and engage in creative writing in English. Daniel’s birth date and environment also led to his affiliation with his current social circle. According to the Chaos Theory, these seemingly small details of Daniel’s life made it possible for him to become the man he is now.
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