In order to answer your question, we must first have a clear understanding of the definitions of culture, reality, and intergroup relations. Culture is defined as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group” (Merriam Webster). Culture varies from person to person, even...
In order to answer your question, we must first have a clear understanding of the definitions of culture, reality, and intergroup relations. Culture is defined as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group” (Merriam Webster). Culture varies from person to person, even in the same racial or social group, because it is largely dependent on a wide variety of factors including upbringing, location, values, and more. Reality is a person’s perception of what is real or not real. Again, this can vary greatly from person to person and is subjective. Intergroup relations refers to the interaction between groups of people, both positive and negative.
A person’s reality and a person’s culture go hand in hand. For example, an upper-middle-class white woman would most likely have a significantly different culture than an economically disadvantaged minority woman. Let’s consider that both of these women live in New York City. They are walking down the street and see a homeless shelter. The wealthy woman is excited to see the shelter because she donates her money to charity and is happy to see her donations making a difference. The minority woman is happy because she remembers spending time in a shelter as a child with her mother, and she loves her mother. Both women have a positive reaction to the same stimulus.
Now consider that, again, both women are walking down the street and see a police officer. The wealthy woman immediately turns the corner and walks the other way, because she had run-ins with the law in the past. The minority woman continues walking and greets the police officer. She works in the courtroom downtown and has a deep respect for police officers. This time, the women have differing reactions to the same stimulus.
The way that we interact with the world is our reality, and our reality is shaped by our culture. In the second example, the wealthy woman’s reality was that police are intimidating and unkind. The minority woman, whose culture was shaped by different life experience, had a different reality—that she found the police officers to be friendly and respectable.
The important thing to distinguish in this situation is that that neither woman is right or wrong. They are interacting with their realities based on their unique cultures. This is where intergroup relations come into play. The way we interact with other cultures or groups is usually based on our perceptions of the situation, which are shaped by our own culture. This can be based on our personal experiences or the experiences of our culture as a whole. For example, it would stand to reason that a Jewish person might interact with other Jewish people in a different way than they would interact with a Muslim or Christian person. However, because culture is deeply person and unique, this would not always be the case.
The key takeaway is that our culture impacts our reality, no one reality is more valid than another, and we must consider the culture and reality of others when approaching intergroup relations.