The data was collected using questionnaires, Interviews and observations. The findings were analyses to draw common and contrasting themes. There were themes like Family orientations, career choices, independence- freedom, food habits, aromas, religion, cultural pride, and interaction patterns. The study concluded that individuals are products of cultures and that defined the majority of their behavior. However, there is a part of every individual that is influenced by many other factors like friends, community, education system, life events and the time era that an individual is born in.
The study has limitations of being time bound and being a small sample size. The implication of the study is on making people culturally tolerant. Introduction Recently the world has become a diverse community, due to the availability of mobility and technology. Media, business and Internet have brought the world to an individual’s disposal for exploration. Individual’s like to travel out of their own countries and taste the world around. Nevertheless, the UK education system attracts lot of international students. Nottingham has been one of the key cities that attract a multi-cultural crowd.
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One of the popular accommodations for these students is Cotton Mills in Redford. There are 53 flats with either 6 or 4 bedrooms (Appendix 1) for a reasonable price. The accommodation attracts students from different universities and colleges in Nottingham. The present study will look at three female student living at flat 1 1 1 . The students are from India, England and Ghana, two of the students are in the same age group and are undergraduate students, and the third student is a PhD student who is currently studying at University of Nottingham.
The observer is living in the same flat hence it is easier to access, interview and observe the participants. The research period was four weeks, in this time the participants filled in a questionnaire and also had a face to face recorded interview with the observer. The question for this research is “why do students from different cultural backgrounds, residing in a shared accommodation behave differently? ” The purpose of this study is to understand the individuals and their cultural habits, customs, mutual differences and adjustments (Agar, 2008).
This topic has been chosen because we interact almost every day with people and make our own judgments and prejudices. To avoid such misconceptions it is best to understand the cultural behavior. Main Themes The analytical core of this research was to observe people’s behavior in their natural settings. Therefore, ethnography was used. Ethnography is the science of describing a culture or a group of people (Betterment, 1998). Ethnography has been used by researchers as a method to observe the daily lives of people and routine. It helps the researchers understand an Individual within a cultural context that they come from (Freeman, 1998).
This research paper uses qualitative methodology. To meet this end data was collected using questionnaires, interviews and observation. The research was an objective attempt to understand individuals from different cultures, without bringing personal judgments of the researcher (Barman and Bell, 2011). It only analyses and took notice Of what was seen and heard from the participants. The researcher decided to keep three main focus in the observation settings. First focus was on how participants interactions with each other. Second focus was on individual opinions and understanding of co-existence.
The third and final focus was on Individual habits and styles that each participant carried along (like cooking, eating habits), which were summed to be a reflection of their individual cultures. Hence, the following research question was formulated; “Why do students from different cultural backgrounds, residing in a shared accommodation behave differently? ” There were two major reasons for formulating this question. First, observing culturally diverse group where they live and spend half oftener time would have given enough data.
Second, observing as a non-participating observer in the natural setting would have avoided the chance of getting socially desirable responses from the participants and therefore true picture of the cultures. Ethnographic observation Sample Currently, 261 students live at Cotton Mills and only 87 are home students (Appendix 1). The research population was 53 flats at Cotton Mills, where each flat is shared by 4-6 students (Appendix 1). Flat number 11 1 was the sample for the present study. The flat is occupied by Jessica, Samaritan, Nett and the researcher.
Jessica, is a 20 years old British female, belonging to Ghana community of East London. She is studying child development at Nottingham Trend university (Appendix 2). Samaritan is a 20 years old British female from East London, studying Law at Nottingham Trend University (Appendix 3). Nett is a 28 years old married Indian female, studying PhD in Psychology at the University of Nottingham (Appendix 4). The sample technique was convenient sample. Convenient sample is when samples are picked at the convenience Of the study purpose, instead Of being randomly selected from the population (Crewel, 2009).
The particular sampling technique suited the purpose of the study and therefore was used. The general population of interest in the present study was culturally diverse group of student in Nottingham and the specific population for the present study was a private student’s accommodation called Cotton Mills, where dents from diverse cultural backgrounds live together. Therefore, the present sample of three girls from different cultures living under same roof represent the population of culturally diverse groups in Nottingham. There are two disadvantages of the sample chosen. First, all participants were females.
Second, Samaritan and Jessica were born and bought up in East London (Appendix 2 and 3) though they belong to different cultures. Access As mentioned before, the interviewer lives with the participants in the same flat, therefore it was easy to access the group. Participant’s accessibility for he research was formally obtained by informing them about the nature of the research, what the researcher would attempt to achieve and answering their doubts if they had any. Ethics (explained in Ethics section) were also explained to gain confidence and candid participation of the participants.
Process In the interviews participants were asked the same set of interview questions, not necessarily in same order. Each participant was interviewed individually in the living room, with no other housemate around. The interviews were audio recorded. The questions were about their family background, cultural habits, hat food they cook and their opinions about other playmates. The second method used was questionnaire. Questionnaires were filled by the participants themselves and returned to the observer in private. The questionnaire was anonymous and the questions were about living with others.
The third method used was observation. This involved observing their general behavior and interactions with others. There were three major challenges that were faced during data collection. First challenge was about finding a right and common time to observe all participants at the same time, as they had different timetable. However, the researcher noticed the right time to observe the students was around 7 pm. Second issue was faced when participants were worried about their private conversation being reported in the study (Appendix 15). This was solved by reassuring that no private conversation would be reported in the study.
Third challenge was to keep oneself completely objective while observing. Despite of the challenges, the process of doing qualitative research was worth an experience. Though the study was an assignment of the course, the findings have implications for future research. Future research could help build empirical evidence about laterally diverse groups co-existing with larger sample size. Ethics Ethical Approval was obtained from the Nottingham Business School (NBS) at the start of the research. Ethics Form 03 (Appendix 8) was duly filled and signed by the researcher and the tutor.
The participants were explained about the nature of the study. They were assured about the anonymity and confidentiality of information shared. Each participant signed consent forms for interview (Appendix 9, 10 and 11) and questionnaire (Appendix 12, 13 and 14). The data collected was stored safe and confidential with the researcher. One of the ethical dilemmas faced during the research was when Jessica and Samaritan approached the researcher about not mentioning the conversation that they had while the researcher was observing them (Appendix 15).
The conversations that the two participants had, was interesting from the report perspective as note of these conversations would have brought riches to the data. But mentioning them without participants consent would have been unethical. Therefore, researcher agreed to the fact that she would not bring the detailed content of the conversations but just mention the broad topics hat the two participants talked about. Jessica and Samaritan were fine with the idea. Personal Involvement There were no apparent major changes in the behavior of Individuals because of the presence of observer.
However, subtle interesting observations were gathered related to this. On some occasions individuals got more conscious when they knew that the researcher was observing them. So, there was an effect of observer bring present in the setting, but soon that impact faded away as participants got absorbed in the flow of conversations. Moreover, when participants would realize that the researcher was observing hem, they would involve the researcher less in the conversations and talk more to each other. Analysis The observation took place from the 8th of April until the 6th of May 2013 in Cotton Mills, flat 11 1.
There are three housemates that reside in the flat. Jessica and Samaritan are living in this flat since the beginning of this academic year 201 2, while Nett moved in March 2013. The data was collected at various times and occasions using different methods. There are few common themes that ran across all three participants’ information. However, there were few contrasting themes (Appendix 16) that made the ultra difference more visible. The following section is going to throw light on these themes. Family orientation Jessica as stated earlier comes from Ghanaian Community located in East London.
She is a family person, which was also be observed from the fact that she likes to spend time with her family in London instead of staying in Nottingham at a stretch. She stays in constant touch with her family when she is in Nottingham. She said in a conversation “l like to be around my baby sister” (Appendix 2). Nett, is also attached to her family back in India and therefore she likes to talk to them on Skips every day. Nett likes to talk about her husband, as she misses him a lot (Appendix 4). She intends to finish her PhD and join back her family back in India.
Samaritan, similarly is quite attached to her mother, who lives in East London. She talks to her almost every day and she used to work really hard with a full-time job along with studies, to support herself and her mother (Appendix 3). Careers It was interesting to observe how the personalities of the participants were closely related to the career choices that each one of them had made for themselves (Appendix 16). Jessica appears as very nurturing person which fleets that she is studying Child Development. Similarly, Nett is a very understanding person which reflects Psychology that she is studying.
Samaritan comes across as a very practical and out spoken person which reflects her career choice of studying law. Religion Jessica and Samaritan are Christian while Nett is Hindu. The impact of religion was more evident on Jessica and Nett, than Samaritan. Jessica said in the interview “l go every Sunday with my family to the church” (Appendix 2). Netter’s choice of being a vegetarian is somehow determined by her Hindu religion (Appendix 4). Samaritan mentioned in the interview: “Christianity is my belief but do not practice it” (Appendix 3). Therefore, she appeared less concerned about religion and morality attached to it.
Pride in Culture Jessica embraces all aspects of her Ghana culture with Pride. She admires her mother for making them learn TWIT language and pass on most of the ethnic aspects of the culture, despite of the fact that she and her siblings were born and bought up in United Kingdom (Appendix 2). Nett and Samaritan also feel the same about their cultures. Independence and Freedom All three participants were found to be independence and enjoying their arsenal spaces and freedom. Like in Cantata’s case she does not mind traveling during the night alone in Redford area, which is not a very safe location in Nottingham.
According to her, she has been in the worst area of London and therefore this does not disturb her. Nett on the other hand enjoys her freedom of being able to enjoy different world and culture. Though she said in the interview: “l did not like the British weather when I first moved here” (Appendix 4). But for now she has started appreciating multi- cultural aspect of United Kingdom. Furthermore she said “I like to know more bout different cultures and food in western world and therefore I have started exploring continental food” (Appendix 4).
Adjustment All three participants reported that they get along with all the housemates and socialize with everyone (Appendix and 7). However, it is interesting to observe how housemates adjusted to others moods and habits. Jessica and Nett reported that interactions with Samaritan, depends on her moods. Whenever she was found in bad mood, other housemates avoided talking to her. When Samaritan is in good mood she likes to chat with them. Similarly, Nett said “l find some of Jessica comments a little insensitive and Hereford, I avoid interacting With her to avoid any sort of confrontation” (Appendix 4).
This could be attributed to cultural difference between two of them. According to Landis and Brisling the cultural differences leads to misunderstanding in their clarifications and international behavior of others (Resisting and Turner, 2003). Gestures and non-verbal communication There were distinct gestures that the three participants used which reflected what Boucher talked about different cultures have prominent non-verbal and verbal communications (Resisting and Turner, 2003).
Jessica was loud with ere hand movements whenever she was talking while Samaritan expressed more with her facial expressions and Nett nodded her head very frequently in her conversations (Appendix 16). Cooking All three participants have different eating habits, in terms of food they prefer (Appendix 16). Jessica prefers cooking Ghanaian food that her mother taught. Samaritan does not like spending time cooking and therefore she prefers processed food. Most of the weekends she gets her food from the nearby fast food shops (Appendix 3). Nett is a vegetarian.
She cooks Indian food for herself every day; the side dish is either Indian bread or rice. Aroma During the observations it was interesting to observe different smells of food that each participant cooked or preferred. In relation to Jessica her case it was a prominent smell of Lamb and rice. Cantata’s food smells of processed chicken with some kind of potatoes (Appendix 3). Netter’s food has an overwhelming stench of spices, as that is how food is cooked in her Indian culture (Appendix). Interactions Samaritan and Jessica are usually found interacting more often with each other.
Jessica and Samaritan have many common topics to talk about because they both are almost same age, come from East London and share moon friends (Appendix 15). Nett being a newcomer in the house has less common things with the other two. Moreover she finds it is difficult to understand their accent sometimes. This can be substantiated with Transit subjective culture theory, which explains that people from similar cultures share similar beliefs, attitudes, values, behavior and role perceptions. Therefore, he has defined this group of people interact with each other more frequently (Resisting and Turner, 2003).
Observations and inferences drawn from the data collected about the three housemates clearly show that each individual is different and the culture plays a significant role in which the person becomes into. Each of these individuals have different interests, life style and expectation. Nett wants to become a well-known Clinical Psychologist (Appendix 4), Jessica wants to work and help children (Appendix 2) and Samaritan wants to be a lawyer because of her friend who was victim of knife-crime (Appendix 3).
This indicates that culture does play an important role in defining how an individual carries themselves out or how an individual perceives the world around, but they are also influenced by many other actors like personal life events (death of friend), immediate family life (absence or presence of father figure), college and course they choose for and many more things. This can be substantiated by Brotherliness’s Ecological Systems Theory (Amounts and Juan, 2008). Frontbencher says that individual is a product of ecological system.
When child is born customs of family play important role, but as child grows up other influences start accumulating like schools, friends, community/society and at large the historical era that the child is raised in (Amounts and Juan 2008). So, it is n accumulative effect of many things that an individual goes through and not just culture. Conclusion It can be concluded from the study that culture plays an important role in an individual’s life, affecting every aspect of their identity, personality and overall existence.
The findings of the study have huge significance on maintaining peace around the world. Countries around the world have been involved in territorial fights and war to preserve their cultures. All fights emerge from the sense of insecurities that different cultures have. If we can assure ourselves with the understanding that culture provides a firm foundation to any individual’s existence, no matter where that person lives and how long, it can prevent the ongoing cultural battle. At heart the identity of that person is going to be rooted in the culture.
This directs to an implication of growing forward to create a global world, welcoming every culture for it is uniqueness, without judgments and prejudices. The major limitation of this study was the convenient sample and its small size. Since the present study was time bound, the future researches could look into doing a more systematic, rigorous and larger sample based study to reflect how cultures can co-exist in a peaceful manner. The study has changed the way I look at different cultures, making me realize and understand reasons behind how people behave and encouraging me to reflect on my past interactions with other communities.