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.

1 comment:

Matt Archer said...

Wow! Superb assessment Highlander! You went well beyond the expectations both in terms of your analytical depth and the quality and detailed descriptions of your examples.

You've demonstrated ADVANCED mastery of the Perspective and Experience learning unit!

Be well.