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Jason Alberto Largo Correa

Importance of Stereotyping in coping with Culture Shock

Human beings occasionally encounter unfamiliar cultures in different contexts. For example, when foreign students arrive in the UK, they adapt new practices in order to fit in. Stereotypes are a part of our lives. They can refer to socio-economic group, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, language, accent and many other factors that distinguish people from one another (Open University 2014, p. 97). In above definition, we may infer how stereotyping can help to understand conceptualisations about others cultures they are not familiar to the other one.

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One positive thing about stereotyping cultures is that it reduce the complexity of the view that there is other countries in the world. For example, in Unit 9 online activity 9.2, there was a German comic in a British National Channel in a humour programme which is about the differences and similarities between Britain and Germany. In that programme we are made to understand how it is common to fall in oversimplification and overgeneralisation when the people have old prejudices connect with historical and geopolitical reasons.

According to Open University (2014, p. 109), a negative example is provided when lack of contact can lead to a simple view of others cultures. In that case, it is said the person is auto-stereotyping about the perceptions of the country he is living. There are many prejudices such as sexism in that example. Additionally, there is hetero-stereotyping. Firstly, communication between members of a cultural group depends on such shared knowledge. In the example, the author criticise the food which Indian community eats, the fact Indians work many hours and always have extended family living with them, excepting the fact that Sri Lanka Community almost does not have strong contact with Indians. The author writes that simply because he does not understand Indian culture and makes simple generalisations to make sense out of their behaviours.

A similar example about negative stereotyping is provided (Open University 2014, p. 113). The example is titled “Consumers Rejects regional accents”. This a negative stereotyping, it's not going to have an exclusion just for the fact some people does not speak “posh”. The society of nowadays should be open and inclusive, not snob.

This way, in all the languages there is “Received pronunciation” (RP), it explains the different accents there are in England and how the RP was associated with power and prestige and what is the accent of choice of many speakers in England in the twenties (Queen Accent). In each language there is a standardization.

There is one of the negatives examples of stereotyping of gender. In all the languages people try to use the gender differentiation among the people. Some professions are linking with some gender. For instance, (Doctor=Male, Nurse=Male, Cleaner= Female). Linguistically marked is common in all languages of the world, influenced by the religion, historical and socio-economic reasons. Some culture are more open-minded in the sense that some aspects and treatment of genders is more neutral. Open University 2014, p. 120), there is valuable advice on how to be impartial in some professions and expressions to avoid not to be sexist.

Open University (2014, p. 103), the second paragraph illustrates how essentialism can be negative stereotyping by viewing characteristics of a group and where it belongs. For example, Western countries think the unique and valid meaning of “civilization” is Europe, the old continent is the “the essence of civilization” and that other continents have done nothing to contribute meaning to human history. This “Eurocentrist Theory” was used until post-colonial period. In the same text, in the paragraph 3, the author gave an example about how the people seeing Spain as “a country with good weather and good beaches” reductionist view about some aspect of the culture, cancelling other main characteristics of the country.

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Open University (2014, p. 12) shows how countries like Canada, Australia and other Western countries adopted different multicultural policies to integrate more the variety of foreign communities. Societies that are more inclusive will be less “stereotyping exclusion” and this nations may win in cultural richness. The text explains how “multiculturalism” could be non-inclusive with the rest of cultural minorities in a nation.

The concept of nation, language and culture are intrinsically-connected in the way people have their own identity, compare how other territories are different to them. The idea of nation can create our sense of belonging in a place with unique characteristics diverse to others. Stereotyping can positively aid in this study when learning ideas about others territories (travelling to others countries); Languages (learning new language); Culture (food, music). These ideas are motivation for discover new things in the life.

In conclusion stereotyping can present a positive or negative idea about a country, culture and nation. It can help in identity formation. The language and how people communicate is really important thing that others use in perceiving us. Stigmatisation through stereotyping can create inequality and some groups in the society may be more powerful and dominant.


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