12 March 2008

Perspective and Experience Outcome # 4 (Advanced Mastery Endevour)

Define and explain ethnocentrism

Identify an example of ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism is belief of group of people as if a way of their residing, value, and samples of adaptation, surpass that of other groups. Very often this belief is together with the generalized contempt for members of other groups. The ethnocentrism can be shown in relations of the superiority or sometimes animosities. Violence, discrimination, the reference in belief, and oral aggression - other means by means of what the ethnocentrism can be expressed.

Ethnocentrism leads us to make false assumptions about cultural differences. We are ethnocentric when we use our cultural norms to make generalizations about other peoples' cultures and customs. Such generalizations - often made without a conscious awareness that we've used our culture as a universal yardstick -can be way off base and cause us to misjudge other peoples.

Everyone is partially ethnocentric, and there is no way not to be ethnocentric . Often we have a binary conflict view of life - this is right or wrong. Ethnocentrism leads us to make premature judgments. "They" may not be very good at what we are best at. By evaluating "them" by what we are best at, we miss the many other aspects of life that they often handle more competently than we do. The question is why are we ethnocentric? The definition given above emphasizes that we make false assumptions based on our own limited experience

Some very simple examples of ethnocentric thinking :

We often talk about Japanese or Australian drivers driving "on the wrong side" of the road. Why not just say "opposite side" or even "left hand side"?

When store owners or mall cops follow a person of a certain color around, because they think that person might steal something.

Religion would be an area where there are always ethnocentrism beliefs. Most believe that their belief system (religion) is the best.

Define and explain culture shock

Identify an example of culture shock

The cultural shock - emotional reactions to a disorientation which occurs when the person is immersed in unfamiliar culture and is deprived daily vital reference points familiar to him and habitual and concepts. This subjective distortion of the validity happens with all of us in various degrees when we are affected by unexpected behavior in various culture. The problem consists that each culture develops an own set of cultural concepts, and concentrates on the limited number of "probable conclusions". When one set of the agreements studied in a context is not joined to the new validity, the cultural shock is natural result.

We can consider a cultural shock as a natural stage of process acculturation(enculturation) in the new cultural environment.

Process Acculturation has 5 stages. ( Figure 1)

(I wish to note that in the process description acculturation and stages of a cultural shock, whenever possible, objectively displayed the feeling and experiences after arrival to the USA. At a stage of the cultural shock I have stopped in more details)

The stage 1 Period of a honeymoon, all seems to brighter, the meal is better also more tasty. The reasons for departure are abroad confirmed. It seems to us that all perfectly on a new place. We concentrate that we expected (distortion), instead of on that actually occurs around.

But , it is inevitable comes to the most drama stage :

Stage 2 Cultural shock

The STAGES of Cultural shock

A. Isolation
B. Separation

A. Denigration
B. Superiority
C. Reversal

As we starts to get acquainted more deeply with new culture ;suddenly, we find, that nevertheless things do not become as predictably, and we start to test emotional discomfort which conducts to the physiological negative reactions (insomnia, nervousness, sweating, unwillingness to eat, asthenia)

All it bears in itself negative signs and I think that in basis of this is the ethnocentrism and the important role plays language barrier.

We gradually feel accruing unwillingness to perceive new cultural realities, traditions. It is a stage is called DENIAL. We feel that to all of us begins it is not pleasant: food, people, houses even the nature. We feel itself torn off from habitual the daily affairs, cultural events, friends. Different language sounds around , another music is audible. All starts to fade and we try to isolate ourselves from an external world (stage Isolation and Separation) and we search for rescue in dialogue with people from our culture, we look TV, video films on the native language. Besides we as though try to protect ourselves (stage DEFENCE) Defence is the natural reaction to perceived threat. Other cultures, at this level of development are seen as different, and the difference is threatening to our established map of the world. It is accompanied common reaction to culture shock as "denigration", negative stereotyping, with undesirable characteristics being attributed to every member of a distinct group. On purpose to protect itself we try even to extol itself (Superiority), certainly it is erroneous, thinking that we in all is better than associates. All it leads finally us to thought on return back home, or there whence we have arrived to the country (Reversal).

But, nevertheless in due course this feeling passes also we gradually we pass in the following stage of adaptation. We start to adapt and superficially to understand an event at behavior level, and we even start to develop some new strategy. It is movement to ethnorelativism.

Stage 3 Initial adjustment

Behavioural distinctions it is equivalent to a stage, and visible cultural differences are acknowledged and accommodated. At this level, allowance is also made for different language styles, and "when in Rome do as the Romans do."

• Stage 4 Depression.However, adaptation is still based on a number of values and beliefs from our original culture. After time, and the further influence by other culture, real depression can begin because of the conflict between own internal beliefs going by culture and visible behavior of those in other culture.

Last Stage 5 - Acceptance & Integration

In this stage of development there is a change in our understanding us directly and our position in the world. The most important - realization, that our set of values is not natural, and not in the world centre, but in the centre of our map of the world. Secondly, there is a realization which values are not established, but there is a sensation that we are estimated and we have the importance in a new society. All of us have values, but all cultures estimate some things more than others, and differently.

To reach Stage 5, people should accept at first the fact, that values behind appreciable behaviors make sense only within cultural structures. Then there can be a movement to relativism. It happens through not understanding modelling or through conscious understanding and the instruction of a cultural shock process.

Figure 1 Adapted from Levine and Adelman (1993: 41)

Discuss both of your examples in terms of what they reveal about the power of culture to shape our perspectives and experiences

Culture shapes our perspectives and experiences, certainly it concerns not only as we interpret things in other cultures, but it is more essential that thus we actually experience.

The culture really influences a way which we perceive things. More often we do not notice as longly it происхлдит as we remain concentrated on those things which are extended in our culture and we are focused on them with people who part our own culture. Thus, if culture

shape our prospects then all of us within the same culture should have in similar prospects. Really to test the power which the culture has

To test the power which the culture has over us , we can address to cross-section cultural comparisons. For example, essential differences in that what humor are appreciable to Englishmen and Frenchmen or Italians and Russian perceive. What Swedes think of a civil marriage (when the pair does not get married in church) and how it is much negative to Italians (they zealous Catholics) concern.

It may be obvious that a variety of social forces, such as history and language, influence
the stereotypes, prejudices, and biases between people. In the same way as we all have
personal identities, that identify at home and at work, we also have social identities. Our
social identities bind us to groups of others. For example, I am a Ukrainian , a physical therapist, a father - all examples of social identities.
We often use these identities to create social connections. An example of this is a Ukrainian driving along a highway in USA and stopping as he sees a car by the road with a Ukrainian flag on its bumper. In one context I may introduce myself as a doctor , in another my fatherhood may be more relevant, in yet another: my nationality. We try to identify what it is that we have in common with the person we are communicating with.

In the context of cross-cultural communication, social identities are adaptable. People
who meet across cultures do so usually because of work or travel. This means that outside th
context of work they deal with each other in terms of other social identities. Sometimes we
are faced with a situation where our preferred identity is not even recognizable to the person
we are communicating with. Our stereotypes of other cultures can be so strong that we remain oblivious of behavior contrary to them. In one TV programme , for example, I’ve seen story about German technical expert. He held so hard to the stereotype he had of Russians as bad time keepers, that he himself regularly turned up late for meetings, frustrating the Russian colleagues who would be there on time!

Clarifying values and rules is a good principle for cross-cultural communication. Its prerequisite is that each on of us is able to articulate what our expectations are,
what those expectations are based on, and be willing to negotiate.
The old wisdom of “Do in Rome as the Romans do” goes only so far. It is not possible for us to adopt completely new cultural values or practices, or to function according to cultural parameters based on institutions we are unfamiliar with. But it is possible for us to reflect on the differences in dialogue with those we are working and living with. Cross-cultural communication can be a positive experience of exchange for all parties in the process.

Explain the potential problems embedded in ethnocentrism and culture shock

Ethnocentrism distorts communication between human beings, and brings us to do false assumptions of cultural distinctions. We are ethnocentric, when we use the cultural norms to make generalizations about cultures of other people and customs. Such generalizations - often made without conscious understanding, that we used the culture as universal criterion - can be by from a basis and brings us to underestimate other people. The ethnocentrism also deforms communications between people. Often we have a binary conflict view of life - this is right or wrong. Ethnocentrism leads us to make premature judgments.

Condition of a cultural shock for the person to experience is hardly enough. I have tested it twice in my life and last time here in the USA. But nevertheless degree of display of a cultural shock depends on age, knowledge of language, culture and customs of the new country. In other words it depends on plasticity of mentality of the person and its knowledge. Anyway, we cannot consider a cultural shock as only bad thing. It is a part of enculturation process and eventually after a cultural shock there follows adaptation of the person to new cultural realities.

Evaluate the notion of cultural relativism as a possible solution to the
problems of ethnocentrism and culture shock
Discuss how cultural relativism pertains to the examples you identified above.

Cultural relativism: the view that ethical and social standards reflect the cultural context from which they are derived.

Cultural Relativism is a philosophy that believes that when it comes to matters of right and wrong, and other values of a moral nature, that there are no absolutes, or any fixed truth, but rather that all is relative. “Good” and “bad” are merely assigned and psycho-emotively attached to beliefs and actions by the culture in which one lives. Good is simply what is socially approved of in that culture by the majority over time and is therefore a matter of social convention. What constitutes something being considered bad, or even evil, is therefore also culturally relative. Therefore no belief or action is inherently good or bad, rather it is either acceptable or taboo within that given culture, and thus we should all therefore learn to be “tolerant”, suspending personal judgment, because the real issue isn’t goodness or badness per se, but simply a matter of difference.

Cultural relativists uphold that cultures differ fundamentally from one another, and so do the moral frameworks that structure relations within different societies. In international relations, cultural relativists determine whether an action is 'right' or 'wrong' by evaluating it according to the ethical standards of the society within which the action occurs. There is a debate in the field on whether value judgments can be made across cultures.

Whether we can consider relativism as a possible solution of a problem ethnocentrism and culture shock? Certainly yes, besides as it has been shown by me above in explanation a cultural shock, relativism there is a natural phase of "recover" from a cultural shock (which as it has been specified has roots in ethnocentrism). As we have seen (Fig #1) that cultural relativism pertains to the examples identified above .In this case , relativism is not as abstract scientific theory; instead, it has practical application and value. It is obvious, that relativism in a final analysis gives the chance to the person to adapt completely (acculturation- enculturation ) to the new cultural realities , and to realize itself and to become the full member of a society.

02 March 2008

Ethnography Outcome #3

Define ethnography

Ethnography – a practical applied primary fieldwork methodology within cultural anthropology gathering of data about community or the culture, filtered through practical experience of the researcher ,and , mostly represents qualitative methodology of research. Data gather by immersing of the researcher in the cultural environment. Ethnography - that you do at first to receive the information and it can be described as a representation. All received information could be estimate in cultural analysis.

Explain the important aspects of the ethnographic method

As we know, Anthropology , first of all, is empirical endeavor. The empiricism* principle is crucial aspect from philosophical assumptions, and it underlies anthropological methodology. The empirical approach means that things about which anthropologists can speak, using human feelings, and it is a basis of the realistic approach . Which essence consists that is real, the validity and that it is accessible to us through our direct supervision and interactions.
Ethnography - qualitative methodology of research and primary method within cultural anthropology. The ethnography has many aspects to it, but participating supervision is mostly often used. To make ethnography means to be involved on that you study, testing it directly on yourself, becoming a part of community of people thus sometimes even suffer on yourself of their difficulty and experience. There are two categories of research methodology: qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative methods concentrate on cases which can be counted and presented in numerical expression. Qualitative methods concentrate on qualities and features of objects or events which cannot be grasped or presented in the numeric form.
Obviously, that Anthropology takes more all interests in the results of qualitative methodological researches, but quite often quantitative methods also can give the important helpful information, as we see it from Claire Sterk's article “Prostitution in the Era of Aids”. At reading of this article we pay special attention on types of data which are represented by the ethnographer as they connect each other, and how they have been collected. We can notice easily also, how skillfully author uses these two types (qualitative and quantitative) thus does not oppose them each other . Anthropologist successfully uses both methods more likely as means to think, what data can be effectively collected in the given situation and as the various collected data can support full ethnographic endeavor.

*empiricism philosophy the doctrine that all knowledge of matters of fact derives from experience and that the mind is not furnished with a set of concepts in advance of experience.

Identify specific ethnographic techniques

In ethnographic research are used interview, conversations, reviews, supervision, personal participation, video a tape-recording, and many other methods for acquisition and information registration. There are many kinds ethnographic interviews, but they make three main categories: Formal, semiformal and informal. In ethnography are used methods of residing in community to participate and observe in their direct cultural environment thus testing for itself many unforeseen challenges. Ethnographers write the detailed plans that they will study but when they reach to object of researches for gathering information ,and often all depends on skill to communicate and ability to make trustful relations. It is considered that the ethnography has one big lack –display of investigated cultural events subjectively. That is, ethnographers pass the collected information through the filter of his outlook. But the subjective nature of understanding of cultural events through own experience it is faster one of ethnography strengths. After all staying long time in other cultural environment the ethnographer always is exposed powerful enculturation and accuracy of research can suffer from it finally. Obviously , that reasonable ethnographic subjective outlook is necessary for the researcher , after all , it gives much enough clearness in confused situations. Though, it is necessary to note that excessive subjective estimation is also detriment to the real information and is dangerous.
The ethnography - methodology of field researches which can be described as the presented details of culture in a genre of the academic letter. Ethnography product is called an ethnography and also can be described as detail of particular culture.
The bias, ethnocentrism and reflective character are in a basis of any ethnographic research. Ethnographers tend to reflect cultural event in written details in representation. Thus, the good ethnographer allows to understand clearly the promptings, interests, and predispositions, which it or it can bring in a situation of research and which can influence events and as they are presented. In other words, knowing it is more about the one who does representation, helps us to understand better, what aspects of research can be result of a bias of the researcher and its own cultural background. Modern ethnographers try to allow objects of the researches to speak with the reader through the medium of the ethnographer and ethnography. It more often it is reached by use dialogue and direct quotes which play a key role in the description and an explanation of investigated culture.

Identify a subject or cultural event which can be studied
Gather data using ethnographic techniques.
Use ethnographic data to write a description of the cultural event
you identified (representation)

(I’ve united all three answers - in one)

In time ethnographic studies it was offered to us to use in practice methodology of ethnographic researches directly on territory of college campus. At first sight it seemed to me it is a little strange and unusual and I could not imagine at once what cultural events can occur in the following of 30 minutes round us. But, after all our life is extremely various and practically all can be object of anthropological research. After some meditations our group has decided to visit cafeteria where at this time; as usually, there were many people. Students, teachers and simple visitors sat at the cafe and not only ate, drank coffee and drinks but also did the homework , read books and held conversation with friends. And suddenly I have heard scraps of phrases of conversation Russian -speaking group of people which have strongly interested me.
These people emotionally enough discussed event of one car accident and that the insurance company has unfairly given up in insurance payments to one of them.
More recently my car has been damaged on a parking lot near shop. Representatives insurance companies have carelessly done investigation and malefactor have not been found out. Result was the same - to me has been given up in payments. After that case I still had impression that the insurance companies are created only for pumping out of money.
I have asked of the permission participate in conversation on purpose to carry out short ethnographic research. The goal was to know - how people from former USSR relate to the American insurance companies, and, was more exact in this connection, what new it has been introduced in their culture. In the form of informal conversation, I have remembered about the unsuccessful experience of relations with the insurance company that has caused genuine interest of participants of conversation. As it has appeared from five persons were sitting behind a table two were participants of car accident and not only cars have been damaged, but as well suffered their health. At third participant the car has been damaged at night on a parking nearby apartment. That was amazing - any of them has not received insurance payments, and after all they have been insured in different (enough famous) insurance companies.
What is essence of the given cultural event?
What people from the former Soviet Union knew about obligatory insurance of cars? Anything, because in these countries was not obligatory insurance of cars., and anybody from them, never insured cars before arrival to the USA. I have asked them a question
“What did you expect before arrival to the USA from car insurance?”
The man 54 years old from Armenia has answered shortly -
Security and fairness”. The woman from Ukraine 35 years old who has seriously suffered after car accident has answered - “Earlier , I hoped that the insurance should compensate a health damage that the injured person should pay medical accounts” Young man from Belarus at which at night near apartment someone damaged the bumper of his car and has been into smithereens broken ,have sadly told - “I did not expect that car insurance all covers, but that the person having expensive enough insurance at all will not receive anything-for me it there was a shock
We know that every time when we do ethnographic field researches, and collect the information we should distinguish among three­ fundamental aspects of human experience: what people know what people do, and which ­ things people do and use .We speak about them as cultural knowledge,­ cultural behavior, and cultural artefacts. Thus, cultural analysis works from supervision and research of different kind behavior and artefacts to receive cultural knowledge.
In performed ethnographic research we have collected the information in the form of informal conversation and we have learnt that all these people have gone through transformation of the beliefs (have gone through enculturation). It is necessary to recollect that they had lived in the countries with totalitarian model and there the simple person felt itself not protected from an arbitrariness of the authorities. They went to live in the free country of free people and they pin their faith on the USA as the country of justice and law. Vehicle Insurance for them was seemed that absolute guarantee of lawful fair indemnification in case of car accident. That were their
cultural knowledge (hopes, belief).
What has occurred to them after unsuccessful experience with the insurance companies?
It was in certain degree of enculturation process.
As a result of all these unfair events these people have gone through full disappointment in system of insurance of cars in the USA. Though , as each of them dealt with the different insurance companies , but nobody has received even cent of insurance payments. But most of all I was shocked with those that all these people after unsuccessful litigations with the insurance companies were disappointed in insurance cars system in the USA and partially in judicial system of the USA that finally has led to their NEW BELIEF (Cultural knowledge) – that in the USA the insurance companies do not protect their clients and more likely deceive them and the suffered person not always can protect his legitimate rights in court.

More likely, these people are not right also I hope that their conclusions will change in due course on more positive. Certainly, not all so badly with the law in the USA.
But ,on this example we have tracked , as it is possible to work ethnography , and what important things it is possible to learn having carried out even short field ethnography researches.