Whenever we encounter something that seems strange or different, we will feel some degree of discomfort. How we respond to that feeling is a gauge of how ethnocentric we are about it. Let’s suppose that you are entertaining a business client from France. You take him to a very fine french restaurant where he looks over the menu very carefully, then asks the waiter if he or she, by chance, has cheval available. The waiter shakes his head and explains that it is not served in America. Your client becomes somewhat upset and tells you that a truly fine restaurant would serve “proper” cuisine, and that he was very disappointed with American hospitality so far. He eventually settles for the prime rib, but is ill-tempered for the rest of the evening. The next morning, he leaves for France without consummating the expected business deal. Your boss asks you what happened, and you explain that the client was upset because the restaurant didn’t serve something called cheval. Your boss nearly chokes on his morning coffee and asks, “You mean he actually ordered horse meat?” How much ethnocentrism is at work? Discuss what and how a better understanding of cultural differences in food preferences by all parties could have prevented the unfortunate incident. What was your response to learning that the client wanted horsemeat? What was your response to his anger that he couldn’t get it?Discussion 2Your company is in need of someone to fill a new position. The spot calls for some very specific skills, education, and experience, but you happen to have an old friend who exactly fits the bill. In addition, he has mentioned to you that he feels it is time to make a change and has been contemplating looking for a new job. You give him a call and he says that he is very interested, so you call the head of the department in question and tell him about your friend. The department head is very excited and tells you to have him call for an interview. You do and everything seems fine. Several weeks pass and your friend calls you and asks if you have any idea what happened with the job. He interviewed and everything went well, but he never heard back and just learned that the position had been filled with someone who has no experience and a much different background. You call the department head and relay the question. After some hemming and hawing, the department head makes some vague statement about your friend not being a “good fit.” He was afraid that your friend’s “accent” might make it difficult for him to be understood, and he was concerned about his work ethic since he came from a cultural background that has a more “laidback” work ethic. You hang up and think about it. Your friend is from Jamaica and does have an accent and very relaxed personality, but is certainly not lazy. Then you realize that he is also a minority and that this particular department not only has no minority employees, but never has had one. What do you do? Is the department head being ethnocentric or prejudiced? Do you tell your friend what you were told? Do you call someone higher up and express your concerns? Do you do nothing at all?week 2DQ 1I mentioned in the week’s introduction that culture was a lot like air. It is all around us, but we really don’t pay attention to it unless it is absent or smells odd. The same is true about our culture. We don’t think much about it, and we go through our lives feeling that things are the way they are because that’s the way they ought to be. This week, start sniffing the cultural air around you. What do you learn about our culture? Identify some things that are distinctively “American.” Don’t just use material culture (objects and physical symbols), but include non-material culture such as language, values, ideology, ethics, behaviors, and the like. What is it that makes us distinctive in the world?DQ 2A cellphone company once ran a television ad touting its call reliability, in which a young man is talking to his future father-in-law, who is telling him to address him by his first name and consider him a friend. The young man launches into a series of variations of the first name. Unknown to either party, the call is dropped and the young man does not hear any response from the father. He becomes very nervous and disconcertedly reverts to “Mr.” and “Sir.” The ad’s message is clear: Use our service and this sort of thing won’t happen.Why do you think the ad agency chose this power relationship for its commercial, and is it one to which you can relate??Have you had any kind of similar experience (not necessarily on a cellphone)?week 3DQ 1Let’s start this discussion by sharing public observations. Spend time either walking around or sitting and watching people in a very busy public place. Look for things that you associate with people from race/ethnic, cultural, gender, and social-class backgrounds that are different from your own. Look for the kinds of common interactions or behaviors between different groups and those like your own. For example, do they acknowledge the other’s presence if eye contact happens to occur? Do any behaviors change in the presence of other groups?Consider what you expect to see based on your assumptions and understandings about persons of different backgrounds (how you expect them to dress, walk, talk, interact with each other, interact with others, etc). Make note of those things that catch your attention. Pay special attention to what you don’t see as well nd, share your observations with the class.DQ 2When traveling to other countries for business, it is important to know the male/female roles in each country. Not knowing these roles could cause problems in discussions and negotiations. If you were traveling to Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Brazil, Thailand, the Czech Republic, Russia, or Rwanda, what would you need to know about the traditional male/female roles? Search the Internet for one or more of the above countries to find out about male/female roles. Share your findings with the class.week 4DQ 1Triggers are ethnocentric responses to differences and defensive reactions to ethnocentrism. Any number of things can serve as triggers, but they generally fall into the following categories: voice, appearance, attitude, and behavior. Describe a trigger that you have responded to in the past, even if it was only a fleeting mental thought.DQ 2If we look at the term diversity as different groups, we can include groups such as Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. What are some differences between the Baby Boomer group and the Generation Y group when it comes to the work force? What are some of the major differences between these groups, and how can any obstacles be overcome to create a successful organization?week 5DQ 1Do a Library search for an articles about Robert Merton’s Structural Strain Theory. This theory talks about the kinds of responses that one might expect when the “normal” legitimate means to acquiring the “good” stuff in life is blocked. The block can be deliberate or the result of social structure. What advice would you have for any individual who exhibits these responses?D
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