Sociology in a Global Perspective
Multiculturalism is the situation whereby multiple groups of divergent cultures exist in a given society rather than in only a mainstream culture (Parekh, 2002, 123). This is a term that is used to describe cultural diversity. A single area containing one society may contain people drawn from different cultural backgrounds. Multiculturalism generally applies to the demographical composition of a particular area. This may be in regards to a specific area or even at the institutional level for example; schools, firms, businesses, cities and even at the national level.
However, on a normative perspective, the term refers to the ideologies and policies that champion this cultural diversity in a given area. In this sense, these are efforts to promote and champion the free express of the various people’s identity without fear or favour in any community. These ideologies are however variant and they differ from one institution to the other and from one nation to the other (John, 2003, 178). This ideology advocates for equal recognition and equal respect to the various cultures that occur in a given society. Multiculturalism entails the diversities in ethnicity as well as religious affiliations of different people.
Two distinctive policies that have been developed as government strategies on multiculturalism have emerged. The first one pertains to the interaction and communication between different cultures. The interactions of cultures provide opportunities for the cultural differences to communicate and interact to create multiculturalism (Parekh, 2002, 57). The second approach is basically entails the diversity and the cultural uniqueness. In this approach, the policy enhances on the avoidance of presenting a given ethnic, religious or cultural community as central.
1. Identify each person’s class, race, and gender
An interview was conducted on two different persons in regards to certain cultural aspects. The two persons were drawn from different communities and societies. This means that the two were from different cultural backgrounds. Their practices, customs, beliefs, religious and ethnic backgrounds are hence different. In a bid to bring out the intended cultural differences, the two were also of different social classes.
Social classes are a set of concepts and specifications that enable the grouping of various persons into a series of hierarchical social categories (Peskin, 2011, 224). In the contemporary world, there exists three social classes which include; the upper class, the middle class and the lower class. This is hence a rank system that enables the grouping of various people in the society according to a set of conditions. The main determinant of discriminant of these social classes is the economic status of an individual. Therefore, a class can be defined a group of people with similar levels of wealth, influence and status.
Various methods are used by sociologists to determine a social class. The first method is the objective method of class determination which sets out to analyze the hard facts. The subjective approach on the other hand sets out to analyze people’s personal view of themselves and their perception towards themselves (Linda, 2010, 117). The reputation method unlike the other two methods is used to analyze critically the individual’s perception of other people.
The lower social class is characterized by poverty, unemployment, homelessness and other suffering of the kind (Jackson, 2010, 79). People of this class majorly suffer from inadequacy of basic commodities such as housing, decent clothing, security and safety, medical care and education. Generally, this class consists of the less privileged and the less fortunate in the society. The middle class on the other hand are more fortunate and are better placed in terms of the living standards than their lower class counterparts. This class consists of the white collar workers. The class can also be subdivided into two levels according to wealth, education, influence and education. The lower middle class consists of the less educated who garner lower incomes such as teachers and secretaries. The upper middle class is made up of highly educated business and professional people with high incomes such as doctors, lawyers, agronomists and chief executive officers.
The upper social class comprises only a very small proportion of the total population (Jackson, 2010, 234). For instance, in the United States of America, the upper class constitute only one to three per cent. Despite their small numbers, they hold a considerable large chunk of the wealth in a given society. The class is also split into two; the lower upper class and the upper-upper social class. The lower upper class consists of the individuals with new money and people who have recently made business and other economically viable ventures. The upper-upper class consists of aristocrats and high society families who have been wealthy and influential in a long period of time. The people in this class are extremely healthy and live of the income that has been generated a number of years that have elapsed. This is the most prestigious class and the most coveted.
Race is a method used to classify human beings into large and very distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious and social affiliation (Parekh, 2002, 354). Despite the human beings belonging to the same species, various distinctions that separate the human being groups are notable. Social conceptions and groupings of races vary over time. These conceptions involve folk taxonomies that bring out the meaning of different individuals based on the perceived traits.
The different races since time immemorial have had differences in the practices, the beliefs and various traits that constitute the culture of a given race. The issue of races in the recent past has raised a lot of controversy due to ideologies and theories by anthropologists and physiologists (John, 2003, 75). Less reference to the race has ensued and the terms such as human populations, peoples, ethnic groups and communities have been on rampant usage rather than race. Arguments have been raised by scientists that race has no biological or genetically basis. Gross morphological features which have been traditionally regarded to as races are determined by non-significant and superficial genetic alleles. There has been no demonstrated link to any characteristics such as intelligence, talent or athletic ability.
The United States of America census officially recognises six groupings in regards to race and ethnicity. The ethnologists have divided human beings into five distinct classes. Although the primitive types are well marked yet from amalgamation, climatic influences and various other causes, the sharp lines are in many cases almost obliterated (Peskin, 2011, 234). The first is the black or Negro race which mainly inhabits the expansive parts of Africa. The second is the red or Indian race; this race occupied the whole of the two Americas and the neighbouring islands. The white or the Caucasian race is the third and comprises of people who have occupied Europe, western Asia, Australia and the greater part of America. The yellow or the Mongolian race is the fourth and dwells in the East Indies, China, Japan and the adjacent islands.
The two interviewed persons were of the male and female gender to ensure the differentiation in the responses during the interview. However, the race and the social class of the interviewed persons were totally different. One of the persons was from the lower middle class while the other was from the lower upper class. One of these respondents, the male was from the Caucasian race and the other respondent in this case a female was a Negro. This was done to ensure that the various responses would bring out clearly and vividly the intercultural differences that exists between various races and ethnic societies. Various matters pertaining to a person’s culture were established from the interview. This aspect includes the beliefs, practices, mode OD dressing, diet behaviours and other cultural matters. During the interview observations were made and recorded.
2. What role has class, race, and gender played in their lives? How do you see these stratifiers as playing a role, even if the interviewee is unaware of it?
It was evidently observed that the social class, race and the gender of each individual played a central role in defining the live of each respondent. A great rift was observed between the two respondents in this regard. Their race, social class and their gender made the whole difference. From their individualistic view of things, everyone was different from the other. This difference was mainly influenced by their cultural affiliations. The one in the middle class was less influential and was quite reserved. She was a religious lady who attributed the wellbeing of her life to a supreme being. She was decently dressed and was seemingly polite according to the doctrines of her religion.
On the contrary, her male counterpart seemed more influential, was outspoken and courageous. His wealth seemed to have instilled a sense of bravery and confidence. In this regard, the social class of each and every person influences their behaviour, lifestyle and hence dictates a lot about one’s life. It determines ones influence in the society one is living in. It also influences by a great deal the personal relationship of an individual in the society. The people in the lowest social class are less influential and have a rough coexistence with the rest of the society (John, 2003, 147). People in the middle class are more influential owing to their relative more wealthy status. They also have a good coexistence with other members of the society. The people in the upper most class are the most influential owing to their aristocratic class. It is from this class that leaders in the society are chosen. The people in this class have a little or no relationship with people in other lower classes. Their major interactions are mainly within their class. We can therefore conclude comprehensively that the social class of an individual has a great influence in their life.
The race according to the interview was also noted to have a great influence in the life of an individual. The two respondents were drawn from different races, that is, the white and the Negro races. The racial and ethnic differences have an insightful effect on the individuals and institutions of each country (Parekh, 2002, 247). Some races come with stature and a feeling of dominance. However, others are a source of disgrace and instil a feeling of subservience in some people. Race and the legacy of perception continue to affect our lives whether in the every day’s interaction with other people or in the life opportunities. The personal perspectives on race reflect a broad spectrum of experiences. There is an emergent ideology that presents the whites as a superior race. The advantages of belonging to the caustic race are invisible unless they are compared with the disadvantages of the non-white races.
Rarely confronted with such matters of race are the white who consider the matters of race as no longer an issue of concern (Parekh, 2002, 368). It is evident that the blacks are more concerned with their races unlike the whites who are less concerned with such matters. Feeling the extra weight of a racial identity has been identified to be common with the Negroes. The gender also seemed to be an issue of interest when it came to life matters. It to some extent affected the confidence and the authority of the respondents.
3. Apply one of the sociological perspectives (structural-functional, social-conflict, or symbolic-interaction) to the individuals’ lives. Why did you choose this particular perspective? How does it explain each person’s life and life choices?
Multiculturalism situation can be comprehended by looking at it through various sociological perspectives. The three perspectives can be categorized into three; social functionalism, social conflict and symbolic interaction. The social functionalistic approach is based on the ideology that, the society is made up of distinct but vital parts, and all of these parts must be filled for the society to function in an upright manner (Jackson, 2010, 234). Social functionalism appreciates the role of multiculturalism in creating a stable and flourishing state. In this perspective, multiculturalism is considered as a tool of conflict management which fosters peace and harmony in a given society by making the minority and the majority communities comfortable with each other.
On the social conflicts perspective multiculturalism can be looked into as in the conflicts that arise between the various societies with different cultural experiences. Conflicts involving minorities are not due to so much cultural differences or their failure of integration. The main mutual means used to show that multiculturalism has failed is to attribute it to be the cause of social conflicts and from more extreme positions to blame the ethnic minorities (Parekh, 2002, 456).
Symbolic interaction has a more engrossed consideration to the specific relations in the society. It is in this view that people define situations based on their own perceptions of multiculturalism. Therefore, the term multiculturalism becomes the basis for interaction between different people with a unlike view point. Dissimilar faces of people intermix to put out a truly multicultural way of life (Linda, 2010, 456). It emphasizes human originality particularly through the use of cyphers and a language that create social order and a cultural connotation.
The functionalistic theory was used in this case to analyse the lives of the respondents. This approach is selected as it brings out clearly the multiculturalism perspectives of the importance of various parts in the society. A society can be regarded to be more important than the sum of its parts. The two individuals are part and parcel of the society and hence play an important role in the society. The two contribute to the stability of the society through various roles they play. The different parts of the society are primarily the institutions of the society (Peskin, 2011, 175). These individuals are part of these institutions and hence can be regarded to as important in making of a complete society.
These parts of the society are interdependent in that the success of one relies on the wellbeing of the other (Parekh, 2002, 396). For instance, the state provides education to the children of the family. The family in turn pays taxes which enable the state to keep the services it renders to the society, the family being part. The family on its side depends on the school to pass knowledge and facilitate the development of their children. As time goes by, the children grow to become law abiding, taxpaying citizens who in turn support the state. If all goes well, the parts of the society must then adapt to recapture a new order, stability and productivity.
Functionalism emphasises on the consensus and order that exists in the society, focussing on the social stability and shared public values. Disorganization in the society which includes defiant behaviour is therefore bound to bring voids in the completeness of any society. When one part of the society fails to work properly, the society becomes dysfunctional since it affects other parts of the system and hence results in social problems (Parekh, 2002, 403).
4. What are some the benefits and limitations to using interview as a research methodology?
Various benefits as well as limitations are associated with using interview as a research methodology. The advantages are as follows. Interviews are useful in investigating issues in an in depth way. It enables the researcher discover the perception of individuals on a given topic and the reasons behind their opinions. It enables more detailed questions to be asked. The respondents own words are recorded, ambiguities can be clarified and incomplete answers followed up (Linda, 2010, 478). Precise and clear wording can be tailored to the respondent and the precise meaning of questions clarified.
On the other hand, interviews have shortcomings which make their use tedious. Interviews can be time consuming as they require setting up, interviewing, transcribing, analysing and feedback reporting. Interviews can be costly as some expenses such as traveling charges and other expenses may be used in the same. Different interviewers may understand and transcribe interviews in different ways. The respondents may be biased in their responses hence soiling the purpose of obtaining factual truths from them (John, 2003, 137).
5. Analyse each person’s components of culture (language, symbols, material objects, and behaviours) and relate them to his/her stratified position in society.
Each of the respondents having been drawn from different cultural backgrounds has different cultural components. This includes the language, the customs, the beliefs, norms and religion. The language of the respondents in each case is used to assign and communicate meaning from one party to the other. The norms are described by the respondents as the humanly created rules for behaviour (Peskin, 2011, 189). The norms are essential for orderly, stable predictable interactions in the society.
Values are anything that the members of a given community attach high esteem (Parekh, 2002, 507). This are the things that people in the society ought to achieve and are considered to be of great worth in the society. They include liberty, success, wealth, fairness and equity, love and forgiveness. The various components of culture of an individual give the person a position in the society. This is mainly after the consideration of the achievement of the various components of an individual’s culture.
Jackson R. (2010). Encyclopaedia of identity. California: Sage.
John R. (2003). Human experience. Albany: state University of New York press.
Linda J. (2010). Sociology. Toronto, Ontario: Prentice Hall Pearson.
Peskin L. and Edmund F. (2011). America and the world: Culture, commerce and conflict. Alabama: JHU press.
Parekh, C. (2002). Rethinking multiculturalism: Cultural diversity and political theory. London: Harvard University press.