In a diverse multi-cultural society, cultural conflicts between individuals that represent different backgrounds might occur frequently. The differences in the cultural background might be attributed to the distinctions in age, gender, race, ethnicity, or nationality. The inability of individuals to understand each other’s worldviews or behaviors due to the inherent cultural paradigms leads to a collision. The analysis of and reflection on the instances of such conflict might be beneficial for individuals living in diverse social environments. Indeed, they contribute to the capability of people to acknowledge the uniqueness of each cultural background and seek ways to find common grounds for relationship building. In this paper, an observed example of a cultural conflict will be described and reflected on with the aim of finding educational implications for the future.
The cultural conflict that I witnessed occurred one year ago between my friend and her classmate. My friend is an Asian American female, and her classmate is a White American female; they are of the same age and attend the same class. However, my friend has been brought up in a cultural environment that cherishes her Asian roots. As we were sitting together in the park, the two girls started to discuss their planned work on a group research project. They could not agree on the approach of task delegation because my friend wanted to do all the tasks together, while her classmate insisted on separating the tasks so that each participant could complete the assigned part individually. The White American girl spoke in an elevated voice, openly declaring her unwillingness to comply with my friend’s offer of collective work, while my friend tried to explain her position calmly but not assertively enough. They could not reach an agreement for a long time; ultimately, the classmate representing the White American background persuaded my friend to divide the tasks and work independently.
When reflecting on this experience, I might note that as a witness, I was able to see the conflict from a relatively objective perspective. Indeed, since I was not involved in the conflict directly, my position was not biased, and I was able to recognize the particularities of each of the participants in the dispute. When analyzing this situation, I understood that the differences in their vision of the work on the project and their eagerness to pursue each girl’s vision were influenced by their cultural background. Indeed, they represented American individualist culture and Asian collectivist culture. Moreover, the White American vividly demonstrated assertiveness, which “typically connotes the promotion of individual self-interest and self-expression; therefore, assertiveness inherently is consistent with individualistic cultural values” (Pham et al. 6). For that matter, when seeking a resolution to such conflicts, one should seek “ways to establish dialogue between cultural groups for the purposes of fostering greater cohesion” (Marginean et al. 366). Thus, the girls should have communicated their reasoning with respect to their cultural backgrounds to avoid conflict.
In conclusion, the description and reflection on the observed cultural conflict have been valuable lessons learned for my future management of intercultural tensions. The situation I observed, and the reflection and analysis have helped me learn a lesson for the future. Indeed, if I encounter an individual with an opposite perspective on some important issue or merely a different worldview influenced by their background, I will not resist a dialogue or eliminate the opportunity for communication. Instead, I will try to find common features between our cultures to concentrate on them as the mutual basis for fruitful communication. In addition, I will approach the concept of multi-cultural society from the perspective of its contribution to diversity as a positive attribute of the contemporary world. The understanding and respect for the differences between cultures will help me build meaningful communicative links with the representatives of other backgrounds without conflict.
Marginean, Diana, et al. “Constructing Intercultural Selves: Bridging Cultural Conflict through Dialectical Engagement.” Psychological Studies, vol. 64, no. 3, 2019, pp. 365-375.
Pham, Savannah, et al. “Intergenerational Cultural Conflict, Assertiveness, and Adjustment among Asian Americans.” Asian American Journal of Psychology, vol. 11, no. 3. 2020, pp. 1-41.