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ERIC Number: EJ1042079
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 18
ISSN: ISSN-0092-055X
Learning to Interpret Cultural Meaning through an Etic Description of a Familiar Culture
Miller, Elizabeth
Teaching Sociology, v42 n4 p298-302 Oct 2014
Undergraduate students often have trouble interpreting cultures other than that with which they are familiar in a way that takes into account the symbols and meanings that explain behaviors, objects, and ideologies. Instead, many fall into the trap of making ethnocentric assumptions and coming to conclusions that are informed by their own cultural perspectives. This in-class active learning exercise makes the familiar strange, using Horace Miner's well-known 1956 essay "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" to introduce students to an etic, cultural outsider-like description of American culture. Using short excerpts from Miner's article, students draw pictures of Miner's descriptions, producing a wide variety of interpretations. This activity demonstrates that when students overlook or misunderstand cultural meaning, they can come to myriad inaccurate depictions and conclusions about social life and behavior. It therefore reinforces the importance of developing an emic understanding of cultures, rather than accepting social phenomena at face value.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A