“Cultures are merely different, not deficient, and each culture’s norms and practices should be assed only from the perspective of the culture itself, not by standards embraced by another culture. It is the idea that one cannot make judgments about a culture just because they are not a part of that it. Outsiders should be able to see the cultural from a neutral perspective and not judge the culture before understanding it. Each culture should be viewed with respect and as an equal because no one culture is better than any other. They should be allowed to practice their own beliefs, what a cultures believes to be true, and values, a shared view about is right.”
source: Cultural communication
What is the relationship between culture and conflict? How do cultural differences play an important role in conflict? Why does all this matter?
Conflict is part of most interpersonal relationships. Misunderstandings can arise because of cultural differences. Culture seems to make a distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and people usually favor ‘us’ over ‘them’. This distinction generally leads to bias and prejudice that one’s own culture is superior to other cultures. In other words, people tend to favor of one’s in-group and discrimination against out-group, thereby leading to cultural conflict. Cultures are embedded in almost every conflict. It affects the way we frame a relationship with others and also identifies how people in a different culture see and deal with conflict in a different ways. For example, conflict between a teenager and parents is influenced by the generational culture, and conflict between religions occurs when one race feels superior to the other.
Ethnocentrism occurs when the groups tend to be ethnically centered and hold the belief of superiority of one’s own ethnic group; they believe that their own culture or group is better and more important than others. Ethnocentric individuals judge a so-called out-group only by cultural differences such as behavior, language, religion and customs based on their own values, attitudes and standards.
picture credit: bhmschool Blog
These two maps below give examples of how some people think American see the world and Asia.
picture credit: The Big Picture blog
picture credit: Asiapundits Blog
What is culture?
Culture is everywhere. It is the characteristics of a particular group of people. Culture forms beliefs, perceptions, values, norms and knowledge, as well as attitude, behavior and language. It also determines what is right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable in each society. People from different cultures have different ways to follow the rules and the patterns of behavior that their ancestors have passed down to their society. To put it another way, culture determines who the person is.
Culture is like an iceberg!
When we see an iceberg, the visible portion that we can see above the waterline, is very small compared to the whole. Like an iceberg, the majority of culture lies beneath the surface. People often think that they can examine other cultures from observable characteristics such as languages, arts, foods, music and appearances. However, in reality, there are many cultural components that are invisible and lie below surface.
What is cultural conflict?
Cultural conflict occurs when values, norms, expectations and belief of one culture clash with one another. It also refers to disagreements between people in different cultures caused by misinterpretation of other’s behavior.
- SPACE IN OTHER CULTURE: A Perspective (culturalintelligence1958.wordpress.com)
- Undertsanding Culture (edu208banever.wordpress.com)
So…what is this blog going to talk about?
This blog will focus on conflict that arises from cultural difference and how conflict occurs from the misinterpretation of people in different cultures. The aim of this blog is to give people a sense of awareness of how culture affects our view of the world. Also, I hope that this blog will help the readers have a better understanding of why culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict resolution. Understanding cultural differences is a first step in resolving conflict rationally and effectively. If people understand and are more aware about cultural differences, they will be able to manage or change their perceptions toward others. I think culture plays an important role in conflict. It is another layer that intensifies many conflicts, and at the same time, understanding cultural differences can mitigate conflict and help people with different cultures to live happily together in a multicultural society. The content in the blog will be drawn from books, academic papers, articles, pictures, videos and more that describe how conflict arises from cultural differences and why culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict resolution.
As I am Thai, so I will also discuss about Thai culture, including how words, gestures or social context from different cultures could cause a conflict.
Any suggestions about how to make this blog more effective are very welcomed and appreciated.