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Session 8: Culture and The Physical Environment

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Jessica Lucero

on 4 March 2013

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Transcript of Session 8: Culture and The Physical Environment

Natural environment — the portion of the environment influenced primarily by geological and nonhuman biological forces.

Three features of the natural environment have been found to be particularly influential on emotional states:

water trees sunlight

These features of the natural environment have been found, across cultures, to have positive impact on emotional states.

Ecotherapy - exposure to nature and the outdoors as a component of psychotherapy, as a major agenda for mental health promotion and treatment.
The Natural Environment Focus on the issue of how much control we have over our physical environments and the attempts we make to gain control.

Four concepts are central to the work of control theorists:
Personal Space

Privacy - “selective control of access to the self or to one’s group”.

It appears that people in different cultures use space differently to create privacy. Control Theories Culture and the Physical Environment

Housing and Homeownership Title III requires all public accommodations and services operated by private organizations to be accessible to persons with disabilities.
Title IV requires all intrastate and interstate phone companies to develop telecommunication relay services and devices for persons with speech or hearing impairments to allow them to communicate in a manner similar to that of persons without impairments.
Title V covers technical guidelines for enforcing the ADA. Accessible Environments for Persons With Disabilities Environments, particularly built environments, can be disabling because of their inaccessibility to many persons, including most people with disabilities.

The social model of disability emphasizes the barriers that people with impairments face as they interact with the physical and social world, arguing that disability is a result of the relationship between the individual and the environment .

Social workers need to keep in mind the high prevalence of disabilities among older persons, the fastest growing group in the United States. Accessible Environments
for Persons With Disabilities Place attachment—the process in which people and groups form bonds with places.

Place is defined as a “space that has been given meaning through personal, group, or cultural processes”.

When a strong place attachment develops, the place has become an important part of the self, that we can’t think of who we are without some reference to the place.

When a particular place becomes an important part of our self-identity, this merger of place and self is known as place identity. Place identity can develop where there is strong negative, as well as positive, place attachment.

Place attachment can also play a strong role in group and cultural identity.
Place Attachment Built environment — the portion of the physical environment attributable solely to human effort.

1) Physical designs that encourage social interaction

2) Designs that discourage social interaction
The Built Environment Crowding has been found to have an adverse effect on:
-child development
-blood pressure and -neuroendocrine hormone activity
-poor compliance with mental -health care
-increased incidence of tuberculosis
-aggressive behavior in prison inmates Control Theories Density is the ratio of persons per unit area of a space.

Crowding is the subjective feeling of having too many people around.

Gender differences in response to crowding - women living in crowded homes are more likely to be depressed, while men living in crowded homes demonstrate higher levels of withdrawal and violence. Control Theories Territoriality - the behavior of individuals and small groups as they seek control over physical space . Also used to refer to attempts to control objects, roles, and relationships.

Leads us to mark, or personalize, our territory to signify our “ownership,” and to engage in a variety of behaviors to protect it from invasion.

Classifies our territories as:
public Control Theories Personal Space - known as interpersonal distance, is the physical distance we choose to maintain in interpersonal relationships.

Is not stable, but contracts and expands with changing interpersonal circumstances and with variations in physical settings.

Variations in personal space are also thought to be related to age, gender, attachment style, previous victimization, and culture. Control Theories Negative effect on human behavior:
stimulus overload (too much stimulation)
restricted environmental stimulation (once called stimulus deprivation)

Some stimulation theories focus on the direct, concrete effect of stimulation on behavior.

Others focus on the meanings people construct regarding particular stimuli.
The Relationship Between the Physical Environment and Human Behavior Stimulation theories - focus on the physical environment as a source of sensory information that is essential for human well-being.

Patterns of stimulation influence thinking, feelings, social interaction, and health.

Stimulation varies by:
Amount  intensity
Frequency  duration
number of sources 
The Relationship Between the Physical Environment and Human Behavior Tradition is a process of handing down from one generation to another particular cultural beliefs and practices.

Traditions and customs leave out the experiences, memories, and voices of some group members while highlighting and including others.

Groups hold on to the old ways to protect their worldview about what life means and who they are as a people. Cultural Maintenance,
Change, and Adaptation Social Identity Theory
and Homeownership
Social Identity Theory The term culture of poverty was originally used to bring attention to the way of life developed by poor people to adapt to the difficult circumstances of their lives.

The culture of poverty orientation was used to argue both for and against publicly financed social programs.

Culture of poverty line of reasoning is often used to explain people on welfare, poor single parents, and other problems of inner cities.
A Postmodern View of Culture Ethos - associated more with the emotional or affective and stylistic dimensions of behavior.

Cultural innovation - Culture is not static.

Cultural conflict - the symbols we use can mean one thing to you and something different to others.

Culture - both public and private. It has emotional and cognitive components.

Symbols are a way of communicating private meaning through public or social action. Some Important Culture Concepts Ideology - dominant ideas about the way things are and should work.

Ethnocentrism - Tendency to elevate our own ethnic group and its culture over others.

Cultural symbols - A symbol is something, verbal or nonverbal, that comes to stand for something else.

Worldview - associated with the cognitive domain, what we think about things.
Some Important Culture Concepts Environmental differences interacting with accidents of history have produced three major types of cultures in recent centuries:

1: Traditional culture, or premodern culture, to describe preindustrial societies based on subsistence agriculture.

2: Modern culture characterized by rationality, industrialization, urbanization, and capitalism.

3. Postmodernism is the term many people use to describe contemporary culture.
Changing Ideas about
Culture and Human Behavior -Culture includes both behavior and the material outcomes of that behavior.

-It both constrains and is constrained by nature, biology, social conditions, and other realities of human existence.

-It is expressed through our emotions and thought processes, our motivations, intentions, and meanings as we live out our lives.

-It is through culture that we construct meanings associated with the social and material world.

-History is an ongoing story about the connections among ideas, communities.

-Culture includes multiple levels of traditions, values, and beliefs, as well as social, biological, and natural acts.
The Challenge of Defining Culture -Ideas about culture have changed over time, in step with intellectual, social, economic, and political trends.

-Biological determinism—the attempt to differentiate social behavior on the basis of biological and genetic endowment.

-Thinking in terms of natural, ordained, and inevitable differences based on race reinforces the social tendency to think in terms of “we-ness” and “they-ness,” which often has unfortunate effects.

-It leads to othering, or labeling people who fall outside of your own group as abnormal, inferior, or marginal.
Changing Ideas about Culture
and Human Behavior Session 8 What is problematic about the notion of a "culture of poverty?" (a) individuals are influenced by both personal attributes and group membership,
(b) self-evaluations are influenced by how the individual’s group compares with other groups, and
(c) individuals will favor their own group and possibly discriminate against out-group members. Homeownership Programs For your entertainment... Social identify theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) was originally used to study corporate culture and social identity.
Homeownership may be a representation of self.

Social identity theory attempts to explain how people answer the question of “who am I?” It deals with the concept of social categories – an individual being considered “in group” or “out of group”

Does this behavior, dress, or decision, for example, conform to the social norms of the group in which you seek to belong?

Does the neighborhood you live in reveal your social class, education, or wealth?
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