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Why is it so difficult to see the culture?

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  • 07-03-2010 3:47pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 161 ✭✭


    Hi everyone - new here. Gonna start with an easy one :)


    Why do you think it is so difficult for (wo)man to see one's own culture?

    In Saudi-Arabia most of the people are muslims and in Ireland people are Catholics. Up here in Finland we have neutrality which is sort of a religion too. Only a small portion of the population questions the doctrines of it. When you live in a country you get so enbedded in the culture that even if one would not recognise where ones opinions might come from there is a cultural connection to them. Even if one would not root anymore for the basic idea - there are still learned values that originate from the culture: for example most of the Finns are Lutherians and feel like Germans that is a sin that if you do not work hard. Even if you had resigned from the church you still feel guilty if you sit on the sofa all day.

    I often wonder why is so that people have so little tolerance for other cultures than their own and not see it is just one way of living your life. I guess the worst case of this all sort of extremists - but I feel we all are a bit haunted by this. It also interesting to think that maybe all of our opinions are not really ours.

    Sorry that I could not define better what I am asking your opinions on.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,831 ✭✭✭Torakx


    i have to say thank you for that post.
    You really helped me confirm something a bit more in my head about an ex girlfriend i used to live with.
    She lived in Ireland and while we were together and both working everythign was ok.
    Not saying we didnt have issues,But as soon as the recession hit my job prospects went out the window and i couldnt get any work.
    I had thought sadly to myself after i left her that she drove me insane with insults and bitter looks because i was on the dole and couldnt find suitable work and it was due to jealousy which she admitted to.
    But i think it was to do with her culture also.This is what made her uncomfortable that she was projecting onto me what a man in her culture might be expected to be like.I could be wrong as there just wasnt any jobs for me!As to how she thought another man in my position was supposed to do what i couldnt i dont know.which is why i figure she was projecting onto me.
    Am i stereo typing Germans too much or was she a rare one that happened to fit the bill?
    I will say the experience with a German and a Persian/Austrian girl have put me off european women from those general areas lol
    I do believe it might be true that Germans in general do work hard and feel guilty when not working.I know a good few and they are all like that.Very industrious.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28,411 ✭✭✭✭looksee


    'I often wonder why is so that people have so little tolerance for other cultures than their own and not see it is just one way of living your life.'

    This is my take on the question. People absorb what they grow up with - as in the Jesuit saying, 'Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man'. This indoctrination becomes the basis for their beliefs and most people are unlikely to change their beliefs completely, even in the face of compelling evidence. (I am not talking about Catholic or even religious belief particularly, it is true of any belief system)

    Also, if someone believes something, they want other people to believe the same thing to justify their belief. So within a particular community/area people feel good if they agree with each other and believe the same thing, and they will try and persuade others to go along with them.

    Change the word 'belief' to 'culture' and you get much the same result. Most people have very little real contact with other cultures so they do not have the opportunity to see an alternative to their own lifestyle. They believe their way is 'right' and it is what they are comfortable with. No matter how open-minded you are, you can still suffer from culture shock if you move to another culture, because you do not realise how many of the behaviours you take for granted are not universal.

    Having said all that, I think that people are increasingly aware of other cultures and tolerant of different lifestyles, much more than they were only maybe 50 years ago. Education, communication and travel have made huge differences to the way people think. Whether it is desirable for all cultural differences to be homogenised is another question, but as long as there are cultural differences, people will tend to think their own is the norm.

    Just as an aside, my mother said to me on one occasion years ago when we were were in a market in the English midlands, "I don't know why those Indian women have to go around in those saris, why don't they wear the same as we do?" I asked her if she would wear a sari if she went to India, and she looked shocked and said, "of course not". And she really could not see the connection.


  • Registered Users Posts: 161 ✭✭Blueboyd


    Good points there. I didn't mean just religion. It is just so easy example. But it could be a teenager who rebels against parents, rebels against teachers - courageously even - but then in her "own gang" is afraid to be different. So she listens to certain kind of music, wears certain kind of clothes - like the others - to feel accepted. To feel unity.


    So I guess the reasons are closer to biology or psychology. It is really hard to be different, isn't it. I guess one of our basic needs is that we need to be accepted and feel unity with "our flock". But when do we go out and look for "the gang" that suits us best and when do we stay put and be just like the other birds. Or is there at all "a gang" that suits us best. Is it an illusion. I guess my point is that if you start stipping away cultural stuff - things that come outside of you - will there be anything left at all. Or is it like the text books teach us - a man is his genome + environmental factors.


    Sorry if I'm driving you all nuts with these. I think it is not so popular subject in general to wonder who we really are and why we think like we think.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,831 ✭✭✭Torakx


    Good point about stripping away the cultural stuff.
    I used to believe that we are who we are because of our enviornment in the psychological sense.But i think now also there are genes that play a large part.
    I think though that for the most part people tend to define themselves according to there enviornment and experiences.
    I do notice extreme changes in society when i leave it for a while or move to another place.And i realise its not only that i have gone a different path from most but that society itself is also changing and if you want to be part of the group or a group you need to conform in most cases to that groups ideology or risk being an outcast.
    Of course i know theres exceptions but if i can find that group i might be more happy lol.
    Every group i know that is different from the other, expect(not forcebly but obviously) a certain behaviour from me which i am unwilling to give up.Leaving me between a rock and a hard place.Do i conform and train myself to stop thinking and talking about what interests me or do i conform to society and choose a group that suits my interests on one subject or style of living.
    I find i cant socialize in either group to my satisfaction because not many understand the ways of the opposite groups leaving me partly in each one but not fully able to be myself in either.

    So for me with a pretty strange set of beliefs and interests, i still find all those came from my experiences in the world either creating a wall to guard or an open door to one idea based on my fears and wants from past.
    My genes might play a part with my personality as i am much like my grandfather and a little less like my parents who raised me.

    So i guess its all about the experience that makes us original for the most part.If you stay in one place and dont have a strong curiosity then it possible to turn out quite similar to people around you and find it easy to fit into a group and be satisfied.
    Ignorance can be bliss imo.But i rather suffer lol

    Blueboyd wrote: »
    I guess one of our basic needs is that we need to be accepted and feel unity with "our flock". But when do we go out and look for "the gang" that suits us best and when do we stay put and be just like the other birds. Or is there at all "a gang" that suits us best. Is it an illusion. I guess my point is that if you start stipping away cultural stuff - things that come outside of you - will there be anything left at all. Or is it like the text books teach us - a man is his genome + environmental factors


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,038 ✭✭✭sponsoredwalk


    Blueboyd wrote: »
    Good points there. I didn't mean just religion. It is just so easy example. But it could be a teenager who rebels against parents, rebels against teachers - courageously even - but then in her "own gang" is afraid to be different. So she listens to certain kind of music, wears certain kind of clothes - like the others - to feel accepted. To feel unity.


    So I guess the reasons are closer to biology or psychology. It is really hard to be different, isn't it. I guess one of our basic needs is that we need to be accepted and feel unity with "our flock". But when do we go out and look for "the gang" that suits us best and when do we stay put and be just like the other birds. Or is there at all "a gang" that suits us best. Is it an illusion. I guess my point is that if you start stipping away cultural stuff - things that come outside of you - will there be anything left at all. Or is it like the text books teach us - a man is his genome + environmental factors.


    Sorry if I'm driving you all nuts with these. I think it is not so popular subject in general to wonder who we really are and why we think like we think.


    Cogito Ergo Sum, you're pretty much talking about Rene Descartes and his quest to refuse to believe nothing based on external factors. This is the cornerstone of the Scientific method. I think it's a great thing to try to shake off some of the external cultural chains that hold you back, they truly are chains if not handled with care. You do a service to all of human kind in trying to shake off the chains of culture to get a clear eye to view others with a clear perspective, not a perspective of "they're the outsiders".

    I don't think there's any need to be "different", be yourself. If you feel alienated from those around you you're certainly not alone in that respect (not you personally but, y'know :p). Pick up any piece of literature & chances are the author will speak of a similar experience. That's the crazy thing, I think nearly everybody experiences a simiar experience in their own way but they barely ever share such experiences.

    Everybody is the same yet they'll never let on...


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,053 ✭✭✭Cannibal Ox


    Blueboyd wrote:
    Why do you think it is so difficult for (wo)man to see one's own culture?
    I think the question behind this question is whether individuals are determined by factors beyond their control, or whether individuals have free will over themselves, and this problem/question is a large part of sociology (and cultural studies, philosophy, politics, etc.).

    You could argue that we're completely submerged in culture and how we talk, think, conceive of the world, and how we view, think of, and use our bodies is determined by the culture we find ourselves in. So, for example, the way a person views their body, and whether it is a right or a good body, is determined by the culture they find themselves in. They might not be able to conceive of any way to look at their body in a positive light outside of how their culture conceives of a good body.

    Equally, you could argue that yes, we find ourselves within a culture that sets standards and rules that attempt to regulate our minds and bodies, but ultimately we retain free will to choose whether we accept and follow those standards and rules. So, the person looking at their body might percieve the cultural norm of what a good body is, but can still reject that norm and concieve of their body as a good body regardless of whether or not it appropriates their cultures bodily norm.

    The answer probably, in my opinion, lies between the two approaches. We are submerged in culture/s and I don't doubt that they have a huge impact on us, but I also think we still have some capacity for self reflection, and can still choose whether or not we accept some cultural norms. It's also worth thinking not of "a" culture, but looking at multiple cultures that we intersect with in our everday lives. Being on the internet you interact with numerous different cultures everyday. Walking down a main street, you interact with numerous different cultures. When you move from family to work to social groups you engage in different cultures with different norms. You accept some, and reject others.

    What I really think you should try and avoid is reducing cause to a single factor, be it cultural, biological, economic, political, psychological, in the same way that I don't think you can reduce these questions down to either determinism or free will. I don't think it is possible to attribute any single factor to every single event, and I think if you try to do that, you'll miss out on all the other factors involved in how we interact with each other, whether they're cultural influences, biological determinisms, or economic reasons.


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