Cultural relativism refers to the ethical and moral systems that vary across cultures all over the world. These individual cultures are equally valid, and no single culture should be regarded as superior. This stems from the standard of what is acceptable as good or the things condemned as evil. These standards are generated societal judgments. Therefore, any given opinion on ethics and morality is dependent on the individual’s cultural perspective (Philosophy.org., 2012). Consequently, no one has a claim of having the “best” and “right” ethical or moral position. Cultural relativism propagates tolerance and acceptance of people from different culture systems. The worldly experience of people is mediated via the held knowledge and ideas of the world. This eliminates the possibility of universal experiences that are generalized to all individuals. Cultural relativism refers to the concept of analyzing the values that mould the normal behavior and beliefs which govern the members of a group of people and establish their role in the creation of goals and mannerism. In essence, it is a concept that helps to understand the underlying factors that influence behavior. Moreover, it explains the influence of culture on the social interactions of individuals.
Interactions on campus is a good way to study cross-cultural differences due to the presence of exchange students. Once, I encountered a German exchange student who, though informed on the cultural differences between our countries, still displayed elements of her native country’s culture. In my case, I was surprised at her open nature and the way she provided intricate details of her life that are considered as personal matters by Canadian culture. She also had less awareness of personal space preferring to address others from inside their virtual social boundary. Armed with the material included in this course, I couls apply it during this interaction; it helped me understand the cross-cultural differences between us and that could be termed as acceptable social behavior relative in different countries.
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The exchange student, Vanessa, struck me as a person who was used to social interactions built on values such as trust and openness. In her case, the social cohesion that is experienced in European countries could be the major contributor to her openness. European countries generally avoid conflicts and promote cooperation between people across different countries as is exemplified by the European Union. This new culture teaches the values of openness and trust leading to the increased social contact to reach out to people. The experience itself came from the curiosity over our guest’s open nature and ended up being an unexpected and pleasant exchange of ideas and information. A lesson from this teaches how to interact with people of different cultural backgrounds depending on how their parent country’s culture approaches social interactions. In a managerial position, the interaction experience could be enhanced by understanding employees’ cultural differences and utilizing this information when having information-seeking or brainstorming interactions.
Due to different conditions during the development of civilization, different cultures and therefore, different sets of values exist. As such, it is important for students to learn as much as they can about finding their way around cross-cultural interactions, because sooner or later, they will encounter such situations. The information contained in this course is especially beneficial in this globalized world, and I will refer to its material when approaching cross-cultural social interactions. However, the material provides insight into the morality of decisions and cultural influence on values but does not indicate the roadmap to accepting behavior that is endorsed by my culture but abhorred by another. This information would come in handy, especially considering the possibility of seeking employment in another country.
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