The Other Cultures in the Investigation and Interviewing Process

Introduction to East European Culture

The East European culture stretches across several countries that fall within the boundaries of Greece, Albania, Russia, Georgia, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, and Kazakhstan. Although the Eastern European culture (EEC) is primarily found within the geographical boundaries of Europe, some of its aspects can also be found in Asia. Geographically, the EEC stretches from Russia to Slovenia. The EEC is not primarily defined by geographical areas because some of the countries that have characteristics of this culture are far apart. The EEC provides a good behavioral study because it presents a rich source of human elements. The EEC has also evolved over a number of centuries and it has mainly been shaped by several global events such as World War I and II, communism, and religious revolutions. The people of the EEC have had well established and functional systems of governance for a very long time. The EEC covers an area with a population of approximately two hundred and thirty million people (Boella 71). In addition, the EEC consists of productive economies that manage to achieve an annual GDP of close to eight hundred billion dollars. Some of the most striking cultural aspects of the EEC include “group collectivism, high power distance, and importance of family” (Sztompka 120). The EEC has gone through a number of strains that have in turn changed some of its aspects including wars and rebellions. Currently, the EEC is going through a strain because most of the region is transitioning from communism to capitalism. Generally, citizens in the EEC are concerned about their future but they have respect for their cultural heritage and familial ties. In addition, a majority of Eastern European citizens are appreciative of charisma and teamwork in leadership. This paper is a study of the EEC and its use in criminology during interrogations.

Overview of the Eastern European Culture

The culture of East Europeans is not uniform. There are several factors that differ within the EEC including religious practices, food, family, and marriage. Nevertheless, the EEC is united by a string of recognizable cultural practices. The EEC has a number of dominant religions including Catholic, Islam, and Orthodox. However, the Orthodox Catholic religion covers a majority of the Eastern European region including Russia, Albania, Greek, and Georgia. It is estimated that the Orthodox Church is the religion of choice for approximately forty-four percent of the EEC’s population. Another thirty-one percent of Eastern Europeans subscribe to Roman Catholic and other factions of Christianity. Islam is also a prevalent religion in Eastern Europe and it is practiced by about sixteen percent of the population (Zernov 33).

The ethnicity of the EEC varies from one region to another. Among the East European countries, Greece is the most ethnically uniform country with about ninety-eight percent of its population being populated by Greeks. On the other hand, a country like Kazakhstan features a diverse ethnic population although it is only made up of three major ethnicities. Consequently, minorities are greatly underrepresented in Eastern Europe. For instance, only three countries feature a sizeable representation of minority populations. Most countries within the EEC have developed into full civilizations through the efforts of uniform ethnicities.

To understand any culture, it is important to understand its historical roots. Eastern Europe has a rich historical background. However, like in other aspects of culture, the historical roots of East European culture vary to some extent. The most dominant historical heritage in Eastern Europe is the Slavic tradition. Most countries in Eastern Europe come from the Slavic heritage including Russia, Poland, and Slovenia. Another set of Eastern European countries belongs to the Turkish heritage. The Turkish heritage is manifested in countries that practice Islam. The Turkish heritage is also greatly intertwined with Mongolian elements. Unlike other European regions, Eastern Europe does not have major Caucasian representation. The only major Caucasian heritage in Eastern Europe is found in Georgia. The most significant historical aspect of Eastern Europe is based on the fact that most of the region has experienced an unstable past. Furthermore, most of the ethnic groups that make up the Eastern European region have been overrun by other tribes in the past. Therefore, the current breed of EEC is formulated through complex interactions with foreign elements (Kusin 339). Some of the greatest historical influences that have shaped the Eastern European culture include the Roman Empire, the invasion of Alexander the Great, the Mongolian Invasion, and the rise of Communism among others.

In most parts of Eastern Europe, extended families were the main units of the society. An extended family would extend over several generations and its property would be owned collectively. The institution of the extended family was mostly evident among the people of Slavic origin. The family unit was governed by common laws that were enforced by a patriarchal head of the family. Currently, most families in the EEC have disintegrated into nuclear families as capitalism advances. Modern families also accommodate inter-ethnic unions and they have fewer children than in traditional times.

Marriage in EEC is largely a social-religious affair. In traditional times, the head of the family would be in charge of facilitating marriage unions with other families. Furthermore, traditional marriages were both matri-local and patri-local in nature. A matri-local arrangement involves a man being adopted into a family that has no sons while a patri-local arrangement involves a bride moving into the husband’s household (Boella 61). The bridegroom would pay for the wedding costs while the bride would be in charge of paying the dowry.

An Exploration of the East European Culture

There are several cultural dimensions in the EEC. These cultural dimensions include but are not limited to power distance, group collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, achievement, communication, and expressiveness. The first major indicator of cultural orientation in Eastern Europe is that the region is a group-oriented society. Most of the citizens value the element of teamwork in most of their activities. The element of teamwork has ensured the survival of communism and its accompanying features. In addition, most people in the EEC work towards improving their respective cultures. There are very few instances of individualist tendencies in the EEC. Nevertheless, countries that are less inclined towards the Slavic heritage tend to be more individualistic in nature.

The power distance in most of the EEC is quite high. This scenario indicates that most Eastern European countries have authoritarian regimes and the element of democracy is not common within this region. Most communist administrations shun democracy within their regimes and this explains the presence of high power distance in Eastern Europe. For example, Russia is one of the few developed countries that have not embraced democracy fully (House 87). Countries like Georgia and Greece have a lower power distances but the difference is not significant.

Risk avoidance among people of the EEC is average. There are conservative considerations among the citizens of the EEC when it comes to embracing risks. The trend of not taking risks is replicated in most countries across Eastern Europe with the exception of Albania, which is less conservative when it comes to risks. This trend indicates that most citizens in the region work towards ‘maintaining’ their prospects. For instance, people in the EEC are not likely to seek credit unless it is for basic needs such as housing and emergencies.

Expressiveness in the EEC rates in the same manner as risk avoidance. People in the EEC are only moderately expressive and in most occasions, they choose to remain neutral. This cultural aspect is repeatedly manifested in global politics where most countries in the region opt to remain neutral during conflicts. Nevertheless, countries like Russia, Hungary, and Greece stand out as regions where levels of assertiveness are above average. The EEC is continuously moving towards high levels of assertiveness because in the last few decades, a country like Russia has shown tremendous improvement in this regard. Assertiveness is closely related to power distance and unless the latter improves, the former will remain average.

Communication scores within the EEC are slightly above average. Consequently, both direct and indirect modes of communication are found in the EEC. Nevertheless, indirect communication within the EEC is more common. Furthermore, social norms in the EEC are valued greatly especially when they apply to one group against another. For example, there are several social norms that apply to women and not to men and vice versa. Furthermore, there are several norms that apply to subjects versus their leaders. The issue of upholding social norms is common in all levels of the EEC. The EEC is an outfit that endeavors to embrace modernity whilst respecting traditions. Consequently, social norms have easily found their way into the modern society.

Eastern European Culture and Criminology

Investigators should be fully aware of the EEC’s factual pointers that apply to criminology. The first and most important aspect of EEC that applies to criminology is the collective aspect of this culture. Most citizens within the EEC like working in groups and they form tight bonds in the process. Consequently, an investigator is likely to deal with gang-related issues where Eastern Europeans are concerned. The gangs might be ordinary in nature but they might also be products of organized crime. When dealing with a gang-related suspect, an investigator’s main goal would be to dismantle the element of collectivism.

On the other hand, power distance is high in EEC and leaders receive unsolicited respect from their juniors. An investigator who is targeting an organization would have a hard time getting subjects to offer information that might incriminate their leader. In addition, leaders expect outmost loyalty from their subjects. Consequently, if an investigator is working towards vilifying a suspect, it is advisable for him/her to work from top-to-bottom and not using the bottom-to-top approach.

The EEC culture is not welcoming to foreign elements. Consequently, an investigator would have a hard time infiltrating a criminal unit or gaining the confidence of an informer with an EEC background. For instance, in some East European societies, un-invited visitors are “first greeted with a handshake or verbal greeting at the outermost doorway or gateway, and will be invited further into the private domestic space depending on the nature of the visit” (Boella 65). Investigators should be aware of all the cultural norms that underline the secretive nature of the EEC. For example, unlike people of other cultures, Eastern Europeans are rarely broken down by threats.

Summary

The EEC is one of the most dominant cultures in the world. The culture has developed as a result of complex interactions with other cultures. This culture mostly appeals to criminologists because it has widespread homogeneous qualities. The EEC is found in the geographical area that spreads from Russia in one end to Slovenia on the other side. The EEC is a vibrant culture that draws its origins from significant historic conflicts and invasions such as the Roman, Mongolian, and Alexander the Great incursions. The most dominant religion in the EEC is the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church while Islam is the least prevalent faith (Zernov 78). Most of the areas that are covered by the EEC approach marriage as a social-religious function that is governed by both religious and social parameters. On the other hand, men are the heads of households in a majority of the EEC. Historically, individuals from the EEC have maintained a healthy relationship with their traditions. When the EEC is examined using Hostefede’s principles, it is clear that this society embraces collectivism and it has a high power distance (Hofstede 18). Moreover, the EEC’s levels of expressiveness remain neutral in most of the region. It is important for investigators to take note of the collective nature of the EEC when they are dealing with criminal elements from this background. In addition, it is paramount for investigators to avoid ignoring the basic social norms that apply to members of the EEC.

Works Cited

Boella, Laura. “Eastern European Societies.” Telos 79.41 (1999): 59-75. Print.

Hofstede, Geert. “Culture and organizations.” International Studies of Management & Organization 8.3 (2000): 15-41. Print.

House, Robert. Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies, New York: Sage publications, 2004. Print.

Kusin, Vladimir V. “An overview of east European reformism.” Europe‐Asia Studies 28.3 (2006): 338-361. Print.

Sztompka, Piotr. “Looking back: The year 1989 as a cultural and civilizational break.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 29.2 (2006): 115-129. Print.

Zernov, Nicolas. The Russian religious renaissance of the twentieth century, New York: Harper & Row, 1963. Print.

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