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The Meaning of Culture

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  1. The Meaning of Culture

  2. Please Do Now: Identify one thing that represents yourculture. • Example: American culture – baseball

  3. Example • “Don’t be afraid. Look at me when you speak, Susie,” the teacher urged. She looked up. She arrived in New York from Hong Kong only a week earlier. Now on her first day of school the teacher seemed displeased. • What’s going on here??

  4. Misunderstandings • Knowledge of each others cultures • Culture- all the things that make up a peoples entire way of life.

  5. What is Culture? • The unique way in which a group of people live • Generally refers to the patterns of human activity • "The total, generally organized way of life, including values, norms, institutions, and artifacts, that is passed on from generation to generation by learning alone"

  6. Hong Kong Culture and Beliefs • Language • widely spoken language in Hong Kong is Cantonese. • It was after the 1997 handover that the government adopted the biliterate and trilingual policy, according to which Chinese and English both must be acknowledged as official languages. • Cantonese has been acknowledged as the de facto official spoken dialect of the Chinese in Hong Kong. Standard Mandarin is also spoken in Hong Kong.

  7. Beliefs • prayer and offerings at more than 600 old and new temples, shrines and monasteries that are found across the territory. • FengShui is taken very seriously here with expensive construction projects often hiring consultants that are believed to make or break a business. • The Bagua mirror is also regularly used to shield evils. People in Hong Kong also believe in numbers, with the Number 4 being avoided at all costs (since it is similar to the Chinese word for die). • The people here believe in avoiding the use of scissors on Chinese New Year too.

  8. Various Cultures • Color of Bride's Wedding Attire • White is the color for the bride in the West, with lovely white gowns, being symbols of joy • China red is the color of the wedding dress, symbolizing love and joy. • However, Chinese women are now seen to be letting go of this red tradition and are getting married in white gowns these days. • Mexico, the bride wears a brightly colored, Flamenco-style dress with ruffles at the hem. • In Ireland, it is considered bad omen for the bride or anyone attending the wedding to wear green.

  9. Spain • Spanish culture is widely known for Flamenco music and dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches and lots of sunshine. • But what is Spain known for? • It has much more to offer than that. It is - and has been for thousands of years, one of the cultural centers of Europe.

  10. Another example of Spanish culture is the invention of the Spanish guitar • The art world in the early 20th century was influenced by a remarkable group of Spanish artists: Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, ambassadors of the artistic culture in Spain.

  11. Traditional Customs of China • Chinese considered tea as one of their seven basic necessities. • Firewood, oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar were some of the other basic needs. • Ways of tea preparation, the ways of tasting it and the occasions on which it is consumed make the Chinese tea culture unique. Children serve tea to their elders as a token of respect. People of lower order are supposed to serve tea to people of higher ranks. • This custom is still practiced on formal occasions. When a person is served tea, he knocks on the table with bent index finger and middle finger to say, "thank you". Chinese tea is not only their drink but also an ingredient of herbal medicines.

  12. Chinese weddings have certain traditional customs associated with them. • As a form of expressing gratitude, the bride and the groom kneel in front of their parents and offer them tea. • In response to this, parents drink a small portion of tea and gift the pair a red envelope. • The tea ceremony was once an occasion of the families of the newly wed couple to know each other. In olden times, drinking the tea offered showed acceptance of marriage while refusal represented opposition to the marriage.

  13. Italian cuisine is world famous. • Pizzas and pastas are the two popular dishes people around the world are familiar with. • Italian recipes are known for it is use of fine ingredients such as herbs and spices. • The history of Italian cuisine dates back to ancient Roman days. • The historians believe the history of Italian food began during the eight century BC, when Greek settlers colonized Sicily and Magna Graecia, a region in Southern Italy.

  14. Jamaican clothes • Exciting and flamboyant as the mood of the place. • The temperatures switch • Day-warm. Night- cool

  15. Jamaican clothes for women: • long skirts and scarves • Mostly hand made. • They wear a skirt, a blouse and a head scarf that is made out of Calico. • Calico is a sort of cotton cloth locally made and marketed. The scarf is draped in a particular way. The piece of material is folded in half and tied around the head and then tucked, to prevent it from slipping off. The women dress in very colorful clothes. The blouses are usually short sleeved because of the weather.

  16. Jamaican clothes for men: • Jamaican men wear trousers and shirts, just like men in other parts of the world. • However, the fabric used for the attire is different. The fabrics sported by men are as colorful as those flaunted by the women and children. • They love designs with flowers, loud colors flaunting sailing boats and swaying coconut palms and the sun and sea. • The men wear short or long trousers and even knee length ones. There is little or no difference in the formal and informal clothing and again the reason is the weather.

  17. Jamaican clothes for children: • Jamaican children look as colorful as the men and women. • They are dressed most of the time in flimsy attire to beat the heat. • The little boys wear banyan like or short sleeved shirts or t-shirts and short pants. • They are seen sporting bandanas whenever the heat becomes unbearable. • The little girls wear short dresses or shorts and t-shirts and are as flamboyant as the boys. • Both, the girls and the boys, sport short hair.

  18. WHY IS CULTURE SOMETIMES COMPARED TO AN ICEBERG? Facial expressions Religious beliefs Foods Eating habits Paintings Concept of self Work ethic Styles of dress Literature Concept of fairness Child raising beliefs YOU CAN SEE YOU CAN’T SEE

  19. Social Organization • Family is the most important unit of social organization. • Nuclear Family- includes a wife, husband, and their children. • Extended Family- several generations in one house.

  20. Social Classes • Rank people in order of status. • Can be based on money, occupation, education, ancestry, or any other factor a culture values highly. • Past- born into a class • Today- people can change status • How?

  21. Customs and Traditions • Rules of behavior • What to wear • How to be polite • To eat with a fork or chopsticks • Sleep in a bed or hammock • greetings

  22. Language • Cornerstone of Culture • All cultures have a language • Reflects identity • People who speak the same language often share the same customs • U.S.A, for example, does not have an official language, but most Americans speak English.

  23. Large number of languages • Examples • India has more than 700 languages. • Indian government has recognized 15 official languages. • Canada has 2, French and English

  24. Art and Literature • Folk tales-handed down from generation to generation. • Ex)American children hear the tale of “The Tortoise and the Hare.” (teachers value of determination and hard work)

  25. Religion • People create beautiful temples, churches, paintings, and music to express their faith. • Monotheism- worship of one God. • Polytheism- worship of more than one God.

  26. Forms of Government • Provide for common needs. • Keeping order • Protection from outside threats • For years • Usually a chief or council of elders made important decisions. Leaders based decisions on the culture’s beliefs and customs. • Expansion • More complex governments • Each nation has its own government based on a written code of law.

  27. Types of Governments today • Democracy- people have supreme power. • Republic- form of democracy where the people choose the leaders who represent them. • Example • U.S.A is a democracy with a republican form of government.

  28. Dictatorship • A ruler or group holds power by force. • Military support

  29. Economic System • Economics- refers to how people use limited resources to satisfy their wants and needs. • Traditional Economy-people produce most of what they need to survive. • Hunting, gathering, farming, herding cattle, and making own food and clothing. • MarketEconomy- individuals answer the basic economic questions by buying and selling goods and services.

  30. CommandEconomy -the government controls what goods are produced , how they are produced and what they cost. • Until the 1990s, the communist countries of Eastern Europe had command economies. • MixedEconomy- individuals makes some economic decisions and the government makes others. • Ex)U.S.A car makers decide what to produce and sell. Government says cars must meet a certain safety standard and fuel use.

  31. Activity One • Activity 1:In pairs, make a list of gestures that are commonly used in the United States and other countries. That is, ways that we make our feelings known without saying a word. MAKE SURE THEY ARE APPROPRIATE GESTURES!!! • The following should be suggested: • Waving (hello, goodbye, in dismissal, or to get attention) • Cuckoo sign (circling finger at temple) • Emphatic fist in the air with locked elbow • High five • Shrugging shoulders ("I don't know," or "I don't care.")

  32. When finished, take turns mentioning a gesture they have listed, and discuss what the gesture means to them. • Note how much general agreement about the meaning of the gestures exists among the students. • Repeat this process until all the gestures have been shared, and mention any on the above list that have not been mentioned by the students. • Make a list of the gestures on a flip chart or on the chalkboard, and ask the students to copy the list to use for Activity 3.

  33. Activity Two- Distance considered a comfort zone • Activity 2:Ask one of the students to leave the room for some purpose. While that student is out of the room, explain to the others that you want to demonstrate that each culture has a certain distance that is considered to be the comfort zone for "personal space." (This is called "proxemics"; a term coined by E.T. Hall in 1963.) • When the unsuspecting student (Student "A") returns to the room, ask him or her to remain at the front to help with a demonstration. Say that you and the class want to observe the gestures mentioned in the first activity as he or she has a casual conversation with another student (Student "B"). • Ask a pre-selected "volunteer" to come forward to talk about some upcoming event of interest. At first, they will be standing a normal distance apart. As they converse, Student "B" has been asked to move closer and closer. Have the class observe discomfort on the part of Student "A," and estimate how many inches they are from one another when Student "A" finally backs away from Student "B." After explaining the exercise to Student "A," ask how he or she felt as Student "B" closed in. • Have the two students demonstrate what they consider to be a comfortable space between them as they converse. Measure that space (from shoulder to shoulder) with a measuring tape or yardstick.

  34. Stand in pairs and determine what their own personal comfort zones are, using tape measures or yardsticks. If there are students in the class from other countries, see if their preferred personal space is different. • Share the following information with students from the CNNMoney feature, Body Language Savvy: Most Americans favor a distance of approximately 19 inches, or just about arm's length, though for Western Europeans and Americans, a space of 14 to 16 inches would be considered non-intrusive. • Those from the U.K. are more comfortable if the person with whom they are speaking maintains a distance of 24 inches. Business owners and corporate executives in Korean and China generally prefer at least that much room, and Japanese business executives have indicated a preference for even greater personal space of roughly 36 inches. On the other hand, those from Middle Eastern countries favor a personal space of only 8 to 12 inches, and they could perceive a greater distance as suspicious behavior.

  35. Try to have a conversation when they feel that their conversation partner is standing too close or too far away. • How does it make you feel when this happens? • Discuss the pitfalls of not knowing the comfort zones of other cultures where they might be traveling for pleasure, education, or business. • If you were traveling in a country in which the distance seems too close or too far, how might they deal with that reality?

  36. Activity 3:Ask students to look at the Web sites below and any others they find on the Internet, and note how the gestures on their lists from Activity 1 might be a problem in various countries. Ask them to find other activities, such as giving gifts, which could cause similar misunderstandings. When this assignment is completed, have the students discuss the results in class. • As a Guest in a Foreign CountryThe Body Language of ProxemicsCNNMoney: Body Language SavvyGestures or Subtle Clues?How's Your Personal Distance—Watch This SpaceThe Language Everybody Speaks

  37. Student Assessment: • Choose one country and write an essay advising both natives of that country and persons from the United States about the cultural differences they will encounter in visiting back and forth as students, tourists, and/or on business.