Understanding the Global Community – Defining Culture and Identity

Understanding the Global Community – Defining Culture and Identity


>>>>Dean Grillot: As we begin to talk about
the subject of culture and identity, it’s important to first start with defining those
concepts. It’s a bit difficult to really understand exactly what we mean by culture and identity,
but there is one organization — a very reputable organization, UNESCO — that provides us this
definition of culture. According to UNESCO: “Culture is the set of distinctive spiritual,
material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group that encompasses
not only art and literature, but lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions
and beliefs.” Other definitions of culture tend to emphasize things like symbols, those
things that bind us together in society, history, background, all the things that really make
us feel like we are a community. But it does emphasize differences, cultural differences,
and the ways in which they can be distinct. Think about culture shock, right? When you
travel from one country to another you sometimes experience this feeling of culture shock.
You leave one culture, one way of life that which may may feel very comfortable to you,
and you then insert yourself into another culture and another way of life. And sometimes
that can be a bit shocking to your system, right, to have to learn to interact with one
another in a different way, acknowledge certain reference points within society. This can
be a shock to one’s system — and that’s why we call it culture shock. As an extension
of culture we can look at this concept: social identity. Social identity are those things
that bind us together within society and make us feel like we are a social collective. Now
social identity really comes from this concept of individual identity, the fact that all
of us individually have a particular way of seeing the world, interacting with one another
based on our own individual concepts of self, our own individual roles. So think about as
an individual, I might see myself as: a mother, a teacher, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a
friend. These are all the different roles that make up me, my identity, and how I see
myself and how I interact with others. Interacting with my daughter as a mother, interacting
with my students as a teacher, interacting with my friends as a friend. Similar to individual
identity social groups and societies also have a concept of self and also take on certain
roles that they play vis-à-vis one another. This really reflects cultural attitudes, cultural
beliefs, various backgrounds and histories that are shared within society. That social
identity then, is what really reflects a certain sense of belonging, community and solidarity.
So now that we’ve explored these concepts of culture and identity, let’s do a little
exercise and think about your own identities and how those relate to your social interactions.
So I mentioned my own set of roles and how those make up my identity right? Mother, wife,
daughter, teacher, friend, etcetera. Think about how you define yourself and all the
various roles that you play in society, and then think about how those are relational
in nature. In the sense that a mother relates to a daughter, a daughter relates to a mother–
these are relations, right? So think about how your roles define your social interaction.
Similarly, let’s think about our identities in terms of nesting. Let’s just think about
location for example. So as a Normanite, right, I’m that’s my, my bottom nest. I’m a Normanite,
I’m an Oklahoman, I’m somebody from the Central Plains, I’m somebody from the United States
of America, an American and then the global community. So I have these, this nested sense
of self that has to do with, with place and where I come from. Think about that in terms
of your own location and your own understanding of your identity vis-à-vis your community.
Are these things competing? Do all of our identities compete with one another? Can they
nest with one another? Are they coexistent? How might they explain your interactions with
your social community? So give it some thought, provide us that illustration, and really think
about how you as an individual relate and interact with your social community, with
the global community.

2 thoughts on “Understanding the Global Community – Defining Culture and Identity

  1. i have to write an essay about this im dying inside it's 3am and my brain as become pudding for the lord have mercy on my small heart .

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