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GS2010 - Culture - What is it?
Transcript of GS2010 - Culture - What is it?
Thank you for your attention!
-Culture and its traditions are learned through language,
observations, and interactions with others
-Language can be direct like the "dos and donts" they are
taught from their parents.
-Observations can refer to children paying attention to
their surroundings to learned behavior from the media
-Common sets of interaction behaviors also influence cultural traditions
-Culture can be learned unconsciously - such as how much of a distance should humans stand apart when interacting
Cultures are more influenced by outside forces more than ever before.
-These forces include migrants, refugees, terrorrists, tourists, businesses, the media, electronics, political forces, international organizations, etc. (basically globalization)
-Thus, contemporary people are both simultaneously experiencing the local and the global. This is referred to as 'Glocalization'
-People are taking information from global influences and giving it meaning in a local sense
Culture takes the natural biological urges we share with other animals (e.g. hunger, thirst) and teaches us to express them in particular ways.
-North Americans often like cold cereal for breakfast while the English or Japanese (to name a few) enjoy fish for breakfast.
-In traditional Southern Italy the biggest meal of the day is at noon, while in the North America it is typically at dinner.
-Even methods of waste elimination can be different!
Culture is Learned
Culture and Nature
Culture is a neutral term, neither good nor bad, and refers to the broadest conception about the LEARNED knowledge that humans use to fulfill their needs and wants. It refers to the collective historical patterns, values, societal arrangements, manners, ideas, and ways of living that people have used to order their society. It is comprised of all those things we learn as part of growing up including language, religion, beliefs about economic and social relations, political organization and legitimacy, and the thousands of "Do’s and Don'ts" society deems important that we know to become a functioning member of that group.
The kind of culture we will address is not at all the kind of thing one refers to when talking about being a "cultured person" or possessing a taste for modern art, champagne, and opera. Nor is culture the exclusive province of an educated elite.
Cultural isn't easily locatable
National news may not at all fit opinions voiced in
local conversations, but national opinions find their
way into local discourse
Whose images and opinions are these?
What culture do they represent?
Enculturation - the process
by which a child learns his or her culture
Anthropologists increasingly study people in motion, and often
cannot simply rely on 'particular places'. Fieldwork will often
take them to various villages and cities, and even across borders.
Culture is Shared and transmitted across generations even across national boundaries
- This includes Shared memories, goals, objectives, beliefs, values, expectations, and ways of thinking and acting
-Culture is Symbolic- People use symbols to bestow meaning upon a thing or event and to grasp and appreciate such meaning
-A symbol can be both verbal or non-verbal
-What are some examples of each?
Language makes symbolic thought
-'Shoes' and 'Kutsu'
-How many of you have names that
have a meaning?
Non-Verbals Symbols include
flags or holy water in Catholicism
-Cultures are integrated by key economic activities and social patterns.
They train their individual members to share certain personality traits.
A set of core values may integrate each culture and help distinguish it
-For instance, the work ethic, individualism, achievement, and self -
reliance are core values that are different in various cultures.
Three Levels of Culture
1- International Culture - culturally defined groups that extend across national boundaries (e.g. the Catholic Church)
2- National culture- experiences, belief, customs, and values shared by people who have grown up in the same country (e.g.
values related to democracy, American diversity, the freedom of
-Nations share cultural traditions, yet there is much internal diversity with this level of analysis.
-Individuals, families, communities, regions, classes, and other groups within a complex nation have different learning experiences as well as shared ones
3- Subcultures - are the diverse cultural patterns and traditions associated with subgroups in the same country. Homework!
We'll keep discussing it
Why is Culture
To understand where behavior comes from—to understand why people behave the way they do—means learning about values and beliefs. While the behavior of people from another culture may seem strange to you, it probably makes sense to them. The reason any behavior makes sense is simply because it is consistent with what a person believes or holds dear. Conversely, when we say that what someone has done "makes no sense," what we mean is that the action contradicts what we think that person feels or wants.
Going abroad without understanding the likely points of contention across cultures, and why they tend to occur, is a sure recipe for problems. The bad news is that crossing cultural boundaries often produces its share of stress and anxiety. The good news is that overcoming such obstacles makes one wiser and more knowledgeable.
Making mistakes is inevitable. Things are not always what you think they are and the most ordinary interactions may occasionally take on a surreal quality. Why? Because the simplest things matter. Errors might arise from language mistakes in which your word choice in French or Swahili sends your audience into gales of laughter or shocked silence! Or you use the wrong hand (who knew there was a “right hand”?) to pass food at a meal in India and your host looks at you like you just did something really gross. Or you ask an older male acquaintance in Jordan what you think is an innocent question, “How is your wife?” and are surprised by his cold and abrupt response.
A good start towards figuring this all out begins by acknowledging that:
a. they have a culture
b. you have a culture (more on this in Section 1.3)
c. some things in their culture will be similar (or may seem familiar) to yours
d. some things will be different (maybe in ways you can’t even imagine!)
e. one of your main jobs while abroad is to figure out for the new culture:
what those differences are…
where they come from…
what they mean…
and how you are going to respond when conflict or misunderstandings arise.
To engage (someone) in light, casual talk: "He would be . . . chatting up folks from Kansas" (Vanity Fair).
vb (tr, adverb) Brit informal
1. to talk flirtatiously to (a person), esp with the intention of seducing him or her
2. to talk persuasively to (a person), esp with an ulterior motive
1. Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?
2. Apart from being beautiful, what do you do for a living?
3. Shall we talk or continue flirting from a distance?
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1306557/Chat-lines-actually-work-Women-men-reveal-like-flirting-extra-cheese.html#ixzz1jfD84qiH
Location: Antandroy Tribe in Faux Cap, Madagascar
It was a soul-wrenching heat on the southern tip of Madagascar in February, around 115 degrees Fahrenheit. The Antandroy tribal people walk an average of twelve kilometers a day to retrieve water in the arid spiny desert! With my host family, I lay on a sisal mat as still as possible to avoid using too much energy while my sisters prepared the dinner. Whenever I got up to walk to the bathroom, which was a prickly pear cactus of my choice, a five-minute walk from the huts, my face would burn from the relentless western setting sun. When dinner was served and we were all seated around under the shade of the Baobob tree, for some reason my family started screaming amongst themselves in anger and chaos, every once in a while pointing at me. Unable to understand their rapid Malagasy, I was startled and confused, sensing I was definitely the cause of this upset. What had happened? - 21 Female
The Malagasy people, especially the rural tribal people, are very spiritual. They worship their ancestors in various ways, several times a day. The soil that encapsulates the bones of their ancestors is considered sacred. It is taboo to go to the bathroom on the west side of a living area because that is where the souls of the ancestors dwell. I had just walked five minutes to the west (wrong!) side of the huts to go to the bathroom instead of walking five minutes to the east (correct!) side. Essentially, I had relieved myself on their ancestors' souls!. From then on, when I had to go to the bathroom, I was led by the hand of my small host brothers and sisters in the appropriate direction. Fair enough!
The Scottish representative of a student exchange program had identified and recruited host families for 20 US-American students who were arriving in Glasgow for the summer. He had told them how good the students were and that it would be a fun summer for both the students and them.
Mid-way through the summer, he called me in the US to say that the students were so rude that many families were uncomfortable continuing to host them and had expressed their displeasure to the representative. A major problem seemed to be that the students would not say "thank you." I couldn’t understand why this was the case and how this had happened.
The next week, I went to Scotland and was staying with Scottish representative and his wife. I was upstairs when they called up to see if I wanted tea. I casually called down, "No, not right now." When I finally came downstairs, they were both standing with their arms firmly folded saying that I had been very rude. But, they know me as a very kind person, so my rudeness could be forgiven!
With further conversation I discovered that in Glasgow, when tea (and other types of service) is offered, the response should always be, "Thank you, no" or "Thank you, yes." Any other response was considered very rude. This is what they had meant when they said that the US students would not say “Thank you.”
The misunderstanding outlined here is typical of the kind of problems related to language usage than can arise abroad even with the best of intentions on the part of both the host families and the students. The specific problem stems from a common Scottish verbal convention that the US-Americans either ignored or never understood. Although it might seem rather insignificant (at least to the students), when such common courtesy is not followed it can have an emotional and cultural impact far beyond what a US-American might expect. From the students' viewpoint, they had indeed been saying “Thank You” and were being polite in ways that they thought appropriate. From the Scottish perspective, not saying “thank you” before qualifying the answer with a “yes” or “no” was considered both rude and blunt.
No matter where one is going to study, while living abroad one will frequently have the opportunity to accept or decline various kinds of service offers (sometimes literally dozens of times every day). Upon entering a new culture it makes sense to learn what the local conventions are for doing so correctly. Sometimes saying “thank you” is not enough. Not using the right syntax in Scotland and other parts of the U.K. is not, from their perspective, saying “thank you” at all! Find out before you go what these conventions are, because both you and the local people will be happier when you have that knowledge and act upon it. Needless to say, if the local language where you will be studying is not English, the issues become that much more complex and potential for misunderstanding greatly increases.
Social Awareness - Close Talker
Take a minute to write down your own definition on a piece of paper - Finish this statement - Culture is......
Take a few minutes to discuss it with
someone sitting next to you. Groups of 2
What is Culture?
Around the room...
Now combine ideas and
write a group definition
Is culture only a matter of content such as holidays, clothing, films, literature, and food?
Or does it have something to do with a set of attitudes, values, and behaviors?
Language? What about cussing?
What makes a 'bad' word bad? Or why does it become taboo?
Is National News Global, or Local?
List as Many Biological urges as possible that we share with animals?
How have humans learned to express these things in different ways?
More examples of same
gesture/phrase different meanings?
the blending of diverse cultures or traditions
Cultural Hybridity -