Variations of the perception of culture and the differences Essay Example
Variations of the perception of culture and the differences Essay Example

Variations of the perception of culture and the differences Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 8 (2177 words)
  • Published: July 27, 2017
  • Type: Essay
View Entire Sample
Text preview

The concept of culture is a multifaceted system that encompasses values, beliefs, customs, language and material objects that shape societies. According to Parvis in 2007, cultural experiences differ from place to place but provide a universal perspective on the concept of culture. Kartha highlighted Malaysia's unique mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures in 2009. Altman and Chemers note that culture also includes people's beliefs about their lives such as respecting and loving parents. Cultural norms are formed through these rules and beliefs influencing daily behavior among individuals. For example, Marasco (2002) notes if violence is deemed unacceptable then words will be used instead of physical aggression when resolving disputes. Culture is learned through shared experiences across generations holding significance for every civilization; members can predict thoughts and actions based on cultural cues such as language usage, literatur


e references or dining etiquette (Ferraro 2008). Culture acts as a guidebook for members of society to navigate life by establishing rules and promoting unity (Samovar et al 2009; Andersen & Taylor 2006). The contents of culture include symbols, language, values and beliefs, norms, and material culture like technology. Immaterial culture plays a role in shaping society through intangible elements.Symbols play an important role in material culture, as seen in tangible items like engineering. They help simplify complex thoughts and actions, for example, winking can have various intentions behind it. Untrimmed noodles during Chinese New Year food are symbols that promote shared understanding within cultures. According to Popenoe (1989), Macionis (2005), and Kendall (2010), symbols connect individuals to their cultural roots and convey messages such as nationalism or love using tangible objects representing abstract meanings. Flags represent nationa

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

spirit while exchanging rings during weddings symbolizes unity between two souls becoming one. Gestures communicate certain messages without speaking; head movements transmit specific signals. Social status is often indicated by symbols, which impact others' perceptions of an individual's class or status within society; branded luxury goods demonstrate higher social status within a community reflecting an owner's economic position (Stuart 2010). Language is another crucial set of symbols for communication beyond gestures(Kendall 2010). The global diversity of languages reflects the various cultures and traditions found across different societies(Popenoe 1989) such as Malaysia where multiple ethnic groups use Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, Cantonese,Tamil Hokkien among other languages( 2008).According to Brym and Lie (2007), language is a means of cultural transmission that allows for the formation of ideas for the future and helps children learn about their heritage through communication with family, peers, and teachers in their native language. Kendall (2010) stresses that full integration into society or a group requires learning its language, which is also important for professionals like sociologists or doctors who need to use appropriate jargon to convey messages effectively. The Sapir-Whorf thesis by anthropologists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf suggests that language influences people's thought processes, behavior, and perception of reality (Andersen & Taylor 2007). Kramsch (2003) notes an interconnection between language and thought that may differ among individuals who speak different languages. Popenoe (1989) argues that English speakers have a more linear approach to tense organization, resulting in a more objective view of time compared to Hopi speakers. Language can construct reality leading to social stereotypes and changes in societal perspectives on issues such as racism or sexism (Andersen & Taylor 2007).

This was evident when Wee Meng Chee created an anti-racism video called "Nah" opposing racist comments made by Siti Inshah Mansor about Chinese and Indian students causing controversy (Peterson 2010).According to YAHOO!NEWS (2010), cultural values are the principles and standards that a community considers favorable, influencing decisions regarding job choices, personal choices, and life challenges. While these values guide society's goals, they do not necessarily dictate specific actions for every circumstance. For instance, a happy marriage is valued without any established guidelines for achieving it (Mohanty 2005). These values stem from collectively held beliefs within cultures that often lack empirical evidence (Brinkerhoff et al., 2008). Rachel (2010) suggests that socialization teaches beliefs formed through a person's experiences including what they see, hear or read about or believe to be true. Even if these beliefs lack logic or proof from religion, folklore, art science or mythology they can serve as the basis for how people perceive their surroundings and explain their lives. Rollings (2005) discusses how different cultures have differing societal values regarding traditional gender roles. However, (2010) notes that most societies today share the value of equal opportunities regardless of gender. Japan still has deeply rooted masculine values resulting in male squad leaders being appointed instead of women leading to unrealized equality between men and women while adults in the United States believe that a qualified adult female could hold the position of president of state.According to Macionis (2005), conflicts may arise when values clash, leading to tense situations where people go against their beliefs. For instance, euthanasia goes against social norms and beliefs regarding the sanctity of human life, except in cases of

self-defense as outlined by Somerville (2006). Hechter & Opp (2001) suggest that norms prescribe specific behavioral expectations for individuals in particular circumstances, unlike values which do not dictate how individuals should act. Brinkerhoff et al. (2008) argue that norms are crucial as they provide a model for social interactions and establish social control. Fuchs et al. (2003) also emphasize the role of values in motivating individuals to fight or give up something for their preservation. Sanctions such as rewards or punishments apply to certain individuals or all depending on the situation and reinforce these norms according to Pearson Education (2010). In Britain, the "alcohol norm" prohibits underage drinking in bars while religious values ban alcohol consumption in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia; Kartika received caning under Islamic law for consuming beer. Kendall (2010) notes that William Graham Sumner identified two types of norms: folkways with no severe consequences if violated like forgetting to say "thank you," and mores associated with strong feelings about right and wrong where violating them results in severe penalties like prohibitions on incest.According to Andersen & Taylor (2007), Islamic fundamentalists enforce the requirement for women to cover their bodies and faces in public, with non-compliance being unacceptable. Koay's (2008) documentation of the arrest of an Austrian father who engaged in incest with his daughter for over 20 years and fathered seven children is included in Appendix 4. Brinkerhoff et al. (2008) suggest that when enforcing and sanctioning cultural norms, the state transforms them into laws that regulate human behavior. Material culture, which includes artifacts such as clothing, buildings, and eating utensils like chopsticks used frequently in Chinese cultures but not knives and

forks common in Western societies, shapes people's lives within a society (Newman, 2010). By studying these artifacts, sociologists can gain insight into intangible values and norms held by a culture. Kendall (2010) explains that technological knowledge, techniques, tools, and skills used by people to transform resources into usable forms are also part of material culture; it encompasses adaptation skills necessary for societal economic or environmental changes. The dragon dance symbolizes power, unity, self-respect and is an essential aspect of Chinese culture performed during the new year to bring good luck to society members according to Dragon of The South(2010).Personal computers have become an integral part of modern society, enhancing efficiency and providing easy access to information (Newman 2010; Ajami et al., 2006; Stolley, 2005; Macionis, 2005). Similarly, the car has transformed mobility for those seeking economic opportunities or knowledge. According to Karl Marx and Max Weber's social conflict theories, unequal relations between groups competing over limited resources result in conflicts as they seek benefits at each other's expense. In contemporary society, economic resources and capitalist power are primary drivers that some use to control others without consent or influence over social order leading to inequality issues. Welsh (2009) identified two societal categories: capitalists/middle class vs laborers, causing ongoing conflicts between "haves" and "have-nots," noted by Ferrante (2008), which lead to poverty and societal problems such as environmental pollution caused by those seeking financial success at the cost of others highlighted by Stolley (2005). Cortese (2003) observes that once these controlling groups achieve social mobility goals that they tend not to consider pollution control costs. Reiman's book on crime shows how conflict theory perspectives result in

prosecution based on laws created for rich interests against poor discusses the impact of racial and cultural biases on skin color-based tensions faced by minority communities. Cortese (2003) notes that in Michigan, law enforcement often targets Black and African American individuals based on assumptions about their likelihood to engage in criminal activity compared to White people. Similarly, Greene & Gabbidon (2009) reveal that discrimination against those with darker skin tones exists not only in law enforcement but also in education and employment, as seen through Appendix 5 in Mexico. McLeod's "Ain't No Makin' It" illustrates conflict theory within education where lower class students are viewed as less capable while upper class students receive praise for their talent and wealth (; Macionis, 2005). Cultural capital is highlighted by Pierre Bourdieu as a crucial factor in determining social status since it involves knowledge of art and socially accepted behaviors, allowing richer students to maintain elite positions while hindering opportunities for poorer students to succeed (Artificial Intelligence, 2010). Additionally, Kendall (2010) connects feminist theory with social-conflict theory by emphasizing unequal power structures represented through gender roles.Brinkerhoff et al (2008) and Zhou's (2009) studies show that men have more power and advantages compared to women who experience oppression in society, even in the workplace in China. Cortese (2003), following Radical feminism, argues that societal stigmas and sex crimes oppress women due to male domination. Stolley (2005) claims that cultural values and norms perpetuate societal inequalities but structural-functional analysis fails to address human needs. Achieving an equitable society demands a balance between social-conflict and structural-functional analysis as indicated in Appendix 6. Culture encompasses tangible and intangible elements inherited from

previous generations via symbols, language, values, beliefs, norms, and material culture shaping people's attitudes and behavior representing their way of life. Social-conflict analysis asserts that wealth should be reserved for hardworking individuals rather than those who do not work hard enough. "Shape up or ship out" is a phrase used by captains highlighting how power capitalists can motivate weaker individuals to push themselves harder for success.Through diligence, shedding bad habits in this competitive arena can lead to strong position attainment possibilities. The idea that an individual's future is shaped by their modifications of cultural beliefs and values comes from Macionis (2005) and Ferrante (2008). Socialization is crucial in molding individuals into productive members of society, with family being the primary agent during childhood. As life progresses, other agents such as educational institutions, peer groups, media and workplaces also play a role. Socialization is an ongoing process throughout one's lifetime that enables self-discovery and the acquisition of interpersonal skills within a particular cultural setting. Various agents of socialization include the family unit which serves as the primary agent for most individuals during childhood teaching basic values, attitudes, beliefs and norms.Educational Institutions: Schools and universities, along with providing academic knowledge, serve as important agents for imparting valuable social skills and values. Peer Groups: Through school, sports teams or community organizations, individuals of similar age, status and interests come together to form peer groups. These groups play a crucial role in shaping an individual's beliefs and behaviors towards society while helping them develop a sense of identity within the larger context. The Media: The media (including television, movies and music) plays a critical role in the socialization process

by facilitating the development of attitudes and beliefs about the world around us. In adulthood, The Workplace becomes an essential agent of socialization where one learns norms, values and behaviors associated with their occupation. Socialization is a continuous process that occurs throughout life (

The Life Course

).Throughout different stages of life, individuals encounter various agents of socialization that shape their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. The stages include infancy and childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, middle age, and old age. In the stage of infancy and childhood, family serves as the primary agent of socialization where children learn basic values that contribute to healthy self-esteem. However, negative environments can hinder positive relationships with others. During adolescence, individuals develop a sense of identity within a larger social context where peer groups become increasingly important for fostering a healthy self-esteem. Early adulthood is characterized by significant transitions such as leaving home, starting a career and forming lasting connections.

Socialization is a vital process that helps individuals internalize the norms of their chosen career path, and it occurs through educational institutions and workplaces. Major life changes like divorce or loss can impact one's identity and ability to create meaningful relationships in middle age. In old age, health issues or loss of independence may occur, but many older adults remain socially active to promote their well-being.
Throughout different stages of life, socialization agents play a significant role in shaping an individual's behavior and personality over time. Childhood socialization mainly comes from families, while during adolescence and adulthood, educational institutions, peer groups, media outlets, and workplaces become more influential in shaping an individual's self-concept and skill to interact with others within a specific culture.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds