In the eye of the beholder: Ethnic culture as a lens
Place of Publication
Omari, M. & Paull, M.
School of Business and Law
It is said that ‘diversity is the spice of life’, that is, differences add interest and ‘flavour’, but what if the spice is unpalatable, unfamiliar, hard to reconcile/digest, or just too exotic? Will it still add ‘flavour’ or will it cause discomfort or frustration? Human nature is such that people are comfortable with notions that are known to them; this provides certainty and stability. Differences can often cause unpredictability, and may require some degree of flexibility in being able to see multiple potential perspectives; tolerance, understanding, and eventually acceptance come from the ability to appreciate and reconcile differences.
Ethnic culture (hereafter referred to as culture) is multi-dimensional, and provides a lens through which behaviours are perceived and interpreted. There are many famous and well-used cultural frameworks which compartmentalise value systems, attitudes, and resultant standards of behaviour. Often, stereotypes are used for ease of explanation and categorisation; however, caution must be exercised as diversity can be seen even within a seemingly homogenous group. The same behaviour may also be interpreted and construed differently by diverse groups if the points of reference, core values, and attitudes are not the same: resulting in an ‘eye of the beholder’ perspective.