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Self-Reflexivity: Body Ritual Among the Nacirema

Self-reflexivity is considered the highest stage of knowledge (Popoveniuc, 2014). Therefore, to understand the peculiarities of research, it is necessary to apply the concept of self-reflexivity. Realizing biases and viewpoints of other cultures will help me to apply cultural relativism to my work.

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When analyzing the sources used for my “Week Three Assignment Worksheet,” I was surprised at how many obstacles to medical treatment can appear due to patients’ cultural peculiarities. Lehman, Fenza, and Hollinger-Smith (2012) emphasize the significance of respect to the patients’ cultural and religious identity. The authors note that without considering these issues, it is impossible to perform healthcare with beneficial outcomes (Lehman et al., 2012). Another striking issue was discussed in the article by Nordström, Coff, Jönsson, Nordenfelt, and Görman (2013). The authors mention that for many patients diet is dictated by their cultural characteristics. Thus, healthcare professionals need to be competent in the requirements of patients who belong to the culture different from the one to which the majority of staff belongs (Nordström et al., 2013). In Mulemi’s (2008) article, the specifications of underprivileged populations’ hospitalization are discussed. The author emphasizes the necessity for understanding the needs and limitations of cancer patients from poor regions (Mulemi, 2008). All three sources discuss the utmost importance of healthcare team’s education about patients’ cultural peculiarities. Mulemi (2008), Lehman et al. (2012), and Nordström et al. (2013) emphasize that without understanding and respect of the patients’ cultural values, healthcare professional will not be able to provide people with necessary support and proper treatment.

I have to admit that I might have some biases concerning cultural practices of cultures different from mine. I need more education about the minorities’ beliefs and approaches to treatment. Expanding my knowledge about other culture’s rituals, diet, and other peculiarities will enable me to become an esteemed professional and provide an appropriate level of care to my patients. So far, my scope of knowledge is not comprehensive enough. For instance, from Lehman et al.’s (2012) article, I learned about specific washing rituals which are considered by some people a part of successful treatment. Since such traditions do not pertain to my culture, I find them peculiar. However, I need to cope with my biases and learn to be an unprejudiced professional who is aware of different cultural backgrounds and ready to support patients in their needs.

When examining my own culture from an etic perspective, I might meet the difficulty of being subjective and disregarding some negative things about it. In acquiring a different culture from an emic perspective, the problem might be in getting socialized with that culture. In his article, Miner (1956) discusses the rituals of the people of Nacirema and helps to understand the peculiarities of taking an outsider’s perspective on one’s own culture.

Therefore, we should remember that while some traditions may seem queer and eccentric to us, it is necessary to try to understand them if we want to align ourselves with our own culture or with a different one.


Lehman, D., Fenza, P., & Hollinger-Smith, L. (2012). Diversity & cultural competency in health care settings. Web.

Miner, H. (1956). Body ritual among the Nacirema. American Anthropologist, 58(3), 503-507.

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Mulemi, B. A. (2008). Patients’ perspectives on hospitalization: Experiences from a cancer ward in Kenya. Anthropology & Medicine, 15(2), 117-131.

Nordström, K., Coff, C., Jönsson, H., Nordenfelt, L., & Görman, U. (2013). Food and health: Individual, cultural, or scientific matters? Genes & Nutrition, 8(4), 357-363.

Popoveniuc, B. (2014). Self reflexivity. The ultimate end of knowledge. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 163, 204-213.

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