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ERIC Number: ED440755
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Apr
Pages: 19
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
A Cultural Epistemology of Success: Perspectives from within Three Cambodian Families.
Canniff, Julie G.
Noting that success defines the American identity, this ethnographic case study examined the dynamics of culture, spirituality, and success in the lives of three generations of three Cambodian families. The study pursued three research objectives: (1) to challenge the dominance of quantitative measures to judge refugee students' academic success; (2) to expand understanding of the role of grandparents and community elders in modeling expectations of success; and (3) to illuminate the power of spiritual belief systems to inspire perceptions of success not part of normative culture. Participating in the 3-year study were 3 families comprising 28 people from the Cambodian refugee community in an eastern metropolitan area. Data were collected by means of participant observations and interviews. Categories of success were derived from crafted profiles. All participants read their profiles to improve interpretive validity. The findings illustrate that Khmer grandparents convey a cultural model to grandchildren emphasizing a Theravada Buddhist epistemology, focusing on living in the present, balancing wisdom with compassion, and finding one's own path or "karma." Parents varied in their degree of Americanization and in their perceptions of success. Although parents hold firm to the concept of karma, they have added American concepts such as equal opportunity, higher education, and secure middle-class jobs. The most important criteria for a successful life continues to be maintenance of the family bond. The adolescents are cognizant of the actions which bring merit to them and their families and strive to meet those expectations. Findings pose implications for education related to religious pluralism. (Contains 22 references.) (KB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A