In the Final Research Paper, you will examine your own culture from an etic (outsider’s) perspective and another culture from an emic (insider’s) perspective to demonstrate your understanding of cultural relativism and examine misconceptions and ethnocentric beliefs concerning each of these cultures. Keep the distinction between cultural relativism and moral relativism in mind as you write your final paper. Even if you do not personally agree with a cultural practice, demonstrate your understanding of the practice in its cultural context. Avoid opinionated or judgmental language in your paper.
Cultural relativism is the idea that the beliefs and practices of a culture should be understood within the context of that particular culture’s background, history, and current events surrounding it. We should not ethnocentrically impose our own beliefs and opinions, which are products of our own enculturation.
Cultural relativism is not the same as moral relativism, however. As Crapo (2013) notes
We need not, for instance, come to value infanticide in order to understand the roles it may play in peoples’ lives in a society where it is customary. What cultural relativism requires of us is simply that we do not confuse our own feelings about such a custom with understanding it. To do the latter, we must investigate the meanings the custom has for those who practice it and the functions it may fulfill in their society. (section 1.4, “Cultural Differences: Cultural Relativism,” para. 3)
Keep the distinction between cultural relativism and moral relativism in mind as you write your Final Research Paper. Even if you do not personally agree with a cultural practice, demonstrate your understanding of the practice in its cultural context. Avoid opinionated or judgmental language in your paper.
Your Final Research Paper will consist of two main parts, framed by an Introduction and a Conclusion. See the Final Paper Flow Chart for a quick overview of the assignment. See the following instructions for information on each part of the paper.
Begin with an introductory paragraph that has a thesis statement at the end. The introduction should set up your topic, giving a preview and summary of the analysis you will present in the body of the paper. The thesis statement is the last sentence or two of the introduction and states what the main point structuring your paper will be.
Using the article by Miner (1956) and the feedback you received from your instructor on your worksheet in Week Three, describe one aspect of your own culture from an etic perspective. See the appropriate Sections in the Textbook in the List of Topics (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., based on your chosen topic from Week Three, for information on how to approach your paper from an anthropological perspective. You can describe American culture in general, as Miner does, or you can describe an American subculture, such as a specific geographical group (e.g., New Yorkers), a particular ethnicity (e.g., African Americans), or an age-related category of Americans (e.g., millennials).
Use reputable statistics and/or scholarly research to support any factual statements. Do not rely solely on personal experience or opinion.
Refer to the article you chose for Part II of the worksheet assignment in Week Three and describe an aspect of another culture from an emic (insider’s) perspective. You do not have to do research beyond reading your chosen article; however, if you do choose to conduct additional research make sure to use reputable statistics and/or scholarly sources to support any factual statements. Do not rely upon personal experience or opinion.
End with a concluding paragraph that reinforces your thesis. Summarize and tie together your main points for the reader. Provide a brief self-reflexive analysis of what you learned while writing this paper.
The Final Research Paper
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