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Cultural and Ethics Studies

Cultural bias is a phenomenon deeply entrenched in human nature. Individuals tend to judge the actions, behaviors, values, and other aspects of someone’s culture based on the cultural standards. The biases influence the way individuals relate to and perceive the people they meet. However, there is a growing need to overcome ethnocentric cultural biases since globalization is consistently building a society that is culturally diverse. Primarily, educational institutions and workplaces are sourcing students and competent employees from varied cultural backgrounds, creating the need to trounce ethnocentric biases. Overcoming the cultural biases that affect social interactions needs one to immerse into the culture by interacting with members of the cultural group at a close and honest level as well as seeking theoretical knowledge about the culture. In my case, I had an opportunity to interact with Raha from Iran who gave me deep and great insights about the Persian culture, which also cured some of my misinformation.
Ethnocentric Cultural Biases
Before meeting Raha, I did not know much about the Persian culture. Nevertheless, I have suffered many ethnocentric biases that influenced my interactions with people of Iranian descent. I have believed that women are overly religious there and that they must watch what they eat and dress to maintain their beauty and respect the culture. In her culture, the family is highly valued. This family covers beyond the nuclear unit to the far extended family.
From Raha, I discovered that although women tend to be close to their fathers, they are shy to engage men who are not family members since the engagement is interpreted negatively. Seeing a woman alone in the company of a man still looks suspicious to me since it is a deeply entrenched culture that women should interact with fellow women to avoid, except for the family members. Even though Raha lived all her life in the U.S., she knows that in her country a woman who raises a child without the child’s father is considered an outcast and poorly treated by everyone including their children.
Gender roles are aptly defined, and each member of the family must take their positions seriously. When Raha talked so positively about the mother, I felt that she lacked morals and values of a child raised respectfully. I also believed that children must live with their relatives more often. A child who grows up without living with their grandparents or several members of the extended family is viewed as lacking the wisdom that often accompanies the experience of age.

Changes on the Biases after Interacting with the Group

Interacting with Raha has dramatically changed my ethnocentric biases. Firstly, Raha defined family in a manner that improves my entire perception of the family. To her, “family is someone who is always by your side through your brightest and darkest moments”. The family is the people who always stick by you.” Blood relations, therefore, do not define family but the commitment to the good of others.
In the Persian culture, the family value is earned through a commitment to better the life of another person. Raha’s mother, for instance, gives everything to ensure that the members of her family are comfortable and safe. Perhaps this explains why Raha shuns discussing her father in the whole interview. Indeed, she asserts that to her, the mother was both a man and a woman in her roles. Raha’s view of family challenges my perception that child needs the wisdom of her elderly relatives and replaces it with the belief that people require a commitment to a relationship than any other thing.
The encounter with Raha has also changed my biases about women being over religious and worrying so much about their food and dressing. As an Iranian girl, Raha admits that she is not overly religious and would not mind trying different foods. Eating or shunning food would be a personal decision based on her experience with the food, rather than an ethical decision. Further, Raha challenges my belief on gender roles. Having a single mother who carters for all her needs, she tends to see both a father and a mother in her. This assertion reinforces the Iranian belief that family includes the people that impact one’s life and commits to the improvement of the lives of the others.

Lessons from the Assignment

The assignment has expanded my knowledge on cultural biases. I have learned that the ethnocentric perception may not be the correct viewpoint of culture. Cultures are different and fulfilling if you manage to understand them. I have also noted that it is natural to be ethnocentric if one fails to immerse him or herself in the target cultures.

Lessons about the Cultural Group

The Iranian culture is one of the oldest in the world. The dominant position of the Iranian culture in the region has primarily influenced other cultures, including the Italian, Greece, Macedonia and Russian people among others. The cultural elasticity nature of the Iran people has contributed to the historical longevity and the spread of the Iranian culture. Despite integrating with other communities, the Iran people still uphold most of their cultural values and beliefs. Persia is the predominant language spoken in the region, though other languages such as Kurdish, Arabic, and Azerbaijani are used in different areas of Iran.
From my case study, I discovered that family in Iran forms the basis of the social structure. Men and women take varying roles and duties within the family that are taken seriously. While the traditional Iranian culture was against the interchange of obligation between men and women, the current developments have seen Persian women take up the duties of men, especially single parents. The families are mostly small; nevertheless, the extended families are made close so that individuals can derive support or assistance from the extended family members. Loyalty of the family is more significant and comes before any other form of relationships, including business relations.
Majority of the Iranian people still uphold the desired etiquette and custom of their traditional culture. As observed in the case, praying before meals is a dining etiquette that is still practiced by the community. Moreover, respect for the elderly by greeting them first is etiquette that is distinct to the culture. Even though there are misconceptions that the Iranian culture is based on religious extremism and that most people are uneducated, the reality is that the Iranian culture supports education and offers maximum flexibility for the integration of the Iranian culture into other cultures.
Challenging Cultural Biases and Learning about other Cultures in Future
I have learned that it is vital to question my cultural preferences. Cultural bias affects communication and breeds judgments that may have far-reaching effects on human social interactions. To promote harmony, increase mutual understanding and general relationship, it is inevitable that one immerses themselves into the other cultures in a manner that overcomes cultural bias. To ensure that it happens, I will freely interact with people from diverse cultures, asking questions about the relationship between the behaviors and actions they take, and their customers. I will also commit to reading widely about different world culture to ensure that I objectively perceive all cultural presentations.

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