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Examining Cultural Domains

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1 Examining Cultural Domains
Do you remember the old Sesame Street game/song “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other?” You know, they showed you several items and you had to select the one that was different by the time they finished singing the song. I only bring it up to ask this question: What does it take to pick out the one different person or thing in a group? Well obviously, you’d focus on what sets the one apart from the others, but I’d submit that in doing so you would also look at what the other people or objects have in common. In other words, you would look at differences and similarities. When it comes right down to it, the degree to which we possess cross-cultural competence (3C) is really all about how each of us view and navigate cultural similarities and differences. So, as we finish up the 3C portion of our curriculum, it only makes sense that we spend some time examining methods that can be used to harmonize these two seemingly opposing concepts. Examining Cultural Domains 1

2 Overview The Intercultural Development Continuum
Ethnocentric and Transitional Stages Case Studies Cultural Domains: A Framework for Recognizing Cultural Similarities Back to the Intercultural Development Continuum Culturally Relative Stages Developing Culture-General knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) To do this, we’ll discuss separately the intercultural development continuum—which looks at both cultural differences and similarities—and at the cultural domains, which helps us better understand universal human characteristics. Along the way, we’ll also spend some time looking at various scenarios to reinforce our understanding of these concepts. Then, after these separate examinations, we’ll draw from both of them simultaneously as we discover ways to develop our 3C knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

3 The Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC)
Denial Polarization Defense/Reversal Minimization Acceptance Adaptation Ethnocentric Mindset Transitional Mindset Cultural Relativistic Mindset INSTRUCTOR NOTE: Part of the discussion of the IDC involves examining what it takes to help people move from one stage to the next on the continuum. To help facilitate student learning, you should encourage them to use the following methodology: Identify the stage the individual is currently in, then 2) identify the next stage on the continuum, and finally 3) determine an appropriate method to help them advance to the next stage on the continuum. One way we can think of the development of intercultural sensitivity is by placing it along a continuum from ethnocentrism to cultural relativism. Individuals with an ethnocentric mindset experience their own culture as central to reality, where a hierarchy exists on which we can rank all cultures, thus some being perceived as better than others are. Individuals with a cultural relativistic mindset experience their own culture as relative to all other cultures, where no one culture is perceived as better than the next. The Ethnocentric and Transitional Stages Q: What is the Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC)? A tool to display the development level of an individual or group as it relates to intercultural sensitivity. Something that gives us an idea of how well we may expect to perform in cross-cultural situations. Q: Why is important for you to have an understanding of the IDC? Because having an understanding of the various stages can help me better evaluate my own individual development level. Because having an understanding of the various stages can help me understand the actions of my peers and subordinates.

4 Denial of Difference Little to no recognition of complex cultural differences Disinterested in or avoid cultural differences altogether Tend to be narrow-minded and inward-looking as it relates to cultural differences Q: What is the basic stage of IDC? Denial of Difference (denial for short) Q: How are cultural differences/similarities viewed by people in the denial stage? Little to no recognition of complex cultural differences. They tend to be disinterested in or avoid cultural differences altogether. They tend to be narrow-minded and inward-looking as it relates to cultural differences. Q: Why is the denial stage on the ethnocentric end of the continuum? Because denying or avoiding cultural differences means that the person is completely focused on experiencing life based exclusively on their own cultural framework. Because denying the existence of cultural differences leads the person to think that their culture is the only true culture. Q: What are some comments people in the denial stage might make? “We don’t need to know about cultural differences.” “Live and let live, that’s what I say.” “All big cities are the same—lots of buildings, too many cars, McDonalds, etc…” “What I really need to know about is arts and music.” “As long as we all speak the same language, there’s no problem.” etc… Q: How can someone move beyond the denial stage? Recognize that with globalization, people will inevitably face cultures different from their own. Be willing to reconcile their own desire for cultural stability with the inevitability of outside cultural influences. Simple “sorting” exercises that require people to place various objects into categories based on size, shape, use, physical properties, etc.

5 Polarization Defense Uncritical view of own cultural values and practices; overly critical view of cultural values and practices of others Tend to see cultural differences as obstacles to overcome Tend to have a sense of superiority that can lead to overconfidence Q: Why is the next stage referred to as polarization? Because it is a judgmental orientation that views cultural differences in terms of “us” and “them.” Because it has two manifestations that are polar opposites: defense and reversal. Q: How does someone in defense view their own and other cultures? My culture is good; yours is bad. My culture is better than yours. Uncritical of their own cultural values and practices and overly critical of the cultural values and practices of others. Tend to see cultural differences as obstacles to overcome. Tend to have a sense of superiority that can lead to overconfidence. Q: What might cause someone to be in the defense stage? Little experience interacting with other cultures. A bad experience when interacting with someone from another culture. An unrealistic sense of patriotism, e.g., “when compared to other countries, everything about my country is better!” FUQ: What are some comments people in defense might make? “I wish these people would just talk the way we do.” “Even though I’m speaking their language, they’re still rude to me.” “When you go to other places, it sure makes you realize how much better our country is.” “These people don’t value human life the way we do!” “Boy, we could teach these people a lot of stuff!” “What a sexist society!”

6 Polarization Reversal
Overly critical view of own cultural values and practices; uncritical view of other cultural values and practices Tend to think that they are the “good guys” Q: How is reversal different from defense? People in reversal have transposed their point of view. The “other” culture is seen as good and the “home” culture is seen as bad. Overly critical of own cultural values and practices; uncritical of other cultural values and practices. Q: What are some comments people in reversal might make? “These people are so urban and sophisticated, not like the superficial people back home.” “I’m embarrassed by my compatriots, so I spend all my time with the host country nationals.” “I wish I could give up my own cultural background and really be one of these people.” Q: What might cause someone to exemplify the mindset of the reversal stage? A desire to escape some or all aspects of the home culture. A feeling of not belonging in the home culture. A desire to be seen as more of a “native” in the host culture. Q: How can someone move beyond the polarization stage? Focus on cultural similarities instead of differences. Not look at cultures from a “rack and stack” point of view. Accept that different is not always good or bad, but just different.

7 Minimization Highlight common practices and universal values while masking cultural differences Assume commonalities without fully recognizing cultural differences when present May accurately recognize cultural commonalities and differences but may not fully deal with the differences May overestimate own competence in dealing with cultural differences Q: Why is minimization characterized as a transitional mindset? It’s on the cusp between ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. It is where people transform their mindsets to look at cultural similarities instead of differences. Q: Why is beginning to focus on cultural similarities instead of differences such an important mindset transformation? It helps break down resistance to other cultures. It forms the foundation necessary to deal with cultural differences in a more productive way. It can serve as a starting point for better cultural interaction by causing people to see they have certain things in common.

8 Case Studies 1

9 Female Genital Modification (FGM)
FGM is generally defined as the practice of modifying the genitals of adolescent girls to remove parts of the clitoris and/or labia, although the definition covers many other practices such as constricting the vaginal opening through some type of stitching. Reasons cited for conducting FGM range from maintaining cleanliness, limiting female sexual pleasure (and thus limiting sexual activity outside marriage), controlling female virginity, raising or maintaining social status, and symbolically separating men and women through a rite of passage (where men also undergo genital modification, such as circumcision). In most cultures where FGM is practiced, older women (mothers, aunts, grandmothers) perform the modification on younger women, and it is often embraced by the women themselves. Due to international attention to FGM by human rights groups, the practice is receding in some cultures where it has been traditionally practiced, but it has become more deeply entrenched in other cultures as a symbol of traditional values. Q: What do you think about this topic? Q: Does anyone disagree? Wrap-up Questions Q: What were your opinions based on? My personal likes/dislikes My values My cultural viewpoint Q: What trends or agreement did you notice among the flight members? Why do you think there was this agreement? People with similar values tended to agree. People with similar likes/dislikes were more likely to agree. There were agreements along cultural lines. Q: When thinking about the IDC, what comments were made during our discussion that might indicate someone is in denial, defense/reversal, or minimization?

10 Socialism Socialism is an economic system in which the production and distribution of goods are controlled substantially by the government rather than by private enterprise, and in which cooperation rather than competition guides economic activity. There are many varieties of socialism. Some socialists tolerate economic individualism (capitalism), as long as the government maintains the dominant influence over the economy, but others insist on an abolition of private enterprise. Q: What do you think about this topic? Q: Does anyone disagree? Wrap-up Questions Q: What were your opinions based on? My personal likes/dislikes My values My cultural viewpoint Q: What trends or agreement did you notice among the flight members? Why do you think there was this agreement? People with similar values tended to agree. People with similar likes/dislikes were more likely to agree. There were agreements along cultural lines. Q: When thinking about the IDC, what comments were made during our discussion that might indicate someone is in denial, defense/reversal, or minimization?

11 Child Beauty Pageants Child beauty pageants are contests of beauty and talent held for girls up to age 12 (after which they may participate in “teen” pageants). In these pageants—which are modeled on adult beauty pageants—children are judged on appearance in several outfits, poise, self-confidence, and performance in activities such as dancing and singing. Child pageants in this form began in the United States and have become popular in many other cultures, particularly in Western Europe. Reasons parents cite for participation in this practice include the benefits gained from learning self-presentation skills and from learning about competition at an early age. Critics of the practice believe that pageants reward girls for their beauty, but not their intelligence, and that pageants encourage girls to act more mature than the culture perceives as normal for children of their age. Q: What do you think about this topic? Q: Does anyone disagree? Wrap-up Questions Q: What were your opinions based on? My personal likes/dislikes My values My cultural viewpoint Q: What trends or agreement did you notice among the flight members? Why do you think there was this agreement? People with similar values tended to agree. People with similar likes/dislikes were more likely to agree. There were agreements along cultural lines. Q: When thinking about the IDC, what comments were made during our discussion that might indicate someone is in denial, defense/reversal, or minimization?

12 Cultural Domains Universal categories of knowledge, beliefs, and behavior across all populations Family Marriage Religion Art Political System Sport and Recreation Language / Communcation Economic Systems During the next few minutes we are going to be looking at ways cultures are similar, but during this discussion it’s going to be impossible to keep from talking about differences as well. It’s like trying to pick up a snake’s tail—no matter how hard you try, you always get the head with it as well. However, as much as possible we need to work to stay focused on how cultures are similar. Q: What do we mean by cultural similarities?  Aspects that appear in all, or at least most, cultures. Not things that are exactly the same in all cultures, but things that are recognized in all cultures. Q: What are some human universals (similar concepts and behaviors) we see across cultures? Family Marriage Religion Economic Systems Political Systems Sport and Recreation Art Language/Communication

13 Family Similarities related to family Marriage
Where we live when we leave home Who our children marry Who we do business with Who we work for Who we socialize with Q: In various cultures, what aspects of life can be affected by family? Who we marry Where we live when we leave home Who our children marry Who we do business with Who we work for Who we socialize with Q: Why is it important to consider these family similarities? We all have family of some description. Many people believe family is the most important aspect of their lives. Emotional ties to family has a huge impact on behavior. In some cultures, family is the unit that shapes all others aspects of life.

14 Religion What people want from religion
Explanation for the unknown To find meaning for life Reduction in fear and anxiety Hope and inspiration A playbook for conduct and behavior Similarities related to religion Supernatural agents Concept of taboo Sacred places Religious specialists Rituals Rites of passage Q: What are some functions of religion? Or phrased another way, what is the return on investment people are looking for from religion? Explains the unknown. Provides meaning for individuals. Reduces fears and anxieties that many people have. Provides hope and inspiration. Serves as a playbook of conduct and behavior. Q: What similarities exist related to religion? Supernatural agents Concept of taboo (things being off limits) Sacred places Religious specialists Rituals Rites of passage Q: Why is it important to find similarities in the religious domain?  Because in so many parts of the world religion is not separated from other aspects of the culture like it is in the United States. Religious beliefs are usually strongly held. The belief some have that there is one “chosen people.” Q: What is a taboo?  Something that is off limits As it relates to religion, something sacred and forbidden Q: What are some social taboos related to the military? Officers wearing ribbons Officers with mustaches Officers and enlisted associating socially Q: Why do people ascribe to these?  Not culturally accepted in the military Some are actually written prohibitions Real/perceived reactions against those who violate the taboo

15 Religion Religious Specialists Priests or priestesses Preachers
Bishops Elders Shaman Mediums Sorcerers Witches Q: What are examples of religious specialists? Slide   Q: Why do we refer to all of these as religious specialists? How are they alike?  Seen as a leader People go to them for help Seen as having a connection to God or the spiritual world

16 Political Systems Similarities among political systems
Organizational patterns State systems States vs. nations Ways cultures are organized politically Centralized vs. decentralized Band Tribe Chiefdom Q: What similarities can be found when looking at the various political systems? Slide Q: What are some ways cultures are organized politically?   Slide  Q: How can not understanding the various political organizational patterns affect our interaction with other cultures? We tend to approach everything from a state system point of view which can cause issues when we deal with cultures that are organized in a different political system. Problems in Africa are a good example of what can happen when states are established without regard for other political systems. Q: How are the domains related to one another? Language/communication touches them all Some see sport and art as related Religion, family, and marriage are often closely linked It’s very difficult to separate political systems from economic systems

17 Cultural Relativistic
Back to the IDC Denial Polarization Defense/Reversal Minimization Acceptance Adaptation Ethnocentric Mindset Transitional Mindset Cultural Relativistic Mindset Some might argue that focusing on how we are alike should be the goal in becoming more cross-culturally competent; however, should that really be what we are trying to do? In actuality, similarities are a good starting point, but if we go deep enough in our examination of our similarities, we will be forced to come face-to-face with the striking differences among the world’s cultures. However, recognizing them is not enough; we must be willing to look for ways to deal with the differences in the most productive way. Back to the Intercultural Development Continuum If you’ll recall, we left off our discussion of the IDC with the transitional stage of Minimization where the focus shifted from cultural differences to cultural similarities. Now, we need to finish our discussion of the continuum by focusing on the final stages on the cultural relativistic end of the spectrum. These two stages deal once again with differences, but this time the focus is on dealing with cultural differences in the most effective way possible.

18 Acceptance Recognize/appreciate patterns of cultural difference/commonality in own and other cultures Curious and interested in cultural differences Acknowledge relevance of culture and cultural context but are unclear on how to appropriately adapt to cultural difference Aware of cultural differences, but are still developing intercultural skills Q: How can we develop mindsets that will help us move into the acceptance stage? Developing more of a cultural self-awareness Reconciling similarities and differences Focusing on unity in diversity concepts Interact with people of different cultures and focus on discussing similarities and differences Q: What are some words or actions that indicate a person is more accepting of cultural differences? “The more difference, the better—more difference equals more creative ideas!” “You wouldn’t want to have all the same kind of people around; the ideas get stale, and it’s boring.” “I always try to study a new culture before I go there.” “Sometimes knowing that values are different in various cultures can be confusing; I want to be respectful but still maintain my own values.” “I’d like to be more effective in my communication, so where can I learn about X culture?”

19 Adaptation Able to shift cultural perspectives and change behavior in culturally appropriate ways Tend to have an increased repertoire of cultural frameworks and behaviors Function effectively and appropriately in situations that call for cross-cultural competence. STATE: Since Acceptance and Adaptation are on the cultural relativistic end of the continuum, people are required to be much more open to different points of view. For some people this is difficult because they feel they are abandoning their values and beliefs. Therefore, it’s vital that we all understand that moving into these two stages doesn’t require us to give anything up, but merely to add new cultural frameworks to our repertoire. It’s all about developing a culturally relativistic mindset while maintaining an ethical commitment to our value systems. Q: How can someone move from acceptance to adaptation? More experience in the cross-cultural arena. Applying culture-general info in culture-specific situations. The ability to stay ethically committed to our values while being a relativist as it relates to different cultures. Q: How can you differentiate accepting behavior from adapting behavior? Acceptance means you see and value cultural differences. Adaptation means you can shift your cultural framework to act appropriately in cross-cultural situations. Acceptance is like watching a movie while adaptation is like actually being able to put yourself into the movie. Acceptance is being curious about cultural differences without being judgmental. Adaptation is being mindful and conscious of our actions regarding cultural similarities and differences. Q: What aspects of our lives need to be adapted? How we think about things (cognitive frame-shifting) How we act (behavioral code-shifting) Q: Why is it so important to be able to adapt your words and actions? Failure to adapt can cause communication problems Failing to adapt can lead to misunderstanding Conflicts can arise because we fail to adapt our words and actions Negative cross-cultural interactions can occur

20 Case Studies 1

21 First Cousin Marriage The marriage of what Americans define as “first cousins”—the children of one’s aunts or uncles—is an accepted cultural practice in many cultures, including some European cultures. On the one hand, people of those cultures do not believe that such marriages produce more children with physical or mental disabilities than other marriages, and scientific research shows little statistical differences in the disability rates of children from both kinds of marriages. On the other hand, there are also cultural reasons for practicing first cousin marriage. Some of these reasons include the desire to maintain or increase alliances, to maintain family wealth through the mother’s lineage or the father’s lineage, or to maintain specific bloodlines (such as “royal” bloodlines). In addition, in some languages, the people whom we call “cousin,” “aunt,” and “uncle” are called by distinct terms depending on whether they are from one’s mother’s or father’s side of the family. For example, the sisters and brothers of one’s mother’s brother may have a different title than a girl born to one’s father’s brother, etc. These naming rules usually help people determine who is a possible marriage partner according to their particular cultural traditions. Q: What do you think about this topic? Q: Does anyone disagree? Wrap-up Questions Q: What did it take for you to answer as a cultural relativist? Be more accepting of cultural differences Be willing to adapt my mindset related to these concepts Changing the way I think about the topic Looking at the topic from a different point of view Being more open to different cultural norms Q: How did you feel about being asked to answer in this way? Accept various student responses Q: What did you have to be accepting of to respond this way? That different isn’t necessarily good or bad That various cultures approach topics in very different ways That my point of view is not always the prevailing world view of a topic Q: What did you have to adapt to respond this way? My use of evaluative comments when responding on a topic Application of my value system to others cultural choices

22 Belief in and Worship of Multiple Gods
Also called polytheism, this practice refers to the belief in and/or worship of more than one deity who is believed to control aspects of nature and human behavior. The practice has variations between cultures, such as those who believe that many gods are a part of a supreme being, those who worship one god but accept the existence of many gods, those who hold that gods are synonymous with natural forces, and those who hold that gods have human personality traits or are spirits of one’s ancestors. It is often contrasted with monotheism, which is the belief in one omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent supreme being. Approximately 30% of the world’s population practices some form of polytheism. Q: What do you think about this topic? Q: Does anyone disagree? Wrap-up Questions Q: What did it take for you to answer as a cultural relativist? Be more accepting of cultural differences Be willing to adapt my mindset related to these concepts Changing the way I think about the topic Looking at the topic from a different point of view Being more open to different cultural norms Q: How did you feel about being asked to answer in this way? Accept various student responses Q: What did you have to be accepting of to respond this way? That different isn’t necessarily good or bad That various cultures approach topics in very different ways That my point of view is not always the prevailing world view of a topic Q: What did you have to adapt to respond this way? My use of evaluative comments when responding on a topic Application of my value system to others cultural choices

23 Registration of Sex Offenders
In many cultures, people are defined as sex offenders if they have been convicted of “sexually violent offences against adults and children and certain sexual contact and other crimes against victims who are minors” (www.nsopw.gov). Sex offenders in these countries are often required to register with local and national government authorities so the authorities can keep track of their residence and activities. Some local governments restrict the activities of registered sex offenders, defining where they can live and whether they can participate in certain activities, such as using the internet. This practice may reflect the growing public awareness about sexual crimes and the value placed on the justice system as a means of controlling society. Q: What do you think about this topic? Q: Does anyone disagree? Wrap-up Questions Q: What did it take for you to answer as a cultural relativist? Be more accepting of cultural differences Be willing to adapt my mindset related to these concepts Changing the way I think about the topic Looking at the topic from a different point of view Being more open to different cultural norms Q: How did you feel about being asked to answer in this way? Accept various student responses Q: What did you have to be accepting of to respond this way? That different isn’t necessarily good or bad That various cultures approach topics in very different ways That my point of view is not always the prevailing world view of a topic Q: What did you have to adapt to respond this way? My use of evaluative comments when responding on a topic Application of my value system to others cultural choices

24 Developing KSAs Relationship between IDC and cross-cultural competence
Relationship between cultural domains and cross-cultural competence Hopefully you’ve come to the conclusion that you can be accepting of and even adaptive to cultural differences without compromising your values and beliefs. Now, as we close out the lesson, we need to see how what we’ve discussed can help us develop the type of 3C knowledge, skills, and attitudes the Air Force needs us all to have. Developing Culture-General KSAs Q: How can understanding the IDC help build culture-general KSAs? Knowing the two different approaches—ethnocentrism and cultural relativism—can help us evaluate our own and others abilities to deal with cultural differences. Helps us see how our cultural point of view impacts our thought processes and behaviors. By knowing where I am I can formulate a plan that promotes my continuing development along the continuum. Q: How can understanding the IDC help you become a better communicator? Helps me realize that ethnocentric comments are likely to be counterproductive to good communication. Being more accepting and adaptive in my interactions should encourage better communication . Recognizing my own intercultural development should be beneficial in formulating the most effective communication style in cross-cultural situations.   Q: Why is an understanding of the IDC important when negotiating/dealing with conflict in cross-cultural situations? Being more culturally relative will usually be more productive when negotiating. Polarization (especially defense) isn’t likely to produce the kind of results you would like. You’ll realize that Minimization will lead only to “Agree to disagree” type responses and not usually to a resolution of the issues. Q: How can understanding cultural domains help you develop KSAs? Just being aware of the various domains can increase my knowledge Help me see cultural similarities Provide a common ground on which to build relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds Gain a better understanding of how people view family, religion, political systems, etc. Q: What are some specific culture-general KSAs having this understanding will help you develop? Better communication skills Better relationship skills Better negotiation skills Q: What are some short- and long-term goals you can set based on having a better understanding of how to deal with cultural similarities and differences?

25 Summary The Intercultural Development Continuum
Cultural Domains: A Framework for Recognizing Cultural Similarities Back to the Intercultural Development Continuum Developing Culture-General KSAs SUMMARY We began this lesson by introducing the IDC and spent most of our time talking about cultural differences. Then, we transitioned into a discussion of various cultural domains where we focused on how cultural similarities are a good starting point for dealing with cultural differences. Next, we went back and finished the IDC, but this time the focus was more on being a cultural relativist while maintain ethical commitment to our value system. Finally, we wrapped things up by discussing how you can use both these concepts—the IDC and cultural domains—to help you develop your 3C KSAs.   REMOTIVATION As we finish this lesson, we also conclude the culture-general portion of our curriculum. However, you don’t need to forget what we’ve covered. If you’ll recall, we said that culture-general information is only part of the 3C puzzle. The rest of the picture will be filled in with culture-specific information, which will come in the form of regional studies lessons and briefings. CLOSURE So, I hope you take the past 3 hours along with the other 3C curriculum we’ve covered so far to help you be successful during the rest of this course. But more importantly, I challenge you to use everything you learn about cross-cultural competence as you strive to develop as an Air Force officer.

26 Homework Prepare for Lesson # 10 Setting the World Stage


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