could you do this 1-2 page essay please?
Assignment—Reflection on Diversity
Choose one of the following topics to discuss. Reflect upon your chosen topic in a one- to two-page essay, double-spaced, in APA format. Make sure to include a title page. Based on the topic you choose, describe what the experience was like, how it made you feel and think, and what you learned from it. Connect your discussion to at least three concepts, examples, and/or quotes from the course readings or lectures.
- Explore a time when you felt like “other”—when you were made to feel invisible, excluded, or too visible.
- Explore a time when you perceived someone or some group as “other” (when you noticed someone or some group was outside or excluded).
- Explore a time when a connection was made between you and an “other.
- Below are the last 2 lectures to reference
Not long ago, Americans lived in a world of social capsules. Caucasians lived in their capsule, African Americans in theirs, Latinos and Asian Americans in still others. Even White ethnic groups such as Jews and Eastern Europeans stayed mainly apart. Some places and circumstances did exist where paths would cross and folks would poke their heads out of their capsules a bit. Entertainers could visit other capsules, retreating quickly once the show ended; servants and employees came and went because business was conducted on common ground; and even education was carried out in mutual (if somewhat uncomfortable) arenas. But outside of these kinds of formal interactions, there was little communication or contact between dominant and minority groups. We don’t do that anymore, for a host of reasons that extend beyond the scope of this class. In fact, classes such as this are probably the best evidence of how much things have changed. To meet the challenges of today’s reality, we need to develop some strategies.
Step by Step
We have talked about the importance of understanding and valuing cultural and racial/ethnic differences. We have also talked about how minority group identities came into being. What we haven’t yet talked about is how to apply some of our new understandings. Earlier we touched on the importance of approaching cross-cultural interactions collaboratively. Collaboration implies a process in which two or more parties cooperatively interact in ways to accomplish a goal or reach an end. We will work through a series of steps or stages to facilitate the process. They are by no means exhaustive, nor are they absolutes. They are primarily starting points to get you thinking about racial/ethnic and cross-cultural interactions. Some may sound rather simplistic, but sometimes we need to think about the little things in order to avoid larger problems.
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Interactions begin the instant any form of contact is made. The entire tone of the exchange can be established in the blink of an eye, literally. If you are a member of the dominant group, and you are about to enter into some interaction with someone from a minority group, you may be assured that you will be carefully (albeit probably unconsciously) scrutinized for any hints as to what the minority person can expect from you. By the same token, if you are a minority, you will be doing the scrutinizing and will most likely draw some conclusions and inferences about both the person and the outcome of the interaction. The critical component is what each party does next. If either or both parties fall back on old assumptions, stereotypes, and value judgments, the interaction is likely to be somewhat rocky. Half the battle is, in all parties, being aware that differences exist and, in all parties, being important mediators for understanding.
Ethnocentric responses to differences and defensive reactions to ethnocentrism are the result of some trigger. Any number of things can serve as triggers, but they will generally fall into one or more of the following categories: voice, appearance, attitude, and behavior. Your first act or action will trigger a response. Think of it as a process of action-reaction-interaction. Most professional encounters will (or at least should) be neutral in the beginning. Assume that you initiate the process with a smile. The other person smiles back and says hello. Your smile is an act, his or her return smile is a response, and the “hello” begins the interaction. Unfortunately, things are seldom that simple, especially when there is a status or power differential between the acting parties. This is why it is so important to understand how triggers can shape the interaction process.
Vocal triggers include such things as a distinctive accent, speech patterns, terminology, inflections or timbre, rhythm or lilt, argot or slang, and the like. Holding all other factors constant, a distinctive accent and speech pattern associated with a minority group will generate a different reaction than if it is associated with dominant group membership.
Appearance triggers include such things as physical characteristics (such as race or gender), clothing style or fashion, adornments that are distinctive because of what they are, or the manner or place in which they are displayed, hair styles, cosmetic use (or absence), or physiological alterations (for example, tattoos, piercings, and cosmetic surgery). Physical characteristics can include differences in views of the body itself. One of the most common of these is the presence of body odor. In American and most other industrialized Western cultures, the presence of body odor is associated with poor hygiene or slovenliness, and it is considered offensive. Not all cultures share that understanding. Many consider body odor as a characteristic as distinctive as facial features. In reality, body odor may be as much a result of diet as it is of cleanliness.
Attitude often is interpreted as meaning such things as being assertive or aggressive, passive, cocky, or something similar. These are indeed attitudes, but they are not all-inclusive by any means. Body stance and position, eye contact, gestures, and expressions also are generated by attitude. One very important attitude is related to appropriate spatial proximity while interacting. We all understand that how close together or far apart we stand or sit is related to the degree of intimacy with the person or persons and the nature of the interaction. Appropriate spatial distance is much different for friends and family than it is for acquaintances and strangers. By the same token, standing or sitting next to and touching someone with whom we share intimacy is much different in your own home than it is when seated in a church pew or at a bus stop. The cultural concept of spatial distance is fairly universal, but what defines closeness or intimacy varies widely. What an American might consider a distance appropriate only for a close relative or lover could easily be considered a normal casual conversation distance by someone from another culture. An important conversation or discussion, such as for business, might require an even closer approach with intense eye contact and touching.
Behaviors are highly complex and many are mediated by everything else we have talked about here. But some behavioral differences create more issues in the business and professional world than others. As with most things in this class, this list is not all-inclusive but serves only to point out the importance of understanding things in a cultural, rather than a personal, context.
Time: Many cultures view Americans as being obsessed by clocks, and if you think about it, they do have a point. Just make a count of the number of clocks we have around us! How much radio and television time and newspaper space is devoted twice each year to reminding us to adjust our clocks for Daylight Savings Time so that we won’t be late? As a matter of fact, how much time do we spend finding and resetting all of our clocks twice a year? We are not going to spend any time (there it is again) discussing the reasons that we may be time-obsessed other than to note that, as with all cultural forms, it serves a purpose in our society. Not all cultures, however, share that obsession, and they find us a bit amusing. They may not quite be able to comprehend why, when we schedule a meeting for 9:00 a.m., we expect them to be there at 9:00 a.m. – not approximately 9:00 a.m., which could be as late as 10:30 in their culture.
Manners: These are probably the most problematic of all of the cross-cultural differences. Fortunately, they are also the ones for which ignorance is the most likely to be forgiven or overlooked the first time they are broken. Notice that I said the first time. It is incumbent upon you to familiarize yourself with such things when you know that you will be interacting with someone from a culture with which you are not familiar – that, too, is good mannConflict between a society’s dominant and minority groups is nearly always rooted in the structured inequality of access to scarce and valued resources. In the United States and most industrialized Western nations, economic resources are at the center of the conflict. Society’s most powerful members are predominantly from the dominant group, and it is they who make and shape the values, ideals, goals, and means of achievement for the rest of society. Problems begin to arise, though, when these values, ideals, goals, and means of achievement become barriers to resources for some groups and gateways for others. Those for whom they are gateways are understandably protective of their advantage, and those for whom they are barriers become frustrated and discontented. What is most unfortunate is that both sides generally lose sight of the structural nature of the system and instead fall back on stereotypes and ideology. The dominant group places the blame for disadvantage on the disadvantaged, based on assumptions about group characteristics such as lack of motivation, cultural preferences, or other victim-blaming ideas. On the other side, resistance to change and a seeming refusal to open the doors of opportunity are interpreted as racist or sexist attempts to deny them their rights, strategies to oppress and exploit them, or simple hatred. While arguments for and against both sides can be made, none are very useful in addressing the real issue – inequality itself and its costs to the society at large.
Dimensions of Inequality
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There are three basic social dimensions or determinants of where people are placed in the social stratification hierarchy. They are economics, power, and prestige. Collectively, we refer to them as our socioeconomic status, and it is determined by how and where these three dimensions intersect and diverge. Our access to these dimensions is largely a matter of our ascribed or achieved positions in society. An ascribed position is one to which we are born or receive as a result of factors over which we have no control. Being born to a racial group is one example, as is becoming disabled as a result of a debilitating disease. An achieved position is one that results from actions or behaviors on our part or the part of others. Being elected to a public office is an example, and so is becoming a convict. Every social position, whether it is ascribed or achieved, carries with it the three dimensions of stratification, but they do not always have the same value. To start, let’s define each term in turn.
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This refers to what are known as common life chances. The level of access to economic resources is a prime determinant to what you will have in life. It is not enough, however, to place everyone with the same economic resources in the same social class position. Nor will it be enough alone to acquire greater access to the other two dimensions.
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Power, as defined here, refers to the ability to enforce one’s will over others in spite of their resistance and the power to control one’s own life. Access to power and economics are linked, but again, power alone is not necessarily associated with increased economic access, nor is economic access a guarantee of more power.
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Prestige in this sense refers to how well or poorly one’s social position is thought of in society. In the U.S., this is usually a matter of occupation. High-status occupations generally are quite prestigious, but that does not necessarily mean that they either have great power or bring economic rewards. For example, the occupation of college professor carries a very high prestige rank but is not paid nearly as much as many less prestigious occupations, nor do professors have a great deal of social power.
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As an illustration, think of the two occupations of elementary school teacher and truck driver. The U.S. starting median income of each is around $30,000 to $35,000 a year. With that, they have the same economic circumstances, but what about the other two? Which has the greater prestige? Consider that the teacher has received a college degree, while the truck driver probably has a high school education, plus some formal training. To which do we afford the most prestige? Also, which has the most power? Neither has much in the way of social power except that the teacher does have considerable power over his or her students, and has potential power over parents in cases in which the child’s safety and/or health are concerned. In addition, the teacher has considerable autonomy in his or her job. A teacher is generally a salaried worker whose pay will continue uninterrupted during short periods of illness or incapacity, while the truck driver is generally paid by miles driven, as a percentage of the freight charge, or by the hour. In any case, if he or she doesn’t or can’t drive, the truck driver doesn’t get paid. Notice that the social importance of the occupation is not a factor; it is the nature of the work and not the value of the end that establishes socioeconomic position.
Competition for Resource Access
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Minority groups have lower socioeconomic positions in American society than White Americans. Part of the problem is related to prejudicial attitudes toward them, but most comes from the structured nature of unequal access to the three dimensions of socioeconomic status. The foundations of inequality lie in the historical experiences of minorities in the U.S. All have, at one time or another and to some degree, been the victims of exploitation, discrimination, and mistreatment by the dominant society (with the support of both custom and law). Such things are now a thing of the past in the minds of most dominant group members, but there are remnants deeply embedded in our social structure, so deeply in fact that they are nearly invisible. Our educational system is a good example. We do not have a unified national public school system with a common curriculum and uniform funding. Public schools are, and always have been, under local control, administered by local school boards and funded primarily through property taxes. As a result, educational resources for public schools vary widely. Areas with high property values, such as suburban areas, have much more in the way of economic resources to invest in teacher salaries, facilities, and technology than do poor districts, such as those in inner city and poor rural areas. The end result is that students from the wealthier districts generally have better educational opportunities than those from poor districts, and they are more likely to go on to higher education than are their poorer cohorts. The matter is further complicated by a concept that places a greater value on where someone has gone to school than on what one actually may have learned there. It becomes quite evident at the university level – a Harvard grad applying for a job is more likely to be hired than an equally qualified individual from a state university, simply because of the Harvard name. The same is also true of high schools. A student from a well-regarded suburban high school is more likely to be accepted at a highly ranked university than one from a poorly ranked school.
Our customs and ideology often make it difficult for the dominant group to understand the nature of structured inequality and also difficult for minority groups to understand why it continues to exist, in spite of efforts to put an end to it.
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