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Unit 1: Cultural literacy: Definitions of subculture and culture Please read the following document about cultures and

subcultures to be discussed in class. Subculture A subculture is a set of people with a set of behaviors and beliefs, culture, which could be distinct or hidden, that differentiate them from the larger culture to which they belong. If the subculture is characterized by a systematic opposition to the dominant culture, then it may be described as a counterculture. A subculture is an at least somewhat integrated component of a society, though clearly separated, while a counterculture is actively and openly opposed to many of die characteristics of a society. Subcultures can be distinctive because of the age, race, ethnicity, class, and/or gender. The qualities that determine a subculture as distinct may be aesthetic religious, political, sexual or a combination of these factors. Members of a subculture will often signal their membership through a distinctive and symbolic use of style. Style includes fashions, mannerisms, and argot (Hebidge, 1981). Exercise: Do you belong to any subculture? Which one? What makes you a member? What features are common to people that belong to that subculture? (Ex. Millonarios fan dub, gym-goer, emos, etc.) Stereotype A stereotype is the belief or opinion held by one group that the majority of a different group can be classified by die actions, appearance, or attitudes of a few members of that group. Culture The culture in which each of us lives influences and shapes our feelings, attitudes, and responses to our experiences and interactions with others. Because of our culture, each of us has knowledge, beliefs, values, views, and behaviors that we share with others who have the same cultural heritage. These past experiences, handed down from generation to generation, influence our values of what is attractive and what is ugly, what is acceptable behavior and what is not, and what is right and what is wrong. Our culture also teaches us how to interpret the world. From our culture we learn such things as how close to stand to strangers, when to speak and when to be silent, how to greet friends and strangers, and how to display anger appropriately. Because each culture will have a unique way of approaching these situations, we find great diversity in cultural behaviors throughout the world. Learning about cultural diversity provides students with knowledge and skills for more effective communication in inter/cultural situations. Samovar and Lee (1997) suggest that the first step in being a good intercultural communicator is to know your own culture and to know yourself- in other words, reflect thoughtfully on how you perceive things and how you act on those perceptions. Secondly, the more we know about the different cultural beliefs, values, and attitudes of our global neighbors, the better prepared we will be to recognize and to understand the differences in their cultural behaviors. The knowledge of cultural differences and self-knowledge of how we usually respond to those differences can make us aware of hidden prejudices and stereotypes that are barriers to tolerance, understanding, and good communication. The cultural behaviors of people from the same country can be referred to collectively as cultural patterns, which are clusters of interrelated cultural orientations. The common cultural patterns that hold for the entire country represent the dominant culture in a heterogeneous society. It is important to remember that even within a homogeneous culture, the dominant cultural pattern does not necessarily apply to everyone living in that culture. Our perception of the world does not develop only because of our culture; many other factors contribute to the development of our individual views. When we refer to a dominant cultural pattern we are referring to the patterns that foreigners are most likely to encounter. We also need to remember that culture is dynamic and that as the needs and values of individuals change, the cultural patterns will change also. One example of such a change is the status of women in the United States culture. After World War II, women began to work outside the home and started to share the previously male role of family provider. At the same time, family roles shifted to accommodate the working wife and mother, and men had to assume more responsibility for maintaining the home, like helping to cook, clean, and care for children. Value dimensions that have a significant impact on all cultures are individualism- collectivism, power distance, and time orientation. Hofstede (1980) has developed a taxonomy (a classification system) that identifies value dimensions that are influenced and modified by culture and includes individualismcollectivism and power distance, among others. Within his taxonomy, in individualistic cultures each individual is the most important part of die social structure and each individual is valued for his unique persona. People are concerned with their own personal goals and work towards fulfilling those goals. In an individualistic culture, people do not often possess loyalty to any groups. In collective cultures, on the other hand, individuals are very loyal to all the groups they are part of, including the workplace, their family and their community. Within collectivism, people are concerned with die groups' ideas and goals, and act in ways that fulfill die groups' purposes rather than the individual's. Samovar and Lee (1997) note that while individualism and collectivism can be treated as separate dominant cultural patterns and that it is helpful to do so, all people and cultures have both individual and collective dispositions. Examples: CULTURE X Culture X values collectivism, which means that individuals in that society believe that the groups they are part of are the most important parts of the society. When people make decisions, they consider die groups' goals and wants. In culture X, people value the groups they belong to more than their own individual selves. People are very loyal to the groups they are part of, and usually people stay at the same job all their lives. In this culture, when people make choices about marriage, education, and work, they always make their decisions together with their families. Their decisions are made based on what their families want them to do. Culture X believes in high power distance, which means that people who have more power and who have higher positions are treated more formally than other people. In this culture, people are taught that we are not all equal. Some people have more power and authority than others do, and we should treat these people with more respect. In this culture, students do not call their teachers by their names, and teachers and students do not spend time together outside of the classroom. Culture X is past-oriented, which means that people stress the importance of history. They believe that the events of the past determined what they are today. When the society makes decisions, the events of the past should be considered and respected. This culture does not easily make changes in their culture because they want to hold on to the past. Note: China, Japan and Korea are examples of the Culture X profile for time orientation and collectivism. The countries of Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela fit the Culture X profile for high power distance. (Hofstede, 1980)

CULTURE Y Culture Y values individualism, which encourages people to make their decisions based on their personal goals and wants. Culture Y people feel that each individual is special and different from others. People in this culture believe that they are the most important things in their environment. Culture Y encourages people to do things because they want to do them and to make decisions based only on their wants. If Culture Y people are not happy at their jobs, they are encouraged to look for jobs that will make them happier. Culture Y also believes in low power distance. This means that the Culture Y people believe all people are equal and should be treated equally regardless of their positions and authority in the society. In Culture Y, supervisors and people in power and their subordinates perceive each other to be the same kind of people. Many students call their teachers by their first names, and many teachers socialize with their students outside of the classroom. Culture Y society is very future-oriented, which means that people are very optimistic and excited about the future, and they believe that the future will be better and more prosperous for them. In Culture Y, people have discussions about the future. People believe that the future will bring them more happiness and good things Note: The United States and Canada exemplify the Culture Y profile for individualism and future-orientation. Finland, Denmark, and Norway fit the Culture Y profile for low power distance. Facts about Colombians (from the point of view of foreigners)



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You will almost never get a negative response from a Colombian when you make a suggestion, ask a favor, or offer hospitality. For example, a Colombian receiving a party invitation will thank the host for the invitation and show pleasure at being invited, even if he/she is not planning to go. Foreigners who value directness often perceive this kind of indirectness as evasive, dishonest, or at least inefficient. Nobody likes to look bad in front of others, and Colombians use their indirect style to avoid making themselves and others lose face. The Colombian concept of image (imagen) is important to understand. North Americans and Europeans use the related, but not identical, concept of self-image, referring to how people see themselves (e.g., competent, good-looking, intelligent, clumsy, too skinny, etc.)- Similarly, we speak of maintaining a "public image": behaving in ways to try to influence the opinions others have. It is useful to think of Colombian behavior in various situations as the product of the image they are trying to project. A Bogotano who arrives within about twenty minutes of an agreed appointment time may not even mention his or her lateness. This behavior should not be taken as rudeness. Rather, it is simply that Colombians assign a different meaning to the time that is set. For example, 8:00 a.m. means any time between 8:00 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. for an appointment and any time between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. for a social occasion. Many foreigners have experienced the frustration of going to a shop to pick up something the shopkeeper had promised to have ready for them only to find the work not done, and sometimes not even started. Colombians tend to be more thorough than North Americans or Europeans in the way they greet people. Any verbal greeting is almost always accompanied by a handshake and a brief exchange concerning events, relatives, or friends. Close friends will often kiss each other on the cheek in informal public or private greetings, and close male friends or relatives may hug. Greetings are given to everyone you deal with and serve to acknowledge the other person as a human being. It is considered discourteous to start right into some matter of business before these greetings have been completed. It is considered crude and impolite to put your feet up on a table or desk or to slouch down in a chair, as some people especially North Americans like to do. Entertaining a visitor in bare feet is also considered improper, although greeting them in a nice bathrobe and slippers might not be. When indicating the height of children, the hand is held as though it was behind the head, rather than over it, which is the gesture used for animals. It is considered rude to yawn in front of strangers. When you give a wrapped gift, don't be surprised if the recipient does not open it at the time or even mention it again. Colombians feel that opening a gift immediately upon receipt implies that you need it, which is an undesirable message to send. Wedding gifts should not be personal items, such as clothing. In December many public service employees (mailmen, garbage collectors, etc.) routinely request tips, rather than waiting passively. This attitude irritates many foreigners, but it is a well-established practice. Colombians customarily leave a small amount of food on their plates, which indicates that the food was plentiful and that they are not in need of more. This practice is sometimes annoying to foreigners, especially North Americans, whose mothers may have reminded them about starving children in poor countries whenever they left any food on their plates. Children typically live with their families until or even after they marry. However, in recent years it has become somewhat more common for children to move out of the parents' home before marriage, especially in upper-middle- and upper-class families, with more young people getting their own apartments. When they stay at home, it is often more out of economic necessity than preference, especially in the case of newly married couples who live with one of their families until they have saved enough to live on their own. Colombians are very friendly and will offer foreigners many kindnesses upon first meeting therm. However, dose friendships develop slowly among Colombians and involve a great deal of commitment and trust. You will frequently receive a general invitation to visit someone. This kind of invitation is intended to convey good will but is not meant to be taken literally. Don't be surprised or disappointed if it never results in getting together. Foreigners, especially those in influential positions, are sometimes befriended by Colombians who intend to use the relationship or "connection" (palanca) to ask favors. In general Colombians are open to discussing almost any subject that might come up in normal conversation, facilitated by the fact that the government does not practice systematic censorship. This includes seemingly sensitive topics such as social inequality, smuggling and drug traffic, corruption, and guerrilla activity.

Questions to be discussed in class in your own words: 1. 2. 3. What is culture, subculture and stereotype? What are the most significant differences between culture X and culture Y? What facts about Colombians you agree or disagree with?