Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Bitter Irony is Finally Realized. (The Social Contact Theory) By Traci

From the day I was born, I was already at an advantage. I was Caucasian, brought home to the suburbs and raised in an upper class family. My home was in a safe neighborhood, I had the luxury of education opportunities, I was kept safe and secure by my family (away from anyone and anything different) and lived in a beautiful bubble with people just like me until my early twenties. I never knew any different way of living and really did not know very many people who were not like me. Now I understand that these so called advantages have actually put me at a disadvantage in life. At forty years old I am paying the price for the so called advantages of living with privilege. Never having the chance to have social contacts with diverse groups of people has made me less knowledgeable about these groups and people and probably has lead to me having some prejudicial preconceived notions. "A person's beliefs can be modified by that person coming into contact with a category member and subsequently modifying or elaborating the beliefs about the category as a whole" (Schiapp, Gregg, & Hewes, 2005).

The social contact theory "...particularly its principles and the conditions it sees as necessary for reducing prejudice and segregation, contributes important insights to the culturally grounded approach." (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2009, p. 72). I had never given this theory much thought until Dr. Rodenborg asked our class to keep track of all of our social contacts for a few days and make notes about the individuals we encountered. After looking over my three days of contacts with individuals, I was shocked. I only had contact with someone else different from me while I was at my internship or dealing with utilitarian contacts. Outside of those areas, my contact with different types of people were limited. The survey made it apparent that the people whom I shared the most contact were basically just like me. We all had been apart of the elite advantaged group because of our race, social class, educational opportunities, and sexual orientation. Sadly, this sheltered group that I am a member, will always be at the real disadvantage. None of us will have the true understanding of others without attached preconceived notions and stigma.

What this survey showed me was how limited my life is with regard to having diverse people in my life. Did the so called advantaged world that I grew up in really offer me the best life scenarios? The survey assignment enlightened me to the fact that my social contact with different social circles only happens at my internship, truly making me the person with the disadvantage. I have lost out on opportunities to meet people who were not like me throughout my life. These different people could have broadened my life experiences, beliefs, and offered me the chance to learn about others. Isn't it ironic that the world in some ways considers me to be the one with the advantages and yet I feel like those advantages have allowed me to "follow a principle of homophily" and "...develop social bonds with people that look and act like themselves" (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2009, p. 72). All of the advantages that others are envious about, I question about the damage they have caused.

Many of my classmates at Augsburg have a diverse group of friends and seem to have social contacts with different types of people. These people all have an advantage compared to me. They will have cultural knowledge and experience to make them well rounded individuals who are comfortable with diversity. Our classmates in Mexico are having the opportunity to create new social contacts with people in a different country to help strengthen their cultural awareness. I am jealous of these life experiences these people are receiving, and am sad that my only chance to engage in diverse social circles happens on Mondays and Fridays while I am at my internship. Wait, maybe I am wrong, I do need get gas tonight.

Schiapp, E., Gregg, P. B., & Hewes, D. E. (2005). The parasocial contact hypothesis. Commincation Monographs, 72(1), 92-115.

Marsiglia, F. F., & Kulis, S. (2009). Diversity, oppression and change: Culturally grounded social work. Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books, Inc.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What we think, and Why, the topic of Multiculturalism.

What we think, and Why, the topic of Multiculturalism. By Chelsey

Throughout the week, our classes have been discussing numerous definitions that have brought about many shared beliefs and difference of opinions, especially with the topic of multiculturalism.

The simple definition of Multiculturalism is the reality of many unique characteristics of different cultures blending with numerous societies around the world. The cultural exchanges made between societies and nations have revolutionized certain areas in the world. An example that I have experienced was the European influence of Philosophy. In my general college classes, it was recommended that we take a Philosophy class. I found it to be fascinatingly interesting. Also with the multiculturalism implement introduced by the European imperialism these great areas of expertise were established and recognized further: Psychologists, Sociologists, and Historians.

A good example of these cultural exchanges is something simple such as food. America is a prime example of different foods from other cultures. One of my favorite restaurants is Khan’s, which is a Mongolian Barbecue. Minneapolis provides numerous arrays of ethnic restaurants that tempt Americans to think outside the burger and fries box. There is an awesome Turkish restaurant on Snelling near Hamline University called Black Sea I am not the type to try new foods but I was wowed. An interesting thing to learn from our fellow social workers in Cuernavaca would be to hear from them what types of restaurants they have encountered or experienced!

Multiculturalism is not always welcomed or accepted. This has caused certain policies to be put into place around 1970 starting with varied countries and nations. Some examples of these policies include: government support for radio stations, news papers, and television stations in many minority languages. Another policy was the acceptance of religious and traditional dress in society, schools, and militia by other cultures. The education system has made sure to include its own policies on multiculturalism in a way that it “has mandated that the social work curriculum include content on cultural competence.” (Marsiglia, & Kulis, 2009, p. 75). We do this by recognizing and “celebrating the coexistence of multiple cultural identities” (Marsiglia, & Kulis, 2009) in communities and school systems.

How do these policies affect us in America? Does it bother anyone out there to have a few extra channels on your television that you can’t understand? It doesn’t bother me to have a couple extra channels to surf through to get to C.S.I. or my other favorite shows; I just keep in mind that it helps people from a diverse culture to stay in touch with their background.

Does anyone have personal opinions on people whose culture has them wearing certain clothing such as a Hijab in society? I find it interesting, and often wonder why Middle Eastern women wouldn’t want to conform to American society, but I understand that even outside of their country there are rules about women showing their hair. It also makes me wonder how we would be viewed in their country by not donning a Hijab, and the looks that we would receive. In context with certain barriers among cultures, such as languages, I find at times that I have no idea what others are talking about. For example, when I get a manicure it seems that many nail salons are operated by people from Asian cultures. Sometimes I am unable to communicate with the women doing my nails, and at times I can’t understand a question they are asking me and I feel stupid when I keep asking ‘what?’ until I can understand what it is they are asking me.

Are there certain areas or examples in the American or Mexican society that have caused you to take notice? Does this spark any personal opinions and stories from a time in your life?

Work Cited
Marsiglia, F.F., & Kulis, S. (2009). Diversity, oppression, and change. Chicago, Illinois: Lyceum Books, Inc.