1 - please take out your ipads and search for a picture that represents American culture. Save that picture, then:
Yesterday we examined two metaphors for understanding culture: The card game and the fishbowl. Take a minute and think about how each of these is like a culture.
2. Turn to a person next to you, the older partner share how the card game was a metaphor for culture.
3.The younger partner share how the fishbowl is like a culture.
Today, let's examine a real life cultural situation.
The Danish mother visiting NYC.
For example, it is normal for Danish parents to leave their babies in a buggy while they eat inside a restaurant. American culture, especially New Yorkers do not accept this. But this is very accepted in many Scandanavian cultures. So when a Danish mom left her child outside in a baby buggy for over an hour while she ate dinner in a restaurant, it created quite a stir among New Yorkers.
In this scenario, who experienced culture shock? Ethnocentrism? And, who was culturally relative?
Could sociology have helped all of the participants to be more understanding of each other? Have you ever been to a foreign culture and experienced culture shock?
My best example of culture shock was the Japanese toilet. At first, the experience
can be a culture shock as the traditional Japanese toilet is very
different from ours. As we examine this toilet as well as other
cultural components we must remember to be culturally relative. In
other words, try not to be ethnocentric, but in stead understand each
culture from its own perspective.
When understanding culture, sociologists examine material culture
(things) and non-material culture (gestures, language, norms, values).
Material culture often reflects non-material culture.
In the case of the Japanese toilet,
not only does it look and function differently from ours, but it also
represents fundamentally different non-material culture. The Japanese are very germ conscious and they try hard not to
spread germs. They also do not have a lot of furniture - they do not
sit on furniture in their houses so why would they sit on a porcelain
throne in a bathroom? And finally, they are used to sitting and
squatting in positions difficult for westerners.
The Japanese do have a "Western style" toilet that is more like the toilet we are used to however, it still represents differences in both - its material and non-material culture.
In either case, the point is that there is nothing natural about culture. In other words, there are no weird ways of doing things that come quite natural to us. There are only different ways of doing things. And material culture, although physically different, often represents a different non-material culture, such as a different way of thinking about the world.
Another example would be how people eat around the world. That is, what utensils they eat with.