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Sociology Midterm Essay

1. Can there be any universal human rights? What issues can be raised when trying to assert universal human rights? Who should decide what the universal human rights should be, and what about those who disagree with them? I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as universal human rights. After WWII & the signing of the United Nations’ Declaration of human rights, even though it was signed by most nations, was not necessarily upheld. While our (as in U.S.) basic rights are wholly taken for granted, abuse in other parts of the world spread like wildfire and living conditions deteriorate. According to globalissues.org, human rights conditions have remained unchanged in some areas, and even torture was on the rise.

Even in Western civilization, human rights still remain to be seen. On example would be the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (GLBTQ) community being unable to simply be ‘out’ for fear of being ridiculed, beaten, or worse. This is just from my personal experience; I have many friends that are identify themselves as gay, bisexual or genderqueer. They can’t marry their partners of many years, because in some states they don’t have the right to. Issues that can be raised while trying to assert universal human rights are as follows: Definitely HOW to go about asserting these rights can be an issue in itself.

The manner in which human right are asserted can come under great scrutiny by political groups and hate groups alike. I believe the people of a given country should decide what the universal human rights are, not politicians. Politicians and authority figures do not necessarily know exactly what its citizens want and some seem unwilling to negotiate and come to a happy medium of sorts. There is absolutely potential for an uproar and rioting from those who are unhappyor disagree with these universal human rights. My first reaction would be to tell them that majority rules and they should just deal with it.

2. Give examples of how ethnocentrism functions in a culture. Do you think that ethnocentrism can ever be a good thing? Simply put, Ethnocentrism is the belief held by a culture as being the “right” or “better” culture over others. I never thought of ethnocentrism as a beneficial thing. Even now in 2012, racism still exists. Even reverse racism. Some black people insist that black culture is superior to any other culture. The same goes for whites believing they are the superior race. After all, the KKK still exists. I absolutely do not think ethnocentrism can ever have a posivite outcome. I believe we should all be tolerant of one anothers’ cultural beliefs and values, and that we might be able to learn something valuable from cultures other thsn our own.

3. What are some examples of ethical considerations with which an anthropologist must be concerned? Make up an example of an ethical problem an anthropologist might face in the field. I think some examples of ethical considerations would be considering the ramifications of one’s actions, comments, or lack thereof. Truly, I feel that statement is the best definition. Ethical considerations with which an anthropologist might be concerned – advocacy for the disadvantaged, preservation of historical areas – things of a philanthropic nature, almost. An ethical problem for an anthropologist migh face could be something like trying to save an historical building or structure from being leveled, rallying about it with the locals also trying to save the structure. But where do you draw the line?

4. Imagine you are designing a training course for business people who will be working and securing deals in another country. What are some aspects of culture in general that you may wish to cover? What are some of the cultural differences that can make people uncomfortable when meeting or doing business (this is a general question, and I am looking for general categories here, such as you may find in Chapter 4. If you have specific cultural examples, great!) Cultural aspects I would wish to cover would be the customs and traditions of the indigenous peoples, social etiquette, how to deal with the opposite sex, what is considered rude or unacceptable, and how a visitor can thank their hosts in a respectful manner. Some things that are acceptable in the United States can be disrespectful or a social faux pas in Italy: – Following laws right down to the letter. It is considered by native Italians to be boring if you are a law-abiding citizen 100% of the time. – Getting drunk is considered highly unattractive


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