Cultural Observation Report
People spend a lot of time observing the world they live in. This curiosity arises from the evolutionary desire to find out as much about the environment as possible. Observation means not only recording data, but also organizing the data to make sense. The main aim of this research paper is to analyze the typical family patterns, traditions, their specific behavior and detailed interview responses using personal observations, experience and scholarly and academic sources. This observation method helps in the process of finding the corresponding information for the research about the family which I have chosen without intruding into their private life too much. I have studied and observed the family. During my observation, I have recorded their thoughts, feeling and ideas openly taking part in the communication process. I also used interview to discover more about their community, cultural functions and other factors contributing to the peculiarities of their community.
Culture has been one of the main issues over the last ten years. Many scientists and economists are considering more and more the effect of culture in the modern life. They are finding answers concerning different ideas of poverty, explicating behavioral models within the low-income class in comparison to the cultural factors. Prudence Carter argues that culture has a great impact on a child’s life, and his/her school achievements will directly depend on his cultural beliefs. After a careful observation of poor people and families of middle class, Annet Lareau found out that adolescents raised in poor families perform worse simply because their caregivers consider natural development to be above the idea of cultivation within the realm of cultural child rearing. Small et al. are also sure that people with low incomes could be less active in the business and other social activities. David Harding based his surveys on the qualitative interview data with adolescents. Two successful businessmen, George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton, suppose that students’ investment in schooling depends on their cultural identity.
Therefore, human society has been one of the most important structures for decades. Family is the part of society. This is a group of people who have strong connections with each other. Spouses, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins and children are the inevitable parts of every family. Family is the principal institution of socialization. Anthropologists have studied different types of families such as a matrifocal structure with a mother and children; conjugal type with a father, mother and their children; and an avuncular family with a grandparent, a brother and children.
The main function of the family is to provide a framework for the reproduction of all family members. Each member has a strong connection with jural rights and moral obligations. Thus, a family also takes care of the enculturation and socialization of children. Christopher Harris supposes that the western conception concerning the family is ambiguous and confused. He remembered the case when all his family came for the funeral and even their neighbors with two children arrived, so that the family and neighbors were as one whole for a day. Harris’s wife supposes that despite all the ideological and legal pressure, a family should be together in all kinds of situations. A large proportion of people do not have an ideal nuclear family due to different reasons, especially because of ideology of the western countries and those who have passed through social legislation.
The Morgans. This family consists of a wife, a husband and two children. They live in a detached house with a big garden in Mexico. We met near their house in the lounge area, where we had spent about 4 hours talking. I have never paid attention to young people during observation, but when I saw the Morgans’ children, I was a bit shocked. The first thing that was strange was that they were too young, but their bodies had piercings and tattoos. I wondered how such small kids could afford to have tattoos. Surely, they have problems with teachers at school because of body art. When I asked Julie, the mother, she answered that their children are free to do everything that they want with their bodies, no matter what other people think about it. Jenny, a sister, who is 13 years old, wore strange clothes of different neon colors and had make-up on her face.
After 2 hours of interviewing, I understood that these clothes and appearances are just the way to show their personalities to parents, classmates, and other people. Children seemed open-minded, acute and very smart. It could be noticed only after some communication with them, because the first impression was inadequate. They were starving for attention. Jack Morgan said that they are new in the city, as they moved four months ago from the southern part of Mexico. He supposes that the children worry about relationships with new people and it is very hard for them to find ways of communication with new friends. Jack got a promotion in the subsidiary company seven months ago, and they had to move to a new place. The mothers agreed with my opinion, and she also supposed that her daughter was trying to be noticed by the other teenagers, especially boys. During the conversation, I felt a deep sadness for her, as I think that she is too young to think about tattoos and professional make-up.
A few hours later, we wanted to change our location and went to the most American place – a Wal-Mart supermarket. Americans there have choose from a big amount of goods and services, so I decided that this place was the best display of an American way of life and can make this family feel at home. Wal-Mart sells all products, from groceries to electronics. There is no need to go to different places, as you can find everything in one place. This noisy crowded place was the one place where we could speak with the family without any barriers and infringements. Thus, I thought that we would also find the answers for my questions for my family.
During the interview, I asked the following questions: Are you a member of this congregation? How long have you been a member? Why did you choose this place? If you had to name one thing that you like about or get from the services, what would it be? After observing the Morgans, I have come to the conclusion that their main aim is to build a strong and a bonded family, where children can have the same rights as their parents. Their family is a small culture inside of a big city, with their own peculiar customs, traditions and values. On the surface, it consists of very naughty teenagers and always busy couple, but when you speak with them in the place where they feel comfortable; it is easy to get in touch and find how varied and interesting their lives are.
During the interview, I had been taking notes whilst making observations, as this is the most commonly used method. Ad Libitum Sampling approach helped to note all interesting moments during the interview. Due to this approach, I could see the strange and unusual behaviors of teenagers. They did not really want to speak about their life in the new country and new community, as they used to live in Mexico, and the adaptation period is very hard for them. It could be seen from the gestures that they were irritated, such as sweating and hands rubbing. Moreover, it was Saturday and they wanted to go out with friends. However, their parents were much more confident and determined, and they were happy to answer all my questions.
A mother is looking for a new job. Previously, she was a teacher in Mexico. She has good recommendations from her previous school and she has sent her CV to four local educational establishments. She told that she wanted to work part-time in order to have enough time for her children. Nevertheless, children try to show their independence, and it is hard for them to prepare a meal or to do some housework. Thus, she has to spend enough time for daily routine to create comfortable atmosphere for the family.
I have chosen this family because it is interesting for me to know more about Mexican immigrants and to find out about the ways of adaptation that are used in this family. I have noticed that this family is very calm and peaceful. They solve their problems peacefully within their family, respect children and their interests, do not insist on ideas that children do not like. I am sure that such approach will help them rear dignified children.
In comparing and contrasting the spirituality beliefs of the two families, the Morgan’s family belonged to the Protestants and the other family that I chose not to mention for privacy purposes believed in Christianity. Religious beliefs between these two families were quite different but the common ground remained that they worshiped one God. They practiced different doctrines owing to their varied cultures and the norms of their religion. Morgan’s family believed that divorcing and later on remarrying was allowed and accepted by their norms while the Christian family prohibited such acts considering it a sinful act and practice of adultery. The Christians argued that having faith and being in good works is key to salvation which was highly opposed by the Protestants who only believe that only faith and faith alone can bring an individual to getting salvaged. The concept of whether or not abortion should be allowed brought a big debate onto the floor. If wondering what happened, then be ready for the surprise. The Christian family disagreed and stood their ground that abortion is prohibited while the Protestants were for the support of abortion .In addition, there is the use of euthanasia which the Protestants supported while the Christians refuted and termed it an act of murder and as such it was sinfully to be administered.
Personal religious beliefs, cultural practices and values
A religious belief is the subscription of faith that on has in life. The religious belief is the plumb line of the culture that one practices and the value system that one has. Personally, I hold reservation on the religious belief in which I make a subscription. What dictates the religious belief that I have is maintaining peace with of humanity and taking care of the benign nature. Therefore, my religious belief stems from the belief that the soul has a supernatural that dictates what is wrong and right in an equal measure. From the two religious beliefs that I practice, my cultural practice is not distinct neither. The guide to the action patters evident in my life is the determination of right and wrong in the society. The value system that I hold includes honesty, caring of nature and granting all autonomy within the confines of the law.
Opinion on the two families
The two families have distinct cultural and religious beliefs. What is, however, common of the two families is that the religious beliefs that they have in life controls their value systems. Though the Morgan’s are open and publicly protestant, the Christian family are shy of their beliefs and reserved. The two families provide one with an instinct on the impact that religious and cultural beliefs have life of an individual. Religion is the main dictate of the value system that one practices. Second there is no distinct cultural system of the two families. Religious subscription doubles up as their culture.
As postulated by the anthropologists, there is only one way to really get in touch with another society, their traditions and culture, which is to live with them for some time. A person should be an active observer and a part of their daily life. Therefore you need to be emotionally and physically involved in the social interaction, including having to eat what they like and taking part in different events that they engage in. The two families interviewed might not have disclosed their whole due to inferiority nature of human and fear of judgment.