UNDERSTANDING THE COLLECTIVISM DILEMMA: A QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE ROLE ETHNICITY PLAYS IN PROMOTING THE COLLECTIVIST BEHAVIOUR OF CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM FAMILIES AT MEALTIMES
The findings show how ethnicity plays a significantly role in Sierra Leonean families‟ meal consumption behaviour. It defines the social grouping of families, and demonstrates how they align with the type of language spoken, their cultural beliefs, the region or community they come from and most notably the assumptions they espoused at the dinner table. These factors are symbolic in defining the character of families at mealtimes, but it significance vary from family to family based on their ethnic orientation and the degree of acculturation experienced by them. This paper evaluates the role ethnicity plays in promoting the collectivist behaviour of Christian and Muslim families when they interact socially at mealtimes. This is emblematic of the fact that the cultural behaviour of families is never sacrosanct and inflexible, but changes from time to time based on their level of exposure to either a new environment and/or a new social group. Consequently, this paper highlights the role of ethnicity on the behaviour of Christian and Muslim families (husband and wife) at mealtimes and draw attention to its significance as crucially element of collectivism, particularly in relation to its role in the social interaction between similar and dissimilar gender groups. The authors critically reviewed the role ethnicity has on families‟ meal consumption behaviour and presented a comparative analytical summary of how gender is critical to the meal behaviours of different gender and religious groups. The study evaluated the role ethnicity plays in families‟ meal social interaction behaviour and highlighted factors such as affection, gender differentiation, education and hierarchy, as prime factors of the collectivistic behaviour of families. However, it was evident from the findings that failure to demonstrate emotional ties at mealtimes can debilitate families‟ cohesiveness and display of common strength.