Deep culture: the hidden challenges ... - Google BooksThis is a link to a Google Scholar preview of the book by Joseph Shaules, Deep Culture: The Hidden Challenges of Global Living
Deep culture: the hidden challenges ... - Google Books
I am taking a class on Intercultural Communication. The premise of Chapter 1 of this book is that there are things about our culture, any and each culture, that define the culture and are so fundamental, pervasive, and a part of our makeup that we do not have to consider them as we go about our daily lives as part of that culture. It is when we encounter another culture - maybe through "culture shock", that we realize the nature of our own enculturation. It is partly things we take for granted, that everyone in a monoculture have to deal with, the basic rules of the game, so to speak. However this deep culture is not a trivial thing. When you travel or meet someone from another culture this deep culture is not easily recognized by a quick trip as a tourist or even in a work relationship with someone of another culture. Probably you have experienced this yourself when it becomes clear that though someone else thinks they know all about you and understand you, have got you figured out, you know they really don't. There is a lot that goes into why we do what we do, why we feel how we do, why we think about life how we do. This is not something that can be picked up by viewing a culture, having cultural experiences as an outsider.
It is important to understand your own deep culture in order to begin to understand the deep culture of another. These are things we grow up with, and aren't even conscious that they are part of our make up. One of the keys to understanding another deep culture is individual attitude. Acknowledging that another’s culture has validity for them as much as your own does for yourself is a start. Being open to learn without making judgments based on your own ethnocentrism is fundamental. This is leap into the unknown for each individual. [Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke said, “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.”] Getting to know the deep culture of another culture is a commitment to be open to new possibilities.
This commitment might begin with trying to learn about a culture, it history, geography, language, customs, but though that has value in itself, it is just the beginning, a framework, for understanding about the deep culture. People who spend significant time, with significant commitment to learn without prejudice, have a better chance of really coming to understand deep culture. The author has tried to identify some of the approaches to learning about what goes into the composition of deep culture that would fit one to begin to come to know another culture.
Analyzing the system of similarities between the deep cultures of different groups gives us a heads up as to what is important to notice – the similarities and differences with the components of our own deep culture. I agree that it seems like the keys to understanding could be taught. For culture specific understanding, you’d be on your own, but you could learn how to learn, learn some tools. Again, personal commitment to do that – and risk changing some of your own notions about others’, and your own construct system.
I was fascinated by the notion that sojourns are all very different experiences. The several interviewees all had individual experiences and reactions. Again, attitude going in (personality type?) is what made the difference, I think. What might have been done to create different, more personally satisfying outcomes? Maybe we should start with children teaching them to seek to learn about other cultures? When my husband was stationed in Germany with the US Army we lived on the economy, renting an apartment from a German family. We did not commit to the German culture as anything more than tourists. Our lives centered around the American military community. It really did not occur to me, a new bride, and a new mother, to try to do much of anything else. I do remember though that my husband had materials from an orientation he received when he first arrived in-country concerning how he should act as an American soldier in West Germany. I supposed that this was directed at preventing faux pas and incidents with the Polezei and the MPs. That is worth something, but it is on the other end of the spectrum from the experience of some soldiers who married local nationals, took a European out, and raised their family in Germany. Good for them, too!
My brother with the Wycliffe Bible Translators learns about all this. I am gaining a greater respect for him and his work, and for his wife and children, in what they experience. The commitment is through love and Christian service. I am encouraged to serve as a service missionary someday. My interest in this course was because of the Seniors Advocacy certificate program. As a lot of people in the U.S. live to old age, including people for whom the U.S. is an adopted culture, understanding more about what they might have gone through, and what they might revert to (Alzheimers, etc.) might help me serve them and their families better. End of life issues often guide a person to try to make sense of things they have been through in their lives. Validation that they’re not alone in their experiences and helping to articulate some of the lessons learned to leave that legacy for their families is important. I would like to learn more about that. I think there must be an internal intercultural dialog that can go on, that would span the changes in cultures over your lifetime.