Intercultural Harmony
  Using the Curriculum Principles Definitions Quotations Step by Step Exercises Bibliography Home


Definitions



Culture is a framework for behavior. It consists of human made guidelines, written and unwritten. It is the central element of all relations among peoples because it relates to human creativity beyond the scope of politics. It is a social system of meaning and custom that is developed by a group of people to assure its adaptation and survival. Culture is characterized by a set of unspoken rules that shape values, beliefs, habits, patterns of thinking, behaviors and styles of communication (see bibliography for references).

Cultural Armamentarium includes the vast wealth of human experience developed over the centuries by particular cultures. It is the accumulated knowledge of a culture. When encountering new settings, it might need adaptation.

Cultural Assumptions are the clusters of beliefs or values consciously or unconsciously held strongly by members who tend to assume they are universally held.

Cultural Context is the environment in which people do things in specific cultures. It relates to the fact that no human action takes place in a vacuum one behavior tends to develop and fit a broad set of external circumstances.

Cultural Pluralism or Cultural Diversity is the recognition of the contribution of each group to the common civilization. It encourages the maintenance and development of different life styles, languages and convictions. It is a commitment to deal cooperatively with common concerns. It strives to create the conditions of harmony and respect within a culturally diverse society (Community Builder’s Tool Kit).

Dialogue is the relationship we enter when we want to explore, discover and learn from another. Dialogue across cultures calls for patience, tolerance and willingness to give and take. It involves success and failure (Singh, 2002).

Discrimination, when it is used in connection with prejudice it implies action based on prejudice. The word has other meanings in the English language such as “having a discriminating taste” in dress, or food, etc.

Forgiveness is the process of overcoming feelings of rage, despair and the attempts to free oneself from those painful emotions.

High- and Low-Context cultures were first addressed by E.T. Hall (1981). The terms “high” and “low” have nothing to do with the status of any culture but are good shorthand for a number of characteristics. High-context cultures are those in which the meaning of someone's words and actions is derived or contextualized from the environment in which the words are spoken. People from high-context cultures often send more information implicitly, have a wider topical or subject matter "network," and thus tend to be informed on many subjects. High-context cultures place greater importance on intuition and reflection and tend to emphasize ambience, decorum, the relative status of the participants in communication, and the manner in which a message is delivered. Low-context cultures are those in which communication is less dependent on history or narratives or stories. People tend to focus on specific subjects of their own interests. Low-context cultures tend to want to emphasize the content of a communication rather than the way in which something is communicated, an attitude that might be expressed in the phrase "cut to the chase." Low-context cultures depend less on the context of a situation and tend to be analytical and action-orientated.

 

 


Institutional Racism
is anonymous, subtle and systemic discrimination based on race in legal instruments, in private organizations and professions (educational, legal, health care, political, religious, etc.), private businesses and public decision-making bodies. Because this form of racism is anonymous and built into standard institutional practice, individuals often resist acknowledging its existence and deny, consciously or unconsciously, their complicity in maintaining it. Examples of institutionalized racism include policies and practices that arbitrarily govern a person’s credit-worthiness; determine what information, positive or negative, is presented in the media about individuals involved in newsworthy events; or place undue value on selective educational experiences or qualifications in establishing promotion criteria in jobs and schools (Community Builder’s Tool Kit).

Low-context Cultures see high-context cultures.

Multicultural Education refers first to building an awareness of one’s own cultural heritage and understanding that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another; secondly, to acquiring those skills in analysis and communication that help one function effectively in multicultural environments (Community Builder’s Tool Kit).

Prejudice is a pre-judgement or unjustifiable and usually negative attitude of one type of individual or group toward another group and its members. Such negative attitudes are typically based on unsupported generalizations (or negative stereotypes) that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics (Community Builder’s Tool Kit). In relation to stereotypes, not all are negative and many are simply forms of generalizing information so that people can have guidelines. For understanding, the important thing is to remember that all groups are varied within themselves.

Racism is an ideological system of oppression and subjugation, held consciously or otherwise, based upon unfounded beliefs about racial and ethnic inequality. This system of oppression is based on a view that an arbitrary set of physical characteristics, such as skin color, facial form or eye shape, are associated with or even determine behavior, culture, intellect or social achievement (Community Builder’s Tool Kit).

Reconciliation is “the preparedness of people who have been divided to consider sharing a future together” (Rigby and Rank, 2002).

Transformative Language is made up of words and actions that are appropriate to the context of a culture and help negotiate difference.

Return to Top

 
Copyright © Arizona Board of Regents | Privacy | Accessibility
Link to the College of Extended Education Website