The principle of cultural relativism is fundamental in anthropology, and is something we have considered throughout the entire semester as we surveyed many anthropological disciplines. It allows us to understand specific cultural ideologies without a biased mindset. This concept is perhaps the most important facet of anthropology I’ve learned in this course, and I have already had plenty of opportunities to engage with it outside of the classroom. My post-grad job search is certainly one experience that comes to mind.
A couple weeks ago, I had my first interview with this startup software company in Boston. The woman I spoke with encouraged me to look at their company blog, to get a better understanding of the work they do and the culture they have within the office. While I got a better understanding of their company culture through engaging with their online content, nothing I could’ve read online compared to what I experienced while visiting their office. I walked into the office and noticed a completely open floor plan, with natural light pouring in from the enormous windows on the far wall. I noticed dogs walking around and greeting employees at knee height as they worked at their standing desks. During my interview I was sitting across from the GM who threw his heels up on the table and as he pet a small black dog on his lap, he asked me “So, why are you awesome?”
The next week, I went back to the office to present on a challenge they sent me over email. When I started setting up my computer to set up the powerpoint I created for my interview, I asked them for their WiFi password. “it’s tantric mist, with a capital T.”
What the hell does that mean? From a culturally relative perspective, I have no clue at, but I know I would be thrilled to engage in some participant observation by working with this company. I think the concept of cultural relativism helps me embrace uncertainty – something that will be incredibly helpful after President Hanno hands me my diploma in the dimple next week. Fingers crossed I can land this gig!