For this assignment, your task is to identify a culture to study, preferably one that you are relatively unfamiliar with, and write a brief (750-1,500-word) analysis of that culture.
Some of you may begin with a central question that guides your exploration. For example, you might ask how members of a particular culture see themselves within the larger societal community. Others of you will reach your central research question once you’ve begun your research.
Selecting a Culture or Community
There are many different ways of looking at culture and community. For example, an organization, a company or workplace, a boxing gym, a book club, an industry, a group of welding students, a yoga class, a community arts center, a local church group, an auto repair shop, and a poetry club are all examples of different types of communities that have their own unique cultural characteristics.
New communities are better than familiar ones
There is some debate among experts over whether a person can truly study a community to which they belong. The problem, some argue, with studying your own community or culture is that you are less able to be objective and unbiased when you gather data. So rather than discovering why and how people behave as they do within a certain culture, your involvement with that culture may blind you to new insights. You may end up merely writing what you already know and believe. Try to explore a community (or some aspect of a community) that you don’t know much about but are interested in learning.
*NOTE: Because you may experimenting with this kind of research for the first time, your instructor may allow you to study a community to which you already belong. Be sure to confirm this before proceeding.
Helpful Questions to Narrow the Research Scope
Asking the following questions can help you narrow the scope of your research:
- What specific culture or community will you study?
- Why is the culture worth studying?
- What religious, economic, or political forces define the culture?
- How would you describe the environment of the culture?
- What relationships can you define between the culture you are studying and the dominant culture?
- What literature about the culture is available? Do you know any people who used to be members of the culture whom you could interview to help develop a sense of what to look for once you enter the community?
- Do you have a viable way of entering the culture?
- Do you have access to inside written documents, such as correspondence or research studies, that can provide you with additional information?
- What methods will you use to gather facts? Will you, for example, use any questionnaires, interviews, psychological tests?
- What schedule do you plan to follow? How much time do you allow for data collection or for data interpretation, and how much time do you allow for compiling your research and writing your report?
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"Select A Culture." OERCommons.org. [License: CC BY 4.0]