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What Is Culture?

Uploaded by CollegeKid2002 on Oct 22, 2001

A group of Arab oil workers sent to Texas for training found American teaching methods impersonal. Several Japanese workers at a U.S. manufacturing plant had to learn how to put courtesy aside and interrupt conversations when there was trouble . Executives o f a Swiss based multinational couldn't understand why its American managers demanded more autonomy than their European counterparts.

Jose Carlos Villates, a business manager for animal health products at American Cyanamid Co., also had a problem with office protocol. Back in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, where he was raised, business people would begin meetings with relaxed chitchat. At the company s headquarters in Wayne, NJ, though, he says he picks up signals orbody language that Americans find such sociability time wasting. But even after 15 months in the U.S., Mr. Villates feels uncomfortable plunging abruptly into business. "It strikes me as cold blooded," he says.

Most people think that culture is manners, food, dress, arts and crafts, says Clifford Clarke, president of IRI International, a Redwood City, CA, consulting company. They don t realize that how you motivate a guy is culturally determined. Every managerial task is culturally determined. [Bennett, 1986, p. 33]

Even a definition of culture depends on culture. In the German, Scandinavian, and Slavic language groups, the word "culture" tends to mean a particular way of life, whether of a people, a time period, or a group. But in Italian and French, the word refers more to art, learning, and a general process of human development (Williams, 1976a, p. 81). Both meanings exist today as the word is used in English. It is helpful to distinguish so-called high culture (classical music, opera, ballet, art, literature, and so forth) from all processes and products of human activity. High culture is associated with class distinctions and is sometimes put down with the affected pronunciation "culchah" (Williams, 1976). We will use the term culture in its more general social sense to mean the customs of a group or a society.

Culture refers to all the symbolic and socially learned aspects of human society. Material culture includes things, technology, and the arts. Nonmaterial culture includes language and other symbols, knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and customs. Culture has a certain durability. This does not mean it is unchanging; culture changes constantly. Indeed, it is like a living, breathing entity. Only the rate of change varies from one society to...

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Uploaded by:   CollegeKid2002

Date:   10/22/2001

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   17 pages (3,907 words)

Views:   1932

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