Sample Cultural Studies Paper on Cultural Values

Introduction

Being American means that one is exposed to different cultures and equally different experiences. In America, different factors interact to determine the ease with which a person leads their life the way they would want to. Race, economic background, and gender are just some of the factors that determine the ease with which one can get their voice heard. These factors also interact to determine how well one acquires the opportunities they desire. The concept of white male privilege is quite real in America so that anyone who does not fall in this social bracket finds themselves at a disadvantage. Nonetheless, there are value systems that hold the society together hence creating integration. In this paper, I will discuss these values while adding a discussion of the values I hold, as well as those of my family. I will also demonstrate how the different factors interact to determine ease with which I experience life as an American.

Question 1

Americans value freedom. They value democracy, the ability to air their opinions, however unpopular they may be, unrestricted by any power above them. While there are other values that are equally important to freedom, it is arguable that the right to exercise democratic rights is among the most fundamental cultural values of the United States population. Another fundamental American cultural value is equality (Ralston et al., 1997). In fact, the belief in the importance of equality is embedded in the American Declaration of Independence which states that all people are created equal (Jefferson, 1957). Consequently, the American people treat every individual equally, regardless of status. Thus, etiquette cues that are popular in the East, like bowing during greetings, are not used in the United States. Yet another important value in the United States is directness. The American people value honesty and transparency. Americans avoid conflict by avoiding dishonest dealings (McIntosh, 2004). By embracing honesty, American people also resolve conflicts easily.

My cultural values include a belief in the importance of family and staying true to my religion, that is, Christianity. Hence, most of my principles can be attributed. Christianity offers multiple teachings which have always proved imperative in informing my way of life and the way I treat and interact with other people. Christianity importantly teaches about love and the importance of living a morally upright life. My cultural values are not necessarily aligned with the meaning of Americanism. Though they are similar in the sense that they both uphold honesty, transparency and respect for other people, there are still notable differences across the two cultures. Nonetheless, having been raised in an integrative society, I have learned to strike a balance between the conflicting cultures. This has helped me to be welcoming to people from different cultural backgrounds.

Question 2

My family believes in having a traditional church wedding, which would serve as the commencement of a marriage that should last the lifetime of the couple. Children are considered a gift from God and ought to be brought up in a functional family. In my culture, having children outside wedlock is frowned upon. Thus, people are expected to bear children within the marriage. The man serves the role of the head of the family, while the woman is responsible for taking care of children. Both parents share the responsibility of raising children, guiding them on the right path to follow and correcting them when they go wrong. It is not uncommon, therefore, for the parent to instill discipline on the child whenever it is felt that the child is deviating from the right path (Weis, 2018). My family’s values were transmitted to me through word of mouth. We would convene at my grandfather’s residence where we would be given all the necessary guidance we needed to grow right. Additionally, by reading the Bible, we would get to learn the right path in accordance with my family’s belief system. My family’s culture and tradition is quite different from the dominant American culture.

The American culture respects religious practice, but it does not rely on religious doctrine to function. In fact, most people have deviated from religion and instead rely upon their own interpretations of right and wrong to determine the right path to follow (Johnstone, 2015). Sexuality is a matter of choice for the American culture, while my community only recognizes heterosexuality. The LGBTIQ community is greatly rebuked in my community, as it is believed that being gay is against the teachings of the Bible. An example of the differences between my family’s culture and that of the United States in general is in the way discipline is instilled. Growing up, I knew that I would be punished for wrongdoing by being canned. To-date, I still hold great respect for my parents and would never talk back to them. On the contrary, the American way of life advocates for equality within the family setup. It is common for children to talk back to their parents whenever they feel that the parents are being unreasonable or unwilling to reason out with them. In my culture, this is considered disrespectful and would automatically result in punishment.

Question 3

My cultural values include respect, love, and integrity. These values are derived from my experiences with both cultures. Respect and love are derived from my interactions with my family, as well as my African American community. However, thanks to my interactions with the American society, I have also learned to value integrity. Integrity allows me to be honest in my dealings and to rebuke deceit. Having acquired the teaching of love from my family and community, I have learned to accommodate people, regardless of their backgrounds, race, and sexual orientation. Contrary to my family’s beliefs, I understand that homosexuality is not a choice but an identity one is born with. Some realize that they are homosexual at an early age, while some learn about it later in their lives. I hold the conviction that identifying with homosexuals is not sinful because the Bible preaches love extensively and the right thing to do people who are different from me is to love them, just as I love those that are similar to me. I believe in God and will read the Bible, just as the tradition of my family requires me. This also helps me uphold the values of integrity and respect. These values are aligned with the teachings of the Bible and by reading it occasionally, I always know the right path to follow.

Just like my cultural values share some similarities with my family’s traditional values, they are also similar, to some extent, to the American values. For instance, honesty is a tying theme for both sets of cultural values. Just like Americans value the idea of communicating and behaving honestly, I believe that honesty is a fundamental human quality. Honesty brings about confidence while assuring the different parties involved that people will stay true their word. Integrity is also a shared value in both sets of cultures. Integrity is the value that helps in avoiding corrupt dealings. In the past, I have had the opportunity to cheat and gain wealth. However, because my values of integrity and honesty do not allow me, I chose to do the right thing, which was to talk the truth and salvage my dignity.

Question 4

As a Christian female from the African American community, I have seen gender and race interact to determine the ease with which I express and maintain my cultural values in the United States. These factors also determine the ease with which I lead the quality of life I desire. Being a Christian does not help in my ability to express myself because society is dominated by atheists who are always quick to disregard any point backed by a religious argument. Nonetheless, I have been well prepared by my family to deal with the negativity that I am confronted with, which makes it easy for me to stay true to my beliefs.

Being female, on the other hand, means that I have to confront the challenges of living in a patriarchal society (Sampson, 2018). I am constantly confronted with the inability to get my voice heard because in my society, the voice of white males is most likely to be considered worthy. I have also observed that people have general notions about black females and thus have expectations of what I may want to talk about, without regarding me as an individual with an independent mind. Nonetheless, I have a developed a thick skin and is always willing to express myself regardless of the circumstances I am confronted with.

My ability to lead the life I desire is also influenced by my background as a Christian female from the African American community. I have noted that my background automatically determines the kind of people I can easily interact with beyond a conversational level (McIntosh, 2007). Nonetheless, I feel that I have an easier time than my parents and other members of the family from earlier times who were not as exposed as I am. Their lack of exposure is the reason they tend to have a limited viewpoint on what it means to be a human being, regardless of religion and sexual orientation.

Question 5

I feel that in our current society, class supersedes all other factors in determining a person’s ability to grow and develop as a human being. Being in the upper socioeconomic classes brings about all types of opportunities while exposing an individual to the world better than individuals in lower socioeconomic statuses. For instance, a young person attempting to pursue art (music or performance art) as a profession would be better placed to sell their art better if they hailed from a wealthy family (Rubin & Babbie, 2016). Their parents would likely find it easier to liaise with senior individuals from the profession, thus secure them with the right opportunity. On the other hand, people from an impoverished background would need to rely on their skills to compete with other aspiring artists to secure the opportunity to enjoy the limelight. This may explain why so many talented recording musicians go unnoticed until much later in their careers.

To an extent, race also determines a person’s ability to grow and develop as a human being. Being black means that one will likely be limited in the range of professions they can choose from (Martineau, 2017). This is because peers and parents will rarely encourage a person to pursue professional careers, most of which are believed to be reserved for whites. This weighs down on the young individual aspiring to achieve lifelong goals. Such a person ends up choosing less prestigious careers.

The other salient factors that impact on a person’s ability to develop as a human being is gender. It is a well-known fact that just like being white is a source of privilege, being male is equally advantageous (McIntosh, 2007; King, 2016). All factors constant, being a white and male eases a person’s progress in about all aspects of life. This explains why the history of the nation’s presidency is overrepresented by the white male gender. The same occurs in other aspects of life, whereby being a white male opens up opportunities while being black and female limits life opportunities.

As a social worker, being female and with an African American background is always bound to impact on my ability to serve others. People are always bound to question my qualifications and ability to serve them. The notion that the black community is underprivileged has also led misconception that members from the community is underqualified. Nonetheless, the teachings and experience I have accrued in the past have proved beneficial in helping me to demonstrate my expertise. For instance, regardless of the first impression I create on the people I serve, I am always ready to show professionalism in my conduct, thus proving my critics wrong at all times.

Conclusion

As demonstrated through this discussion, various factors interact to determine the ease with which one directs the course of their lives. Class is among the most salient factors in determining the ease with which one may make career strides. Race and gender are also equally important in determining how easily one can achieve their desired life goals. Nonetheless, I believe that with enough knowledge and exposure, one can use their own understanding of the human community to work their way up the social ladder. By staying true to one’s cultural values while respecting those of the immediate community, it is possible to be influential. This should ease the ability to climb social ladders.

 

 

References

Jefferson, T. (1952). The declaration of independence. Encyclopedia Britannica.

McIntosh, P. (2007). White privilege and male privilege. Race, Ethnicity and Gender: Selected      Readings, 377-385.

Ralston, D. A., Holt, D. H., Terpstra, R. H., & Kai-Cheng, Y. (1997). The impact of natural culture and economic ideology on managerial work values: a study of the United States, Russia, Japan, and China. Journal of international business studies28(1), 177-207.

Weis, L. (2018). Between two worlds: Black students in an urban community college. Routledge.

Sampson, R. J. (2018). Organized for what? Recasting theories of social (dis) organization. In Crime and social organization (pp. 113-128). Routledge.

King, D. K. (2016). Multiple jeopardy, multiple consciousness: The context of a Black feminist ideology. In Race, Gender and Class (pp. 36-57). Routledge.

McIntosh, P. (2004). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. Race, class, and gender in the United States6, 188-192.

Rubin, A., & Babbie, E. R. (2016). Empowerment series: Research methods for social work. Cengage Learning.

Martineau, H. (2017). Society in America. Routledge.

Johnstone, R. L. (2015). Religion in society: A sociology of religion. Routledge