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Classic Readings in Cultural Anthropology

The process of communication is very complicated but, at the same time, people need to develop effective communication styles to maintain close social relations. In this regard, it is possible to distinguish substantial differences in the communication styles of different people. The difference in the communication style can be determined by different factors, including ethnic origin, cultural background, educational level, professional background, age, and gender. In this regard, differences in the communication style determined by gender are particularly noteworthy because they reveal substantial differences in the communication between men and women, while men tend to “report talk”, whereas women tend to “rapport talk”. The difference in the communication style determined by gender differences influence consistently behavior of people and their relationships.

In this respect, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that men tend to use “report talk” to convey information and self-importance, while women tend to use “rapport talk” to establish intimacy and connection. In actuality, this means that the communication style of men and women differ consistently. Men attempt to show their status and self-importance through their talk, whereas women attempt to establish positive interpersonal relations through talk. As a result, their communication style differs because they have different goals in the course of the communication.

At the same time, men and women are often unaware of existing differences that naturally raise certain miscomprehension and biased attitude of men and women to each other. In fact, men using “report talk” tend to negotiate status through conflict, while women create a sense of community through “rapport” talk, a cooperative, relationship oriented conversation. In such a way, the difference between men and women become very significant as men attempt to dominate to prove their status, whereas women attempt to establish relationships that determines the conversation style they use.

In such a situation, the difference between male and female communication style leads to different models of behavior, which men and women acquire naturally in the course of their personal development under the impact of their communication. They are accustomed to maintain their communication style and style of each other. As a result, men often view “rapport talk” of women as illogical, whereas women perceive “report talk” of men as oriented on men themselves that creates the impression of selfishness. Therefore, men and women may have certain communication gaps caused by the different communication styles they use.

Anthropology and Counterinsurgency

The modern anthropology reveals consistent changes in the development of counterinsurgency in the military context. In fact, the development of the modern society changes consistently the relationships between people and these changes affect not only cultural or political life of the society but also other aspects of the social life. In such a context, the military become vulnerable to the impact of cultural changes to the extent that the modern counterinsurgency should take into consideration not only the military aspects but also cultural ones.

In actuality, the knowledge of one’s enemy and his culture and society may be more important than knowledge of his order of battle. In such a situation, the counterinsurgency should focus not only on the analysis of the military capacity of potential enemies but also on their culture and traditions. The understanding of the enemy culture may be a key toward the success of the counterinsurgency. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the experience of the US in the war in Iraq.

In fact, since the end of the “hot” phase of the war, coalition forces have been fighting a complex war against an enemy they do not understand. The insurgents’ organizational structure is not military, but tribal. Their tactics are not conventional, but asymmetrical. Their weapons are not tanks and fighter planes, but improvised explosive devices (IEDs). They do not abide by the Geneva Conventions, nor do they appear to have any informal rules of engagement. In such a way, Americans have come unprepared to the strategy and tactics used by their enemies because they have a totally different mentality and culture. Therefore, cultural gaps between American soldiers and the local guerillas have proved to be crucial in the failure of the US to maintain peace in Iraq. Obviously, countering the insurgency in Iraq requires cultural and social knowledge of the adversary. Otherwise, the US will be unable to appease the country and the problem and internal conflicts in Iraq will persist.

At the same time, the example of the US counterinsurgency in Iraq reveals the full extent to which cultural knowledge and anthropological studies are important in the modern world. Counterinsurgency cannot be successful if the enemy’s culture remains a sort of terra incognita. Basically, the cultural studies can help to understand better insurgency and to develop effective counter measures to stop or minimize negative effects of the insurgency. On the other hand, the lack of knowledge of culture of the enemy leads to the failure of the military operations.

 

References:

Ferraro, G.P. (2008). Classical Readings in Cultural Anthropology. New York: Wordsworth Publishing.