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Different people have different values and belief systems along with different cultures. This report will critically examine the cultural autobiographies of my own and one of my friends along with evaluating the impact of intercultural biographies on our personal lives. After completing the questionnaire of cultural autobiography, both the profiles will be then compared and contrasted with the help of using different cultural frameworks. During the comparison, the cultural differences and similarities will be explained between both the autobiographies. The results will be analyzed effectively by using some appropriate cultural theories and relevant frameworks.
Summary of own cultural autobiography
My name is Mariana Zlatinova and I am from Bulgaria. The meaning of my surname is Golden. Geographically, I belong to seaside, Varna Bulgaria. My whole family is from Bulgaria and they never got moved to any other place. There had been the stories of old traditions and history of Bulgaria such as they used to prepare for Kukeri Festival and they welcome spring by wearing red and white coloured Martenitsa. My grandfather was affected by the historical event as he was a soldier in world war. My family members used to speak Bulgarian language during my childhood. I like to read the books of Bulgarian traditions that contain the great knowledge of Bulgarian culture and are based on interesting traditions of Slavic, Thracian and Bulgar (Hammer, 2015).
I belong to the group of White Christian and racism among white Christians is seemed to be higher as compared to those who are not religious. We are said to be religiously affiliated who deny the existence of structural racism. I have never faced or experienced any interpersonal conflict because of my religion, gender, culture or ethnicity. I believe that our gender, culture and ethnicity don't define our future; we are solely responsible for our future. Drawing is my hobby and in my life's journey I have got a question of "why do we exist?" Old historical places such as castles bring energy to me and I am currently in a social middle class group and only aware of the Bulgarian ethnic groups (Cui, 2016). I have never experienced any conflict or issue because of my culture and traditions; therefore, there were no influences of my cultural background over my life and future career.
Summary of my friend's cultural autobiography
My friend's name is Milan Tonsic and she is from Belgrade which is the capital city of Serbia. Her father is from Croatia and mother is ex Yugoslavia. During her childhood, she has learned about Serbian traditions such as celebrating Christmas and the Serbian culture is shaped by centuries where different ethnic groups are merged. There is no historical event that affects her family and in her current domicile, Bulgarian language is spoken.
She has an interest in reading all the books that tell about Serbian traditions such as spending time with family members and no one is allowed to visit the family until the baby gets 40 days old. These cultural traditions of Serbia have positively influenced her as she is able to share all the problems and issues of her with her parents without any fear and she always receive the complete support from her family in moving ahead in her career. She is also a white Christian and she has never been indulged into any kind of interpersonal conflict because of her race, ethnicity or gender. Her hobby is to read historical books and gain the complete knowledge of Serbia history (Hammer, 2015). She also feels that visiting the historical places such as pyramids can help in overcoming the greatest challenges and in enhancing the personal growth. She is only aware about Serbian ethnic groups and she also characterizes herself in the group of social middle class.
Both the cultural autobiographies have been compared and some differences as well as the similarities have been identified after evaluating both the profiles. While comparing my cultural autobiography with my friend's cultural autobiography, I have identified that we have got multiple similarities in terms of our attitude, thinking and behaviour, but differs a lot in our cultural background (Cui, 2016).
To deeply examine the comparisons, I have applied the conflict theory of culture which strongly believes that the material production's social system possess a great impact on the remaining culture (Dziedziewicz et al., 2014). This theory further illustrates that the people struggles in adapting the cultural change that possess less power and lack of ability (Chiu et al., 2013). Based on this view, I have determined a common similarity between me and my friend which includes that we both have the knowledge of only one culture that is of Bulgarian ad Serbian culture, respectively, but we both have a very keen interest in learning and adapting the new culture by reading the historic books. This interest can never let us fail in adapting the new culture or any change in our own culture.
The conflict theory conceptualizes that human interactions can be observed as a continuous process of understanding the actions being performed by other people. It also believes that language can be served as the greatest means for people for representing their views effectively and communicating their representations to other people. I and Milan, both speak the common language i.e. Bulgarian and we both believe that dynamic and fluid culture can be perceived through symbolic interactionism. It completely depends upon a person about how he/ she interpret the meaning and actions and how the interaction can take place by conveying the messages through effective communication (Chiu et al., 2013).
Another similarity between Milan and me is that we both have never faced any cultural conflict due to the reasons of our culture, race, gender and ethnicity. Therefore, we have never gone through the stage of anxiety or uncertainty. This similarity can be supported by the anxiety/ uncertainty management theory which was developed by William B. Gudykunst. The theory believes that based on the level of anxiety or uncertainty, the people communicate in different social and cultural situations (Feng, 2016). It has also been identified that cross-cultural is being encountered between strangers and cultural in-groups. Hence, I and Milan have never lost our anxiety and patience because we have never been in any conflicting situation due to the cultural indifferences and middle social class.
While studying and understanding Hall's cultural theory, I have realized that Milan and me lie or fall within the same category of high context factors. Hall has categorized his theory based on two context cultural factors including high and low context factors. The high context culture involves those people who are able to understand the rules of different cultures. In this category, most of the people take the cultural knowledge and learning for granted and the people may get confused sometimes as they do not able to understand the hidden rules of culture (Feng, 2016). The low context culture involves those people who very rarely take the cultural things for granted and tries to deeply explain different cultures. In this category, very few chances are found of misunderstanding. My friend and I fall under the category of high-context culture as we both keep our messages clear and transparent. We usually follow non-verbal communication and able to understand the inner reactions or thoughts. We also have the strong bonds with our parents and family members and are highly committed towards developing as well as maintaining the long-term relationships. For both of us, relationships are more important than the tasks or career.
I have identified the difference of perceptions between me and Milan because my family's origin is Bulgaria and none of my family members have ever moved to any other place, on the other hand, Milan's parents origin is Croatia. Therefore, I and my parents' perceptions are similar in terms of culture, but Milan's cultural thinking and her parent's cultural thinking differed (Tam et al., 2014). To support this difference, I have applied a standpoint theory which says that the social groups within which people are located powerfully shape the experiences and they know about us such as about our experiences and how do we communicate or interact. This theory states that the reason behind different thinking among different people is the result of cultural expectations (Punteney, 2016). Standpoints of different people are highly influenced by the economic conditions, sexual orientation, race, gender and ethnicity.
I have determined another difference between me and my friend which is of the technique being used by us for effectively responding to the conflicts which arise due to cultural indifferences. A cultural theory of face negotiation has been adopted for understanding this difference which was introduced by Ting Toomey. This theory helps in understanding about how different people possessing different cultural backgrounds are able to manage disagreements. Face reflects self-image while communicating and interacting with people having different backgrounds of culture (Punteney, 2016). In consideration to this theory, I have focused on the fact that I got the energy from visiting historical places and I then become able to manage the cultural disagreements. On the contrary, Milan focuses on reading the historical books to learn and understand about different cultures and understand different cultural opinions of people.
My friend and I, both also differ in terms of our cultural traditions, as I have the knowledge and experiences related to Bulgarian traditions and Milan is attached with Serbian traditions. I have the complete knowledge about Bulgarian traditions such as dancing in a river containing ice on January 6th, waking up before dawn, climbing a mountain at 5000 feet for attending a music festival and celebrating the first morning of summer. Folk music, traditional rituals and national costumes have important places in the lives of the Bulgarians. Serbians, on the other hand, are more focused towards learning and educating themselves about past or historic events of Serb. Appearance and food are important for Serbians, especially during celebrations and festivals. They take pride in their passion and always maintain a standard eye contact while making an important conversation (Liu, 2014).
Therefore, after comparing both the profiles, I came to know that we both have some similarities and differences in understanding the cultural factors and backgrounds. Also, we both deal differently with the cultural differences. Our attitudes and behaviours are also different along with our hobbies as I don't like to read historical books because I find reading a boring task; instead, I desire to learn about culture by visiting the historical places. We have also got the similarity of growing old in the middle class group and therefore have limited needs and desires. We have different hobbies and similar interests in learning and gaining knowledge about different cultures.
It can be concluded that different people have different cultural experiences and backgrounds. This report reflected, analyzed and compared my own cultural autobiography with that of my friend's cultural autobiography. For this purpose, a questionnaire was created and answered along with the identification of their influences on personal lives. After summarizing both the cultural autobiographies, some cultural frameworks, theories or models were used and applied for ensuring the better explanation of similarities and differences between me and Milan
Chiu, C.Y., Lonner, W.J., Matsumoto, D. and Ward, C., 2013. Cross-cultural competence: Theory, research, and application.
Cui, Q., 2016. A study of factors influencing students' intercultural competence. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(3), pp.433-439.
Dziedziewicz, D., Gajda, A. and Karwowski, M., 2014. Developing children's intercultural competence and creativity. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 13, pp.32-42.
Feng, J.B., 2016. Improving intercultural competence in the classroom: A reflective development model. Journal of teaching in international Business, 27(1), pp.4-22.
Hammer, M.R., 2015. The Developmental paradigm for intercultural competence research. International journal of intercultural relations, 48(1), pp.12-13.
Liu, S., 2014. Becoming Intercultural: Exposure to Foreign Cultures and Intercultural Competence. China Media Research, 10(3).
Punteney, K., 2016. Deliberations on the development of an intercultural competence curriculum. Intercultural Education, 27(2), pp.137-150.
Tam, J., Sharma, P. and Kim, N., 2014. Examining the role of attribution and intercultural competence in intercultural service encounters. Journal of services marke
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