Culture and the Individual

I made observations in the course of two hours. I choose the location, where I could observe many people at a time and see how parents and children communicate and what they do.

I observed many people but I focused on my attention on parents with children. In this regard, I identified ten subjects for my observation, which were parents with children. There were seven single parents with children and three couples with children. There were five mothers with their children and two fathers with their children among seven single parents I observed. Observed subjects had a different racial and ethnic background. There were six white families, two Hispanics, one African American and one Arab American. I made such assumptions judging from the appearance and clothes of people I observed. Six white families were wearing casual clothes, although five of six were definitely representatives of the middle or upper-middle class judging from the expensive purchases they had made in the course of their shopping and judging from their clothes, which seemed to be quite expensive, although quite casual. One white family was probably representing the low-middle or lower class because of the casual clothes, which the mother and the child wore apparently for a long time. They made just one purchase, which was a special offer at discounted price and the mother always refused to buy items the child was apparently eager to have. Representatives of the middle class made quite expensive purchases, many of which were apparently unplanned and parents bought items, which their children asked. Children were quite persistent and four out of five parents failed to refuse their children to buy at least one item children asked about. Only one father has managed to refuse boldly to buy an item his child asked about but that refusal provoked cries of the child and the father had to spent quite a long time to calm the child down. As for the low-income family, they made just one purchase but the child was always asking to buy something. The child was quite insistent and noisy but the mother could not apparently afford buying the items the child asked about, neither she could calm the child down and they were always arguing.

Two African American families belong probably to two different classes because one family belong to a middle class, while another to lower class judging from their clothes and behavior. The middle class family consisted of two parents and a child. They made several purchases, which were quite expensive but they did them as if it were something routine. Parents do not argued much with their children and frequently agreed to buy the items their children asked. As for the low-income family consisting of a mother and a child, their communication was frequently accompanied by arguments because the boy wanted his mother to buy him a toy, which was apparently too expensive for them and the mother told repeatedly that she would never buy this toy. Nevertheless, the boy insisted, until the mother told him that she would tell about his behavior to his father and, after that, the child got quieter.

The Hispanic family belonged to the lower class and they looked being quite poor, while sellers were unwilling to communicate with them and made it redundantly, while the mother and the child did not make any purchase at all and felt being a strangers in the mall because they were uncertain where to go and what to do or say, while the hostile attitude of sellers made them even more embarrassed.

Finally, there was an Arab-American family consisting of both parents and two children. The family belonged to the middle class judging from their appearance and clothes as well as purchases they made in the mall. They had two children, one of whom was a baby yet and the mother held the child on her arms, while the father was making the purchase talking to her wife concerning purchases occasionally, while he paid little attention to requests of children, which were quite a few. In fact, the older child asked only twice to buy some items but the father refused firmly and shortly. The child did not even argue with parents. I noticed that after the second request, the mother told something to the child and he never asked anything else till they left the mall.

Thus, on analyzing my observations I can make a hypothesis that the education of children by their parents depends on their cultural background.

To conduct the further research I developed an interview for parents.

Interview:

1 How many children do you have?

2 Are you married?

3 Have you ever been divorced?

4 What is your ethnicity/race?

5 Do you consider education to be important for your children?

6 What are the major values you would like your children to learn?

7 What requirements do you have to your children, i.e. do you set any rules and what are they?

8 Are you a strict or liberal parent?

9 Do you take the position of your children into consideration, when considering something, especially if it is important for your children?

10 How long do you talk to your children during a day?

 

Works Cited:

Eagleton, T. The Idea of Culture. New York: Willey-Blackwell, 2000.

Lusing, N.W. and J. Koester. Intercultural Competence. New York: Random House, 2006.

Williams, R. Keywords. Oxford University Press, 1985.