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As a step to understand the history, global development, urbanization, the growth of political ideologies, and extensive human relations, culture is a way to represent patterns of human interactions in a constant state of development and adaptation. People have recognized that in today’s globalized and multicultural world, a conflict of ethnocentrism is practiced. In regard to ethnocentrism, the importance of applied cultural perspective shares an appreciation for cultural diversity in hopes to enforce shared values and norms accepted by the society. Cultivation is changed, adapted, and implemented as a foundation, as a ritual, and as guidance. Values, attitudes, beliefs, and ideas attributed to influences, adaptation, and globalization. Understanding what culture is essential, as humans have the power to share ideas, facing unethical and ethical dilemmas within one’s culture.
There is no term that suggests a way to define culture on its own, as culture itself changes over time, however, culture is a symbol, thus polysemic. A symbol that shows the dynamics of ideal and actual culture. In other words, there is a discrepancy between the realistic image of one’s culture and the actual culture that is portrayed. For example, the decolonization of the European in Canada, sending Aboriginals to residential schools is a way to dehumanize and manifest nationalism as a way to force the ethnocentric government to abandon traditional custom. The actual culture imposes political, economic, and religious beliefs on the indigenous populations. Through history, culture is learned yet unconscious. This is why cultural relativism is important to see the holistic nature of culture, understanding one’s cultural context, reinforcing cultural ideas to share, creating a positive environment. In other words, the prevailing viewpoint argues that individuals should not be judged as it is not our own to judge one’s practices. Through this, Canadian history has evolved positively, as our generation is accepting new shared ideas as equals. In regard to the Canadian culture, the negative marginalization of “normalized” customs, laws, and cultural production, homosexual marriage has been accepted and give equal opportunities for both same-sex marriages to heterosexual marriage. This new law enforcement is imposed to regulate social inequality for same-sex marriages which were ways to set new cultural values in the Canadian society. Through our timeline of generations after generations, culture is embedded in our psyche that we may need to step back and view the world as a whole, in hopes diffuse, innovate, and conduct positive environments for all cultures.
To acquire the knowledge to interpret information of culture, from a holistic viewpoint, Anthologists extensively research culture to have a deeper understanding of one’s cultural values, attitudes, beliefs, and ideas. In my personal experiences, I learned my values as I grow up, unknowingly facing difficult dilemmas living in Canada, whether from work or at school. One of them is a culture shock, which acquired me to use certain skills, and adapts to cultural norms to be “normalized”. In the extent of finding ways to “fit” the societal norms and values, the attitudes associated with one’s culture evaluates a person negatively or positively. In my case, it had a negative outcome. Family honour is demanded at a high value in South Korea and it means more than individual freedom, thoughts, ideas, and career choices. Cohabitation in Korea is not accepted as the norm and having public displays of affection are frowned upon. In comparison to the Canadian societal norm, there is a higher cohabitation rate and many individuals are actively seeking to move out of their parent’s houses after college. Disregarding parent’s beliefs may result in conflict and dishonouring the family in Korea. In contrast to these different attitudes of cohabitation, it is evident that different cultures have different values. People learn our attitudes as we group up and changing them is very difficult which requires a substantial amount of persuasion. Cultural knowledge engages people to have a better understanding of how the culture is practiced, viewed, and implemented. As a result, a role strain was developed in my family, thus, to have substantive rationalization which dominated my cultural understanding in Canada. By this, countercultures can contrast different cultures with different values, manipulating negative ideas, stereotypes, that results in greater conflict.
A similar way to understand the rules of language, people follow the accepted cultural practices by “normalizing” and interpreted as a foundation of rules. These rules are unwritten rules that are culturally accepted, unconsciously, expressed as norms. The behaviour of cultural behaviour. Many cultural norms are set examples of a way to see the appropriate or the inappropriate ways of communication and vastly established by implicit consensus. This is shown when someone may be concerned with what people might think of them based on the cultural norm, which often changes their behaviour to be socially accepted. Norms are ways to function and gives the opportunity to interact with others to get things done from the people with a shared culture. Respectively, norms can be a form of communicating through actions. For instance, waiting for the space to open up on the conveyor belt before placing the divider to separate our groceries from the next person in line, or keeping a distance from people we don’t know, and giving up a seat for an elderly woman on the bus. These norms are adaptive, a schema, and for this very reason, it is ideal to recognize norms outside the box. An anthropologist may suggest that norms are heavily depicted one’s culture and to see a broader perspective on things people deal with everyday influences people to see a greater context outside their norm. Questions that adds perspective is, “Is this normal?”, “Do I believe in this?”, “What are its intentions?”, enhances my perspective which gives them a greater understanding of positive and negative sanctions. For this reason, cultural anthropologists distinguish between ideal behaviour and real behaviour. To go against cultural conventions, it is important to understand if the societal norm is associated with hardship, which people may justify their noncompliance by stretching the meaning of the norm. However, people have the option of doing things differently from what is culturally expected, if ever, these attitudes should see the greater context.
Culture is a shared phenomenon that gives us a reminder that society will have some shared values, beliefs, and ideas; ultimately sharing the same qualities that make up one’s society. In today’s generation, using smartphones is a part of the material culture that most people have, using it in a similar manner. The shared culture is influenced by globalization and it makes people’s lives less complicated. The uncertainty of experiencing an unfamiliar culture is when the culture does not share the same qualities of one’s culture. To a degree of uncertainty, any given society that does not share the same values will need to be interpreted in a comparative approach. For example, in a capitalist economy, such as Canada, one is likely to find a number of subcultural groups in their mainstream culture. Knowing the cultural features with the mainstream, but they retain a certain level of cultural uniqueness that sets them apart. In this regard, pluralistic societies operate in ways that culture is shared.
Another key component to understanding what culture is, that culture is socially learned. For instance, brushing our teeth, eating three meals a day, or knowing when to stop at a red light are norms from our learned responses in our cultural environment. Even there is a range of variation in cultural behaviour, there is a process of learning through enculturation which are ways people learn their culture. This begins the day we are born, from day one, we are exposed to a culture where people have certain things, hold certain values, attitudes, and ideas, that makes us behave in certain ways. To see outside our cultural norm, exposing to different cultures around the world will allow people to observe and interpret our culture. Another way to socially learn culture is to participate. For example, observing how people are behaving at the mall, picking out clothes, lining up, and paying for the selected item. Through this observation, by participating, it helps us understand how people behave. When people are immersed in a different culture, we go through the same process of enculturation. This can be shown when you observe your friends presenting in class. By observing, we can see how they respond to questions, how they dress, how they act in front of the class, etc. The key to learn is through total immersion, being conscious and interpreting human interactions and behaviours.
Even when innovation is consistent with societal needs, there is still no guarantee that it will be culturally accepted. People derive a large part of their sense of identity from their culture, as a symbol. The symbol is one of the key elements that represents something that can be learned, which gives meaning to help people interpret, identify, and classify as a representation of one’s beliefs. Symbols are powerful and are able to move people to act. People act upon symbols as it was seen in wars, as people sacrifice their lives for their flag, or what it represents to the country. Another example is the cross, which has a religious context that many people depend on for spiritual rituals. However, the meanings of these symbols are arbitrary and there is no objective reason why the meanings people give have the meanings they do. In contrast, when these symbolic meanings are arbitrary, it is subjective as people do not know what they mean or how to behave towards them.
Humans adapt to their environment by developing physiological features that equip them to maximize their chances for survival. Culture provides humans with an adaptive advantage over all forms of life. Culture is learned and through this, humans can produce technological solutions to better adapt to the environment much faster and efficiently. Because of the adaptive nature of culture, people are able to live in many previously uninhabitable places, such as deserts, the polar regions, under the sea, and even in outer space. Moreover, culture is adaptive to our everyday life. This is shown when we reflect on our cross-cultural adaptations. However, there are some disadvantages as in Canada, people are enculturated to be competitive and aggressive in their business dealings whereas, in Japan, this can be disadvantageous when dealing with negotiations because their motives are to achieve consensus and promote harmony with one another.
All material things carry often subtle and unconscious meanings for people, acting according to their intentions and meanings. This is shown when the material image that symbolizes that characteristics of a brand, and what people often buy, or do not buy, a branded product because of what it means. For example, there is a comparison of buying clothes from high-end performance leggings such as Lululemon, whereas the Old Navy leggings lacked the same appealing image. When we see cultures as integrated systems, it is interesting to see how a particular cultural trait may fit into the whole system, and dramatically shows sense within the context.
Behaviour patterns are transmitted from generation to generation through the process of learning, sharing ideas, creating a dynamic view of a culture. No culture remains static as it changes over time, dynamically which is often difficult to keep up with the latest electronic communication. Because of this rapid and dramatic increase in our capacity to interact with people in other parts of the world, new innovative ideas are ways to globalize the economy. On the other hand, culture has its own internal and external factors. Although diffusion will rapidly change a culture, it is important to examine both processes and factors of change in greater detail. For example, culture is dynamic as the inventions of eco-friendly plastic will help the economy sustain the environment. In efforts to develop an environmentally friendly environment, a recent change from Starbucks straws to sippy cups reduce their daily production of plastic straws. On the other hand, the Canadian government is enforcing new environmental laws which allow stopping supplying plastics from this rapid change in plastic commodity markets. Most prominent innovators like Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, gains our attention by getting government funds to help the global economy to produce more electric cars. The impact of enforcing new environmental laws around the world is now regulated, and our culture will be adapted to its new impact.
Culture organizes the way that people see the world, including both the natural world and the social world, with the result that “reality” itself is, in a way, a cultural construct.
A fundamental feature of the discipline of cultural anthropology is to know how to approach the “reality” and “illusions”. Culture, essentially, is a way to construct an image, of how people see the world, both natural aspects and social aspects. In the social world, shared values contribute to society. Shared values organize me to see the world in a broader perspective. My shared values were influenced by my friends and family, and I contextualize information to understand why or how things happen. It has its own variations, a social construct, and looking at other cultures gives me the opportunity to find certain common features, such as governing, patterns, lifestyle, family structures, and seeing it from another perspective. The reality of our culture is unconscious. When people internalized their core culture and speak without being conscious of the rules of a language, we go about our daily lives without thinking or awareness of the unarticulated rules that govern our behaviour. On the other hand, there is considerable pressure to conform to the norms of society, although people have the freedom to say no to cultural expectations.
In my personal experience, I took my culture for granted, which lead me to take what I think and do as natural and normal until I experienced another culture. When I first immigrated to Canada at the age of 5, I remember being the only Korean student in my class. I remember opening my lunchbox, the students gathered around my desk yelling, “What is that?”, “That looks nasty!”, which ultimately made me burst into tears and hide under the desk. The next day, I asked my mother to pack my lunch that will make me be “socially accepted” by my Canadian born classmates. I remember my mom teaching me a valuable lesson that I don’t have to bring the same lunch as the other students to “fit” the standards of my classmates of having an “appropriate” lunch, and rather to play with kids that share the same culture as me. Throughout elementary school, I felt that I did not belong in my Korean culture and was ashamed of myself hiding my identity. After elementary school, I was exposed to different cultures and was able to make friends with a variety of friends coming from different cultural backgrounds. I was able to be myself again. Through this experience, the illusion of me believing that I did not belong in my own culture, in efforts to hide my identity was the worst mistake I’ve ever made. I am proud and happy of my own culture, and in fact, when the “reality” hit me, I was able to understand why my classmates were behaving in ways that did not make sense to me at that time. I noticed that I was the one out of two Asian students in my class and my all of my classmates had shared Canadian values with one another. The realization made a great impact on me which made me think that my classmates were behaving that way because of their limited understanding of different cultures and the ability to understand different cultures. Socially, and naturally, my experiences of having a different cultural background gave me a greater insight, allowing me to look at both Canadian and Korean cultural similarities and differences. Naturalistically and socially, the observation and interpretation of cultural settings of how people interact with one another are important ways to question and critically think in an Anthropologist perspective in ways to see cultural relativism.
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