Misconceptions within Different Cultures

Misconceptions within Different Cultures

Introduction

The pattern of thoughts and actions of people differs depending on their belonging to a particular culture. Due to the great importance of cultural aspect in the lives of people, the experts in the field of social science became quite interested in the impact of culture on personality and behavior of the individuals. In fact, while observing the behavioral differences, specific forms of behavior can be defined, which vary from culture to culture as well as the features which remain relatively constant and can be found in all cultures. However, studies of the cultures of different countries point to the fact that they have not only differences, but also similarities. In fact, it can be said that the national culture of one country is different from the national culture of another country. Nevertheless, at the same time both of the countries are the part of a general concept called the world culture.

The following paper is aimed to demonstrate the understanding of cultural relativism and to examine misconceptions and ethnocentric beliefs concerning different cultures. In fact, Part 1 of the paper is aimed to provide the description of the race aspect as the basis for the cultural differences from an etic (outsider's) perspective, while Part 2 of the paper is aimed to describe the eating disorders of young Fiji women caused by television from an emic (insider’s) perspective.

Part 1. Description of the Race from an Etic (Outsider's) Perspective

Modern racial appearance of the humanity is the result of a complex historical development of the racial groups which lived, mixed, evolved or disappeared. In fact, there is no need in the external clues to figure out that modern people are divided into different groups based on their appearance, language, behavior pattern, etc. However, the racial classification systems built on different attributes do not always coincide. This is due to the different time and history of formation of systems of signs that constitute each of these classifications. Nevertheless, the term 'race' implies the biological concept. The classic racial traits include the differences in appearance such as different color and shape of the eyes, lips, nose, hair, skin color, and facial structure as well as the shape of the head. People also recognize each other mainly by the facial features. In addition, people also use the signs of the body structure such as height, weight, body type, proportion. However, signs of the body structure vary more within any group compared to the signs of head and, moreover, are often highly dependent on the environmental, natural and artificial conditions and, therefore, cannot be used as an independent source for the recognition of the race differences.

Racists are the people who believe that innate, inherited biological characteristics determine human behavior (Crapo, 2013). In fact, the racist doctrine claims that national identity is determined by the purity of blood. According to this concept, the value of an individual is not determined by one's personality, but by one's belonging to the specific race. The popular misunderstanding in the modern world implies that differences in the races of people cause differences in the cultures. In fact, it cannot be considered as the absolute truth. According to the research, genetic material of the representatives of various races is just 0.5% different from each other (Crapo, 2013). It means that differences in the pattern of behavior of the representatives of different human races have cultural basis, but are not based on biological aspect. In fact, any of the social characteristics of the groups of people such as language, religion, etc. cannot be considered as the trait caused by the racial differences. There is no causal link between the culture and biological (hereditary) trait (Laborde, 2009). The abovementioned statement is proved by a variety of research. Apart from that, industrial development of the economy during the 20th and 21st century can be considered as the proof for the abovementioned idea.

Part 2. Description of Eating Disorders of Young Fiji Women Caused by Television, from an Emic (Insider’s) Perspective

The problem of the interaction between people, their attitudes to each other as well as the way an individual perceives the world through the prism of the culture has worried the mankind since the ancient times. Since the emergence of a variety of means of communication, the abovementioned interactions and relationships between people changed, creating mass culture. Nowadays, the media is supposed to be an integral part of the modern life. Every day people listen to the radio, watch TV, talk on the phone, communicate on the Internet, etc. However, it should be mentioned that media has not only the positive side in its ability to inform people about the current events and help to communicate with each other, but also it can cause the negative changes in the culture which harm the people’s health as well as change their attitudes towards the different issues (Phillips, 2007). In fact, it can be the cause for the occurrence of the various eating disorders.

Eating disorders occur in a larger number of people, no matter whether they live in developed or developing countries. In fact, eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Contrary to other disorders, the binge eating is more noticeable, as people with the abovementioned disorder are often overweight. The reasons that lead to overeating can be emotional, for instance, the stress caused by social problems. Overeating can also be provoked by a rigid diet. In other words, overeating is a serious eating disorder, which can cause a variety of negative effects on the human health.

In 2001, the research conducted at Fiji noticed the occurrence of eating disorders among the young Fiji women caused by television (Becker, 2004). It had been stated that people were more likely to suffer from eating disorder with television rather than without it. It can be stated that television affected people's minds changing their eating pattern and causing the eating disorders. It can be assumed that people began to compare themselves and their lives with others. This could cause the feeling of dissatisfaction, which led to the emergence of symptoms of the eating disorders (Becker, 2004).

According to the research the introduction of television in Western Fiji caused the significant economic and social changes in the community. The study was conducted in the form of an interview from 30 selected ethnic Fijian secondary school girls. While answering at the open-ended and semi-structured interviews, they proved the occurrence of the eating disorders after the television introduction in their community. The received data proves that media imagery is used in both creative and destructive ways onto the adolescent Fijian girls. In fact, it causes a lot of conflicts due to the rapidly changing social environment.

The television can be considered as a factor affecting the cultural processes in the information society. It fills the leisure time of the person, informs about the popular events in the world, entertains and teaches. However, it has quite profound effect on the spiritual values as well as on the whole structure of the thinking pattern creating the attitude to the modern culture. In other words, the modern culture consists not only of a set of the newly created values, but it is also formed by the mass media, including TV, which serves as a mechanism of distribution of the abovementioned values.

People who consistently overeat are usually depressed about it. Such people often have bad sleep, feel stressed and, as the consequence, try to abandon an active social life. All body systems are constantly working without any rest, as people are constantly eating. If a person is unable to get out of this situation itself, the one should seek help from a psychotherapist for the appropriate treatment.

Conclusion

The paper demonstrated the understanding of cultural relativism and examined misconceptions and ethnocentric beliefs concerning different cultures. Part 1 of the paper provided the description of the race aspect as the basis for the cultural differences from an etic (outsider's) perspective. It has been acknowledged that the culture and the race do not influence each other. The racial differences do not cause the differences in the races as the genetic material of the representatives of the various races is just 0.5% different from each other. It proved that the differences in the pattern and behavior of the representatives of the different human races have cultural basis, but not the biological aspect.

Part 2 of the paper described the eating disorders of the young Fiji women caused by television from an emic (insider’s) perspective. It has been estimated that the introduction of the television had significant influence on the eating patter of the young Fiji women due to the ability of the television to influence the cultural processes.