Anthropology’s Ways of Changing One’s Beliefs and Attitudes
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How have your awareness of other cultures and your appreciation of other ways of being human—of believing, behaving, and belonging—changed as a consequence of this course? In what ways have you learned to see your personal beliefs, values, attitudes, and conduct from the perspective of people with different ideas about the way the world works?
Anthropology is a field of study which focuses on every part of human life. It is concerned with everything relating to man: their lifestyle, beliefs, culture, and health among others. Anthropology is categorized into four groups. The first one is socio-cultural anthropology which involves understanding the different cultures that exist. It studies their beliefs, theirgovernments, economic status, and religions among others. It seeks to understand why a community has a particular kind of belief such as the reason as to why a child’s naming ceremony is conducted early in the morning. Several cultures are compared and differences and similarities are brought out for better understanding (Clarke 512).
The second category is linguistic anthropology involves a though investigation of languages which spoken by different societies. These kind of research are done by ethnographers who come up with objectives of a study to guide them. Then the researchers set out to go dig deep into the origin of a language so they find out where and when it was first spoken.
In conducting a study on the spread of English all over the world, the anthropologist may interestingly discuss the aspect of colonialism. However, more mindboggling is the study of native languages. This is because in so doing, one sees how languages knit people together into communities and societies. They give people a sense of belonging and makes people develop ways of life that fit into the group’s. Anthropologists use very old materials such as old newspapers and outdated diaries to do their research work.
The third group of anthroplogy is physical anthropology. It is interested in how humanity adapts to its environment. It is keen to note if they are infected by any diseases or affected by the climate in any other ways. Their interest could be to investigate how well the inhabitants have adapted an environment with very hot and dry climate. This kind of study enables tourists and people who work in foreign lands to match their expectations with the realities that exist. For instance if a company needs to be opened in West Germany, yet there has been a trend of a certain disease killing foreigners, then the move should be thought out critically. Physical anthropology is also interested in how the physiology of human beings fit into their geographical locations. For instance how the rate of metabolism is affected by the winter season (Eriksen 200).
The fourth category of anthropology is archaeology which is more based on the evidence investigated rather than just the data collected. This is why the archaeologists are so keen on collecting materials from the medieval days. Archaeology helps to ascertain whether there are common relations between communities or not. Sometimes languages have similarities in their form and uses. Usually it is because they had the same origins which led to word borrowing across cultures or communities. Archaeology played a great role in establishing facts concerning evolution.The remains of the early man in form of bones were discovered and researched on to ascertain that man existed billions of years ago.
The Implications of Studying Anthropology
Anthropology removes misconstrued understanding of people and gives us completely new views. It helps in understanding their behavior or even misbehavior. It gives an explanation as to why people behave the way they do with an aim of encouraging peaceful coexistence. Therefore anthropology just helps in appreciating the differences in each other. It helps people turn those differences into strengths in dealing with different callibre of individuals. Such an understanding enables employees of an organization to live at peace with each other.
Apart from the work place relations; anthropology also helps in cultivating better relations with customers. Most firms serve customers who are diverse and unique. Customers possess diverse beliefs molded by their different backgrounds. Anthropology helps in finding more accommodative ways of handling their special needs. It enables organizations to give customers a platform to express their interests and assess the feasibility of meeting those needs.
The study of anthropology makes people become more observant than they ever were. It involves being aware of an occurrence and ensuring that the details are picked out. Anthropologists acquire analytical skills which enables them to look deeper into situations. They also become difficult staying around since they keep monitoring people’s actions and keep records of them. Perhaps the most important part of anthropology is its focus on solving problems of humanity through a deep understanding of their beliefs and practices. In anthropology, no occurrence is taken lightly since it is believed that there should be something more than what is seen.This approach makes people to seek more permanent solutions to challenges that they face (Buonforte ).
Concepts of anthropology
In my study of anthropology I have largely interacted with concepts such as: human beliefs, behavior, attitudes, and sense of belonging. These concepts have dramatically changed not only my attitudes towards humanity but also my view of life altogether.
The human beliefs and ways of thinking
In studying anthropology, I have learnt that people have diverse ways of thinking. This can be demonstrated by asking three people the same question and listen to their responses. For instance if three people are asked to say something positive about their countries, the answers would not be the same. One individual may choose to talk about the economy while the other person may decide to talk about access to education. Contrary, the other person may decide to talk about security issues.
The three responses to the question asked reveals that these people think differently. An analysis could be done to assess the reasons why the individuals decided to pick on economy, education, and security respectively. Studying anthropology has made me know that there actually exist factors which influence these responses. Could be that the person who comments on the country’s economy has a background of economic struggles. It may be that the individual has overcome the constraints but has grown to be so keen on economical welfare of the nation.
Undoubtedly, the individual who speaks of security may have lost a close friend in the September 9/11 terrorist attacks. This makes the individual very so keen on security matters. From this example it is quite true that people’s experiences in life influences their behavior and thought patterns. Such underlying factors that affect behavior of people have made me to be less judgmental. I have taught myself to take time assessing possible belief influencers before making conclusions (Anderson 90).
I have also learnt that once attitudes and beliefs have been engraved on people, they seldom discard them. This is what belief perseverance is all about and it has opened up my understanding on why people don’t easily welcome changes. There are people that are too rigid to be changed by anything or anyone. They never even give a chance to people to express their opinions to them as long as they oppose their own views. Such people are resistant to change even when it makes life better or easier for them. It explains why one can walk into an office and find the secretary writing minutes using the typewriter machine.
You wouldn’t understand why the manager would insist on the use of the type writer instead of getting a computer. In as much as the computer would make life easier for them, they still hold to their old practices. However, there are people who are very flexible and adapt to new ideas as fast as they appear. Otherwise if one makes a thorough assessment on the new idea before embracing it then they are safe.
One other discovery that I have made is that individual behavior is mostly a drama. This is to say that people’s behaviors are influenced by what has been instilled in them as acceptable from their childhood. In normal cicumstances people tame their behavir to fit into the society norms. This is done to avoid the punishment that accompanies such behaviour. An individual’s circle of family and the community largely shape their behaviour (Dweck 392).
Establishing a Sense of Belonging
Family: Individuals usually derive their sense of belonging from several groups of people and things in their lives. The first way that they attain a sense of belonging is through their membership by birth or otherwise in a family. The first form of family is the nuclear family. The second form is the extended family which is biggger as it includes both maternal and paternal cousins, aunts, grannies and uncles. A family describes one’s origin and no matter what they go through in life they can count on their families for support. This makes me understand why individuals hold their families very dear. No matter what they always defend their cause and support one another. Whenever there are problems in the family, an ideal family goes through the challenge jointly (Pitonyak 6).
Friendships: The second category of people who give inividuals a sense belonging are friends. The levels of friendships differ: there are acquaintances and close friends. Most people are defined by the kind of company which they keep around them. Over time when one watches closely someone’s behavior and compare it to the person’s friends, there are many similarities. Thus the English saying: “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” The choice of friends is therefore an important practice for individuals. However most people do not put keen attention on the people they welcome into their lives. I have learnt through anthropology to watch friendships keenly.
People’s Social Status in the Society: People are defined by their social status quo. This refers to the level of income which someone has access to. It is the reason why we have issues like the rich will grow richer and the poor become poorer. People associate with their kind of social class and tend to be intimidated by their counterparts. This occurs mostly with the poor whose self-esteem is damaged whenever a rich person intimidates them. Sometimes when they find themselves in the midst of the rich even in an occasion their confidence goes down. This scenario brings an understanding of the gap that usually exists between the effluent and the poor. It explains the reason as to why the poor are uncomfortable with being in the presence of the rich.
Nationality: Being a citizen of a particular nation is incredible. An individual’s country gives them an environment which is calm, peaceful and warm to live in. People become citizens of a nation by being born in the country or being registerd as a citizen afeter meeting some requirements. It is therefore not rare to meet a group of people from a particular nation bundled up together even in an international conference meeting. This is because they can easily share opinions about their nation and other issues freely. There are unique things that identify a nation. For instance, some countries take pride in their natural habitat such as the forests and wild animals.
Professional Networks: Another means by which people gain identity is through their careers. People who work in the same organization are identified by that nation and will often be proud of it. The organizations today work towards developing a culture with which they can be identified with. It is this way of doing things or treating people which becomes their brand. Whenever a company has a good brand then it will attract many customers, leading to higher sales revenue
One’s interests: A sense of belonging is also gained through the different kinds of hobbies and other shared interests which people have. For instance people who love reading books end up forming a group of readers which they get attached to. Once the team is formed, they belong to each other. They may even end up forming economic empowering programmes like SACCOs.
Anthropolgy is a subject which looks unto answering the queries that most people have on humanity issues. It enlightens not only the diverse cultures but also that of other people both locally and internationally. It is with this kind of background and knowledge so far that I qualify the transformation of my personal beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviour. I am now more open to people’s opinions and appreciate their value systems. For example I appreciate why the Japanese take a while to trust strangers. However, once the Japanese cultivate a strong relationship with the person, the relationship ends up being life long.
Anderson, C. A. Belief Perseverance: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology. 2007. Print.
Buonforte, Richard. Anthropology 101 — Social-Cultural Anthropology. 2012. Print.
Clarke, Simon. Culture and Identity :The SAGE handbook of cultural analysis. 2008. Print.
Dweck, Carol S. Can Personality Be Changed?: Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2008 .Print
Eriksen, Thomas H. What Is Anthropology? 2004. Print
Pitonyak, David. The Importance of Belonging. 2014. Print.
Jurmain, Robert., Lynn, Kilgore., and Wenda, Trevathan. Essentials of Physical Anthropology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2011. Print.
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