Chapter Two. Culture and the Culture Learning Process. Defining Culture. Culture is socially constructed. Culture is shared by its members. Culture is both objective and subjective.
Culture and the Culture Learning Process
Subcultures share characteristics that distinguish them from the larger society in which they are embedded; these characteristics may be a set of ideas and practices or some demographic similarity.
Some examples of subcultures are:
Culture of poverty
Microcultures also share distinguishing characteristics but tend to be more closely linked to the larger society, often serving in mediating roles.
Some examples of microcultures are:
Members of ethnic groups share a common heritage, a common history, and often a common language; loyalty to one’s ethnic identity can be very powerful.
Some examples of ethnic groups are:
Members of minority groups occupy a subordinate position in a society; they may be separated from the dominant society by disapproval and discrimination.
Some examples of minority groups in the U.S. are:
People with disabilities
This term refers to members of non-white minority groups; it is often preferred to the term “minority group,” but does not clearly identify specific loyalties.
For example, native Spanish-speakers may identify themselves as Hispanic people of color, but their cultural identity may be as Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, or Salvadorans.
Norms of behavior
Meaning of objective cultural elements
Help to understand a particular cultural group (for example, Native Americans)
Do not account for in-group differences
Help to understand how culture “works” in people’s lives; a universal perspective
Suggest questions to ask of any culture
Sources of cultural knowledge and identity
Three stages of socialization
Because the process of socialization is intended to cause individuals to internalize knowledge, attitudes, values, and beliefs, it has several results which should not be surprising:
Ethnocentrism is the tendency people have to evaluate others according to their own standards and experience
Categorization is the cognitive process by which all human beings simplify their world by grouping similar stimuli.
Our categories give meaning to our perceptions.
A prototype image best characterizes the meaning of a category.
Example: for the category “bird,” we usually think of robins, not chickens
Given this complexity, it is wise to consider the immense variation of possible cultural elements in our own lives and in the lives of others.
Building a positive attitude toward diversity involves several elements:
By ignoring the cultural and social forms that are authorized by youth and simultaneously empower and disempower them, educators risk complicity in silencing and negating their students. This is unwittingly accomplished by refusing to recognize the importance of those sites and social practices outside of schools that actively shape student experiences and through which students often define and construct their sense of identity, politics, and culture.
--Giroux and Simon