Robert Krizek’s article deals with his personal journey towards discovering his cultural identity. In his writing, he describes how he came full circle in his quest to trace the foundations of his identity. Specifically, he used his personal experiences to characterize the cultural concept of whiteness. Through his journey, aimed at bringing him closer to his identity, Krizek is able to elaborate on a very valuable tool that ethnographers fail to utilize, personal experiences.
Krizek cites two reasons why he writes the said article. His first reason is that he wants people to see his personal conception of his culture being a white male. He argues that the concept of whiteness can be best understood through theoretical and practical analysis. He believes that white male ethnographers are the most capable explorers of whiteness for it is through their study of their personal experiences that the true ideals and meaning of what being white is all about can be revealed. Krizek’s second reason for writing the article is that he wants his writing to serve as an inspiration to others. He wants his writing to encourage other people to explore their personal cultural identities by looking at their personal experiences such as he does.
Krizek discusses several important cultural concepts in his article. First, he considers the concept of whiteness and how the different perspectives that researchers have used to such concept. He names certain articles as valuable tools for any individual who wants to engage in further reading on the topic of whiteness. Secondly, Krizek dicusses lengthily how assimilation affects not just blacks, Hispanics, and Asians but even American-born whites as well. He notes that the efforts to normalize culture in a diverse nation like America is, has caused people, specifically white, male Americans to lose their grip on their cultural identity. Krizek mentions media as most influential factor that shapes the culture of various races.
Krizek writes of how he lost touch with his identity and how it made him feel. He begins his narrative by recounting his colorful experiences as a child, providing readers with vivid descriptions of the people and the places that he grew up and came to know. He describes his feelings and thoughts as he sat in the parlor, as he visited the hardware, and as he hung out in Carl’s barbershop. He explains the contentment and joy he felt as he sat and listened to the conversations people had around him. Sadly, as he explains, all his memories of those times seemed to have faded to such extent that it seemed like it was never part of his life. It was only in graduate school that he realized such disconnection from his past and from his culture. Krizek felt the need to fill in such void and he found his answers as he spent time immersing himself in the culture of the Lakota people. It was this experience that led Krizek to rediscover his cultural identity. The differences between the rituals and culture of the Lakota people and those that he had gotten used to gave him the sense of appreciation of his culture. More importantly, such experience made him see that cultural identity is founded on the conversations that one takes part in and the experiences that one has.
Krizek’s article highlights an important aspect of ethnographic studies and cultural identity, the role that personal experiences play. One’s experiences are the primary source of information when one attempts to define their cultural identity for it was Krizek’s personal experiences that led him to discover his cultural identity as a white American male.
What does Krizek mean when he refers to assimilation as having a normalizing effect on white Americans as well as people of color?
The normalizing effect that assimilation has on white Americans and people of color refers to the disconnection with each group cultural identity that assimilation causes. Krizek explains that people often think that it is only people of color that lose their personal cultural identity as they immerse themselves in the American culture. This, he explains, is especially true for immigrants who need to adapt to the culture of the country. However, Krizek argues that white Americans also lose sense of who they are as white Americans because of the process of assimilation. He states, “To varying degrees, all of us who live in the United States give up something… we have all been coerced into assimilating.” (Krizek, p. 64) He further explains that because of the “white” notion that they are the dominant group in society, white Americans have taken for granted the places and events that are supposed to shape their culture as a group and as individuals.
This website provides further information on cultural identity. I picked this website because it is in line with Krizek’s argument that integration into one culture can lead to identity confusion. Furthermore, I chose this website because it provides personal narratives such as the one in the article.
I chose this website because of its goal, to promote and encourage cultural exploration and self-discovery among White Americans. This website, I believe, will help me understand better the concept of whiteness that Krizek discussed in his article.
I chose this website because it discusses the dimensions of being “white.” Also, it provides information as to what being white is and is not. Finally, it contains the “Bill of Rights for Multicultural People” which contains an insightful look into multiracial relations.
Polly Begley’s article, “Sojourner Adaptation,” discusses the various factors that affect cultural adaptation. It analyzes different elements that determine how well a person adapts to a new culture. Furthermore, it notes down certain techniques and strategies that would facilitate one’s acceptance of cultural changes and differences.
Begley uses the concept of a sojourn to elaborate on the concept of cultural adaptation. A sojourn or a journey best represents an individual’s traverse of various cultures brought about by globalization. She defines adaptation as, “how a sojourner chooses to cope with cultural changes.” (Begley, p. 388) Begley notes that today, a lot of people are sojourners. Immigrants, multinational firm managers, international students, and even tourists can be considered sojourners for they all encounter new cultures. Her writing provides sojourners with a guide as to the best way of adapting to a new culture.
Begley discusses certain challenges that sojourners encounter when trying to adapt to a new culture. She names ethnocentrism or the bias that leads people to judge another culture’s practices as right or wrong using their own cultural attitudes and beliefs as the basis for their judgment. (Begley, p. 389) She explains that ethnocentrism can limit a person’s mind and prevent him from accepting that each culture has its own set of practices, rituals, and beliefs. She further points out that ethnocentrism creates great difficulties for the sojourner since it prevents him from learning the practices that will help him function in the new culture such as developing business deals, creating new relationships, and appreciating the people. Begley stresses that the only way to overcome ethnocentrism is for the sojourner to “reserve judgment and to accept that different is not automatically negative when they encounter diverse customs and habits.” (Begley, P. 389)
Another factor that affect the adaptation process is the length of stay if the sojourner in the new place. Begley notes that when a sojourner only plans a short-term in a new place, he less motivated to acquire knowledge about the new culture. This is true for tourists since they only need to learn common phrases of the new language to get by on their trip. On the other hand, sojourners such as managers assigned to a new place, immigrants, or international students who all require a lengthier stay need to acquire a greater degree of understanding of the new culture.
Personality characteristics are another valuable and influential determinant. The author notes that a sojourner must be maintain an open mind and must remain willing to accept cultural differences.
Begley discusses several strategies that will facilitate cultural adaptation. However, she stresses that preparation is, by far, the most critical strategy that a sojourner can utilize. She notes that a sojourner must prepare for the new culture both in mindset and with knowledge. He must be prepared to encounter different habits and practices and at the same time he must be armed with sufficient knowledge about the new culture. If needed, he must study the various facets of the new culture such as the language, etiquette, and prevailing attitudes.
Finally, Begley notes that a sojourner must be willing to communicate with others for it is the new culture’s people that can best provide him with the knowledge he needs to effectively adapt to the new culture.
In what ways can ethnocentrism affect the adaptation of a sojourner to a new cultural environment?
Ethnocentrism poses a great challenge for a sojourner. As Begley defines it, ethnocentrism is the bias that leads people to judge a new culture as right or wrong based on his own cultural attitudes and beliefs. Thus, ethnocentrism limits the mind of the sojourner. It hinders the person from accepting cultural differences. In doing so, it prevent the sojourner from adapting to the new culture. If a sojourner immediately judges a certain practice as something wrong, he will not be able to reach his goal. For instance, international business managers who deal with their counterparts from a different culture cannot succeed in reaching their goal if they are hindered by ethnocentrism from accepting that cultural differences exist. As Begley notes, ethnocentrism is a factor that leads to the failure of international business’ marketing strategies. In summary, ethnocentric attitudes can hinder a sojourner from effectively adapting to the new culture.
I chose this website because it serves as a guide for students who are to study abroad. This website describes culture and how international students can cope with their encounters of new cultures. This website provides further information that coincides with the factors and techniques that Begley noted in her article.
This website provides business managers with a guide on the differences in terms of business etiquette in different countries. I chose this website because it contains information that will help me understand and see the differences between various cultures in terms of business practices.
This website is a very effective tool that aids people in understanding cultural differences between nations. I chose this website because it contains vast amounts of fact and information that will help me gain knowledge regarding the culture of different places. Also, I believe that this website can be an effective tool for a sojourner as he prepares to enter and integrate himself into a new culture.
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