Chapter 5: Cultural Identity

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the influence of culture on social and self-identity
  • Discuss how personal, cultural, and universal identities shape perceptions
  • Illustrate the relationship between self and social labels on status
  • Assess the impact of technological advances and innovation on identity

5.1 Identity Formation

Trying to figure out who you are, what you value and believe, and why you think the way you do is a lifelong process. In the first chapter of Thinking Well, Stewart E. Kelly suggests, “we all have lenses through which we view reality, and we need to know what our individual lens is composed of and how it influences our perception of reality.” Take a moment to reflect and hypothetically paint a picture of yourself with words. Try to capture the core of your being by describing who you are. Once you have formulated a description of yourself, evaluate what you wrote. Does your description focus on your personal characteristics or your cultural characteristics you learned from other people in your life (i.e., family, friends, congregation, teachers, community, etc.)?

Cultural identity, like culture itself, is a social construct. The values, beliefs, norms, expressive symbols, practices, and artifacts we hold develop from the social relationships we experience throughout our lives. Not only does cultural identity make us aware of who we are, but it also defines what we stand for in comparison to others. Cultural identity is relational between individuals, groups, and society meaning through culture people are able to form social connections or refrain from them. It is real to each of us with real social consequences.

As defined in Module 1, we learn culture through the process of enculturation. Socializing agents including family, peers, school, work, and the media transmit traditions, customs, language, tools, and common experiences and knowledge. The passage of culture from one generation to the next ensures sustainability of that culture by instilling specific traits and characteristics of a group or society that become part of each group member’s identity.

Identity Labels and Categories

Identity shapes our perceptions and the way we categorize people. Our individual and collective views influence our thinking. Regardless of personal, cultural, or universal identity people naturally focus on traits, values, behaviors, and practices or behaviors they identify with and have a tendency to dismiss those they do not.

Age Cohorts
Our numeric ranking of age is associated with particular cultural traits. Even the social categories we assign to age express cultural characteristics of that age group or cohort. Age signifies one’s cultural identity and social status (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Many of the most common labels we use in society signify age categories and attributes. For example, the terms “newborns and infants “generally refer to children from birth to age four, whereas “school-age
children” signifies youngsters old enough to attend primary school.

Each age range has social and cultural expectations placed upon by others (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). We have limited social expectations of newborns, but we expect infants to develop some language skills and behaviors like “potty training” or the practice of controlling bowel movements. Even though cultural expectations by age vary across other social categories (e.g., gender, geography, ethnicity, etc.), there are universal stages and understanding of intellectual, personal, and social development associated with each age range or cohort.

Throughout a person’s life course, they will experience and transition across different cultural phases and stages. Life course is the period from one’s birth to death (Griffiths et al. 2015). Each stage in the life course aligns with age-appropriate values, beliefs, norms, expressive language, practices, and artifacts. Like other social categories, age can be a basis of social ranking (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Society finds it perfectly acceptable for a baby or infant to wear a diaper but considers it a taboo or fetish among an adult 30 years old. However, diaper wearing becomes socially acceptable again as people age into senior years of life when biological functions become harder to control. This is also an illustration of how people will experience more than one age-based status during their lifetime.

Aging is a human universal (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Maneuvering life’s course is sometimes challenging. Cultural socialization occurs throughout the life course. Learning the cultural traits and characteristics needed at certain stages of life is important for developing self-identity and group acceptance. People engage in anticipatory socialization to prepare for future life roles or expectations (Griffiths et al. 2015). By engaging in social interactions with other people, we learn the cultural traits, characteristics, and expectations in preparation for the next phase or stage of life. Thinking back to “potty training” infants, parents and caregivers teach young children to control bowel movements so they are able to urinate and defecate in socially appropriate settings (i.e., restroom or outhouse) and times.

Generations have collective identity or shared experiences based on the time-period the group lived. Consider the popular culture of the 1980s to today. In the 1980s, people used a landline or fixed line phone rather than a cellular phone to communicate and went to a movie theater to see a film rather than downloaded a video to a mobile device. Therefore, someone who spent his or her youth and most of their adulthood without or with limited technology may not deem it necessary to have or operate it in daily life. Whereas, someone born in the 1990s or later will only know life with technology and find it a necessary part of human existence.

Each generation develops a perspective and cultural identify from the time and events surrounding their life. Generations experience life differently resulting from cultural and social shifts over time. The difference in life experience alters perspectives towards values, beliefs, norms, expressive symbols, practices, and artifacts. Political and social events often mark an era and influence generations. The ideology of white supremacy reinforced by events of Nazi Germany and World War II during the 1930s and 1940s instilled racist beliefs in society. Many adults living at this time believed the essays of Arthur Gobineau (1853-1855) regarding the existence of biologically differences between racial groups (Biddis 1970). It was not until the 1960s and 1970s when philosophers and critical theorists studied the underlying structures in cultural products and used analytical concepts from linguistics, anthropology, psychology, and sociology to interpret race discovering no biological or phenological variances between human groups and finding race is a social construct (Black and Solomos 2000). Scientists found cultural likeness did not equate to biological likeness. Nonetheless, many adults living in the 1930s and 1940s held racial beliefs of white supremacy throughout their lives because of the ideologies spread and shared during their lifetime. Whereas, modern science verifies the DNA of all people living today is 99.9% alike and a new generation of people are learning that there is only one human race despite the physical variations in size, shape, skin tone, and eye color (Smithsonian 2018).

Because there are diverse cultural expectations based on age, there can be conflict between age cohorts and generations. Age stratification theorists suggest that members of society are classified and have social status associated to their age (Riley, Johnson, and Foner 1972). Conflict often develops from age associated cultural differences influencing social and economic power of age groups. For example, the economic power of working adults conflicts with the political and voting power of the retired or elderly.

Age and generational conflicts are also highly influenced by government or state-sponsored milestones. In the United States, there are several age-related markers including the legal age of driving (16 years old), use of tobacco products (21 years old), consumption of alcohol ( 21 years old), and age of retirement (65-70 years old). Regardless of knowledge, skill, or condition, people must abide by formal rules with the expectations assigned to the each age group within the law. Because age serves as a basis of social control and reinforced by the state, different age groups have varying access to political and economic power and resources (Griffiths et al. 2015). For example, the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not respect the abilities of the elderly by assigning a marker of 65-70 years old as the indicator for someone to become a dependent of the state and an economically unproductive member of society.

5.2 Sex and Gender

Each of us is born with physical characteristics that represent and socially assign our sex and gender. Sex refers to our biological differences and gender the cultural traits assigned to females and males (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Our physical make-up distinguishes our sex as either female or male implicating the gender socialization process we will experience throughout our life associated with becoming a woman or man.

Gender identity is an individual’s self-concept of being female or male and their association with feminine and masculine qualities. People teach gender traits based on sex or biological composition (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Our sex signifies the gender roles (i.e., psychological, social, and cultural) we will learn and experience as a member of society. Children learn gender roles and acts of sexism in society through socialization (Griffiths et al. 2015). Girls learn feminine qualities and characteristics and boys masculine ones forming gender identity. Children become aware of gender roles between the ages of two and three and by four to five years old, they are fulfilling gender roles based on their sex (Griffiths et al. 2015). Nonetheless, gender-based characteristics do not always match one’s self or cultural identity as people grow and develop.

Gender Labels

  1. Why do people need and use gender labels?
  2. Why do people create gender roles or expectations?
  3. Do gender labels and roles influence limitations on individuals or the social world? Explain.

Gender stratification focuses on the unequal access females have to socially valued resources, power, prestige, and personal freedom as compared to men based on differing positions within the socio-cultural hierarchy (Light, Keller, and Calhoun 1997). Traditionally, society treats women as second-class citizens in society. The design of dominant gender ideologies and inequality maintains the prevailing social structure, presenting male privilege as part of the natural order (Parenti 2006). Theorists suggests society is a male dominated patriarchy where men think of themselves as inherently superior to women resulting in unequal distribution of rewards between men and women (Henslin 2011).

Media portrays women and men in stereotypical ways that reflect and sustain socially endorsed views of gender (Wood 1994). Media affects the perception of social norms including gender. People think and act according to stereotypes associated with one’s gender broadcast by media (Goodall 2016). Media stereotypes reinforce gender inequality of girls and women. According to Wood (1994), the underrepresentation women in media implies that men are the cultural standard and women are unimportant or invisible. Stereotypes of men in media display them as independent, driven, skillful, and heroic lending them to higher-level positions and power in society.

In countries throughout the world, including the United States, women face discrimination in wages, occupational training, and job promotion (Parenti 2006). As a result, society tracks girls and women into career pathways that align with gender roles and match gender-linked aspirations such as teaching, nursing, and human services (Henslin 2011). Society views men’s work as having higher value than that of women. Even if women have the same job as men, they make 77 cents per every dollar in comparison (Griffiths et al. 2015). Inequality in career pathways, job placement, and promotion or advancement result in an income gap between genders effecting the buying power and economic vitality of women in comparison to men.

The United Nations found prejudice and violence against women are firmly rooted in cultures around the world (Parenti 2006). Gender inequality has allowed men to harness and abuse their social power. The leading cause of injury among women of reproductive age is domestic violence, and rape is an everyday occurrence and seen as a male prerogative throughout many parts of the world (Parenti 2006). Depictions in the media emphasize male dominant roles and normalize violence against women (Wood 1994). Culture plays an integral role in establishing and maintaining male dominance in society ascribing men the power and privilege that reinforces subordination and oppression of women.

Cross-cultural research shows gender stratification decreases when women and men make equal contributions to human subsistence or survival (Sanday 1974). Since the industrial revolution, attitudes about gender and work have been evolving with the need for women and men to contribute to the labor force and economy. Gendered work, attitudes, and beliefs have transformed in responses to American economic needs (Margolis 1984, 2000). Today’s society is encouraging gender flexibility resulting from cultural shifts among women seeking college degrees, prioritizing career, and delaying marriage and childbirth.

Self-role Inventory Traits

Your task is to find the ten words on the sex-role inventory trait list below that are most often culturally
associated with each of the following labels and categories: femininity, masculinity, wealth, poverty, President,
teacher, mother, father, minister, or athlete. Write down the label or category and ten terms to compare your
lists with other students.

1. self-reliant

2. yielding

3. helpful

4. defends own beliefs

5. cheerful

6. moody

7. independent

8. shy

9. conscientious

10. athletic

11. affectionate

12. theatrical

13. assertive

14. flatterable

15. happy

16. strong personality

17. loyal

18. unpredictable

19. forceful

20. feminine

21. reliable

22. analytical

23. sympathetic

24. jealous

25. leadership ability

26. sensitive to other’s needs

27. truthful

28. willing to take risks

29. understanding

30. secretive

31. makes decisions easily

32. compassionate

33. sincere

34. self-sufficient

35. eager to soothe hurt feelings

36. conceited

37. dominant

38. soft-spoken

39. likable

40. masculine

41. warm

42. solemn

43. willing to take a stand

44. tender

45. friendly

46. aggressive

47. gullible

48. inefficient

49. act as leader

50. childlike

51. adaptable

52. individualistic

53. does not use harsh


54. unsystematic

55. competitive

56. loves children

57. tactful

58. ambitious

59. gentle

60. conventional

Compare your results with other students in the class and answer the following questions:

  1. What are the trait similarities and commonalities between femininity, masculinity, wealth, poverty, President, teacher, mother, father, minister, and athlete?
  2. How are masculinity and femininity used as measures of conditions and vocations?

5.3 Sexuality and Sexual Orientation

Sexuality is an inborn person’s capacity for sexual feelings (Griffiths et al. 2015). Normative standards about sexuality are different throughout the world. Cultural codes prescribe sexual behaviors as legal, normal, deviant, or pathological (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). In the United States, people have restrictive attitudes about premarital sex, extramarital sex, and homosexuality compared to other industrialized nations (Griffiths et al. 2015). The debate on sex education in U.S. schools focuses on abstinence and contraceptive curricula. In addition, people in the U.S. have restrictive attitudes about women and sex, believing men have more urges and therefore it is more acceptable for them to have multiple sexual partners than women setting a double standard.

Sexual orientation is a biological expression of sexual desire or attraction (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Culture sets the parameters for sexual norms and habits. Enculturation dictates and controls social acceptance of sexual expression and activity. Eroticism like all human activities and preferences is learned and malleable (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Sexual orientation labels categorize personal views and representations of sexual desire and activities. Most people ascribe and conform to the sexual labels constructed and assigned by society (i.e., heterosexual or desire for the opposite sex, homosexual or attraction to the same sex, bisexual or appeal to both sexes, and asexual or lack of sexual attraction and indifference).

The projection of one’s sexual personality is often through gender identity. Most people align their sexual disposition with what is socially or publically appropriate (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Because sexual desire or attraction is inborn, people within the socio-sexual dominant group (i.e., heterosexual) often believe their sexual preference is “normal.” However, heterosexual fit or type is not normal. History has documented diversity in sexual preference and behavior since the dawn of human existence (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). There is diversity and variance in people’s libido and psychosocial relationship needs. Additionally, sexual activity or fantasy does not always align to sexual orientation (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Sexual pleasure from use of sexual toys, homoerotic images, or kinky fetishes do not necessarily correspond to a specific orientation, sexual label, or mean someone’s desire will alter or convert to another type because of the activity. Regardless, society uses sexual identity as an indicator of status dismissing the fact that sexuality is a learned behavior, flexible, and contextual (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). People feel and display sexual variety, erotic impulses, and sensual expressions throughout their lives.

Individuals develop sexual understanding around middle childhood and adolescence (APA 2008). There is no genetic, biological, developmental, social, or cultural evidence linked to homosexual behavior. The difference is in society’s discriminatory response to homosexuality. Alfred Kinsley was the first to identify sexuality is a continuum rather than a dichotomy of gay or straight (Griffiths et al. 2015). His research showed people do not necessarily fall into the sexual categories, behaviors, and orientations constructed by society. Eve Kosofky Sedgwick (1990) expanded on Kinsley’s research to find women are more likely to express homosocial relationships such as hugging, handholding, and physical closeness. Whereas, men often face negative sanctions for displaying homosocial behavior.

Society ascribes meaning to sexual activities (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Variance reflects the cultural norms and sociopolitical conditions of a time and place. Since the 1970s, organized efforts by LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) activists have helped establish a gay culture and civil rights (Herdt 1992). Gay culture provides social acceptance for persons rejected, marginalized, and punished by others because of sexual orientation and expression. Queer theorists are reclaiming the derogatory label to help in broadening the understanding of sexuality as flexible and fluid (Griffiths et al. 2015). Sexual culture is not necessarily subject to sexual desire and activity, but rather dominant affinity groups linked by common interests or purpose to restrict and control sexual behavior.

Geographic Region
The place people live or occupy renders a lifestyle and cultural identity. People identify with the geographic location they live in as a part of who they are and what they believe (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Places have subcultures specific to their geographic location, environmental surroundings, and population.

As one of the largest cities in the United States, New York City is home to 21 million together speaking over 200 languages (U.S. News and World Report 2017). The city itself is fast-paced and its large population supports the need for around the clock services as the “city that never sleeps.” With so many people living in the metropolis, it is a diverse melting pot of racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds though each neighborhood is its own enclave with its own identity. This large, heterogeneous population effects the impersonal, sometimes characterized as “dismissive and arrogant” attitudes of its residents. By the very nature and size of the city, people are able to maintain anonymity but cannot develop or sustain intimacy with the entire community or its residents. With millions of diverse people living, working, and playing in 304 square miles, it is understandable why tourists or newcomers feel that residents are in a rush, rude, and unfriendly.

On the opposite side of the nation in the Central Valley of California, many residents live in rural communities. The Central Valley is home to 6.5 million people across 18,000 square miles (American Museum of Natural History 2018). Though there is a large, metropolitan hub of Fresno, surrounding communities identify themselves as small, agricultural with a country lifestyle. Here residents seek face-to-face interactions and communities operate as kin or families.

Like other social categories or labels, people use location to denote status or lifestyle. Consider people in the U.S. who “live in Beverly Hills” or “work on Wall Street.” These locations imply socio-economic status and privilege. Values of a dominant regional culture marginalize those who do not possess or have the cultural characteristics of that geographic location (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). People who do not culturally fit in a place face social stigma and rejection.

People move to explore new areas, experience new cultures, or change status. Changing where we live means changing our social and cultural surroundings including the family, friends, acquaintances, etc. The most desirable spaces are distributed inequitably (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Wealth and privilege provide access to desirable locations and living conditions. The poor, immigrants, and ethnic minorities are most likely to be concentrated in poor communities with less than optimal living standards (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Impoverished groups are the most likely to be exposed to environmental hazards and dangerous living conditions. The disproportionate impact of ecological hazards on people of color has led to the development of the environmental justice movement to abolish environmental racism and harm (Energy Justice Network 2018).

Geographic places also convey or signify stereotypes. People living in or being from an area inherent the region’s stereotypes whether they are accurate or not. Think about the previous U.S. examples of “living in Beverly Hills” or “working on Wall Street.” Stereotypes associated with these labels imply wealth and status. However, approximately 10% of people living in Beverly Hills are living below the poverty rate and most people employed on Wall Street do not work for financial institutions instead are police, sanitation workers, street vendors, and public employees to name a few (Data USA 2018).

Your Regional Culture

The place someone lives influences his or her value system and life. Describe the geographic location you live and the culture of your community. What values and beliefs do the social norms and practices of your neighborhood instill or project among residents? What type of artifacts or possessions (i.e., truck, luxury car, recreational vehicle, fenced yard, swimming pool, etc.) do people living in your community seek out, dismiss, or condone? Do you conform to the cultural standards where you live or deviate from them? Explain how the place you live influences your perceptions, choices, and life.


5.4 Body and Mind

Like other human characteristics, society constructs meaning and defines normality to physical and mental ability and appearance (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Behavior categorized as “normal” is the standard for determining appropriate thinking and behavior from an illness or disorder. An example of this construct is the criteria for determining mental illness that involves examining a person’s functionality around accepted norms, roles, status, and behavior appropriate for social situations and settings (Cockerham 2014). The difficulty in defining mental disorders, similar to defining other illness or deformities, is the ever-changing perspectives of society. For example, “homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by American psychiatrists until the early 1970s” (Cockerham, 2014:3). Other terms and classifications have either been eliminated or evolved over time including Melancholia (now Depression), Amentia (once referred to Mental Retardation is no longer used), and Neurosis
(which is now classified into subtypes).

Primitive society believed mental illness derived from supernatural phenomena (Cockerham 2014). Because mental disorders were not always observable, people thought supernatural powers were the cause of illness. These preliterate cultures assumed people became sick because they lost their soul, invaded by an evil spirit, violated a taboo, or were victims of witchcraft (Cockerham 2014). Witch doctors or shamans used folk medicine and religious beliefs to produce cures. Many of these healers older in age, had high intellect, were sometimes sexual deviants, orphans, disabled, or mentally ill themselves (Cockerham 2014). Nonetheless, healers helped reduce anxiety and reinforce faith in social norms and customs.

Both physical and mental health conditions become part of a person’s identity. Medical professionals, as was the case with witch doctors and shamans, play a role in labeling illness or defect internalizing a person’s condition as part of one’s identity (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). As a result, the culture free, scientific objectivity of medicine has come into question. For centuries in western society, science sought to validate religious ideologies and text including the
natural inferiority of women and the mental and moral deficiencies of people of color and the poor (Parenti 2006). Many scientific opinions about the body and mind of minority groups have been disproven and found to be embellished beliefs posing as objective findings. Medicine and psychiatry like other aspects of social life have entrenched interests and do not always come from a place of bias-free science.

People adopt behaviors to minimize the impact of their illness or ailment on others. A sick person assumes a sick role when ill and not held responsible for their poor health or disorder, the sick individual is entitled release from normal responsibilities and must take steps to regain his or her health under care of a physician or medical expert (Parsons 1951). Because society views illness as a dysfunction or abnormality, people who are ill or have a condition learn the sick role or social expectations to demonstrate their willingness to cooperate with society though they are unable to perform or maintain standard responsibilities (i.e., attend school, work, participate in physical activity, etc.).

Social attributes around an ideal body and mind center on youthfulness and wellness without deformity or defect. Though a person’s physical and mental health ultimately affects them intrinsically, society influences the social or extrinsic experience related to one’s body and mind attributes. People face social stigma when they suffer from an illness or condition. Erving Goffman (1963) defined stigma as an unwanted characteristic that is devalued by society.
Society labels health conditions or defects (e.g., cancer, diabetes, mental illness, disability, etc.) as abnormal and undesirable creating a negative social environment for people with physical or mental differences.

Individuals with health issues or disparities face suspicion, hostility, or discrimination (Giddens, Duneier, Applebaum, and Carr 2013). Social stigma accentuates one’s illness or disorder marginalizing and alienating persons with physical or cognitive limitations. During the Middle Ages, the mentally ill were categorized as fools and village idiots. Some people were tolerated for amusement, others lived with family, and some were placed on ships for placement at a distant place (Cockerham 2014). People often blame the victim suggesting one’s illness or disability resulted from personal choice or behavior, and it is their responsibility to resolve, cope, and adapt. Blaming the victim ignores the reality that an illness or defect is always be preventable, people cannot always afford health care or purchase the medications to prevent or alleviate conditions, and care or treatment is not always available.

Social stigma often results in individuals avoiding treatment for fear of social labeling, rejection, and isolation. One in four persons worldwide will suffer a mental disorder in their lifetime (Cockerham 2014). In a recent study of California residents, data showed approximately 77% of the population with mental health needs received no or inadequate treatment (Tran and Ponce 2017). Children, older adults, men, Latinos, and Asians, people with low education, the uninsured, and limited English speakers were most likely to have an unmet need of treatment. Respondents in the study reported the cost of treatment and social stigma were the contributing factors to not receiving treatment. Untreated mental disorders have high economic and social costs including alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, domestic violence, suicide, and unemployment (Cockerham 2014). The lack of treatment have devastating effects on those in need, their families, and society.

Society promotes health and wellness as the norm and ideal life experience. Media upholds these ideals by portraying the body as a commodity and the value of being young, fit, and strong (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). This fitness-minded culture projects individuals who are healthy and well with greater social status than those inflicted with illness or body and mind differences. In today’s society, there is low tolerance for unproductive citizens characterized by the inability to work and contribute to the economy. Darwinian (1859) ideology embedded in modern day principles promote a culture of strength, endurance, and self-reliance under the guise of survival of the fittest. This culture reinforces the modern-day values of productivity associated to one being healthy and well in order to compete, conquer, and be successful in work and life.

There are body and mind differences associated with age, gender, and race. Ideal, actual, and normal body characteristics vary from culture to culture and even within one culture over time (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Nonetheless, cultures throughout the world are obsessed with youth and beauty. We see examples of this in media and fashion where actors and models are fit to match regional stereotypes of the young and beautiful. In the United States, most Hollywood movies portray heroines and heroes who are fit without ailment or defect, under the age of 30, and reinforce beauty labels of hyper-femininity (i.e., thin, busty, sexy, cooperative, etc.) and hyper-masculinity (i.e., built, strong, aggressive, tough, etc.). The fashion industry also emphasizes this body by depicting unrealistic ideals of beauty for people to compare themselves while nonetheless achievable by buying the clothes and products models sell.

Body and mind depictions in the media and fashion create appearance stereotypes that imply status and class. If one contains the resources to purchase high-end brands or expense apparel, she or he are able to project status through wealth. If one is attractive, she or he are able to project status through beauty. Research shows stereotypes influence the way people speak to each other. People respond warm and friendly to attractive people and cold, reserved, and humorless to unattractive (Snyder 1993). Additionally, attractive people earn 10-15% more than ordinary or unattractive people (Judge et al. 2009; Hamermesh 2011). We most also note, if one is able to achieve beauty through plastic surgery or exercise and have no health conditions or deformities, they are also more likely to be socially accepted and obtain status.

People with disabilities have worked to dispel misconceptions, promote nondiscrimination, and fair representation (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Individuals with body and mind illnesses and differences form support groups and establish membership or affinity based on their condition to organize politically. By acknowledging differences and demanding civil rights, people with illnesses and disabilities are able to receive equal treatment and protection under the law eliminating the stigma and discriminatory labels society has long placed on them. Political organization for social change has given people with body and mind differences the ability to redefine culture and insist on social inclusion and participation of all people regardless of physical or mental differences, challenges, or limitations.

An illustration of civil rights changes occurred in the 20th century with a paradigm shift and growth of professionals, paraprofessionals, and laypeople in mental health (Cockerham 2014). Treatment altered to focus on psychoanalysis and psychoactive drugs rather than institutionalization. With this new approach, hospital discharges increased and hospitalization stays decreased (Cockerham 2014). The most recent revolution in mental health treatment was the development of the community mental health model. The model emphasizes local community support as a method of treatment where relationships are the focus of care. This therapeutic approach uses mental health workers who live in the community to fill the service gaps between the patient and professionals stressing a social rather than medical model (Cockerham 2014). The community mental health model extends civil rights putting consent to treatment and service approach in the hands of patients.


5.5 Race and Ethnicity


There are two myths or ideas about race. The first suggests people inherit physical characteristics distinguishing race. Second, the idea that one race is superior to others or that one “pure” race exists. In actuality, scientific research mapping of the human genome system found that humans are homogenous (Henslin 2011). Race is truly an arbitrary label that has become part of society’s culture with no justifiable evidence to support differences in physical appearance substantiate the idea that there are a variety of human species. Traditionally, racial terms classify and stratify people by appearance and inherently assign racial groups as inferior or superior in society (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Scientific data finds only one human species making up only one human race. Evidence shows physical differences in human appearance including skin color are a result of human migration patterns and adaptions to the environment (Jablonski 2012). Nonetheless, people use physical characteristics to identify, relate, and interact with one another.

Ethnicity refers to the cultural characteristics related to ancestry and heritage. Ethnicity describes shared culture such as group practices, values, and beliefs (Griffiths et al. 2015). People who identify with an ethnic group share common cultural characteristics (i.e., nationality, history, language, religion, etc.). Ethnic groups select rituals, customs, ceremonies, and other traditions to help preserve shared heritage (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Lifestyle requirements and other identity characteristics such as geography and region influence how we adapt our ethnic behaviors to fit the context or setting in which we live. Culture is also key in determining how human bodies grow and develop such as food preferences and diet and cultural traditions promote certain activities and abilities including physical well-being and sport (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Someone of Mexican decent living in Central California who is a college professor will project different ethnic behaviors than someone of the same ethnic culture who is a housekeeper in Las Vegas, Nevada. Differences in profession, social class, and region will influence each person’s lifestyle, physical composition, and health though both may identify and affiliate themselves as Mexican.

Not all people see themselves as belonging to an ethnic group or view ethnic heritage as important to their identity. People who do not identify with an ethnic identity either have no distinct cultural background because their ancestors come from a variety of cultural groups and offspring have not maintained a specific culture, instead have a blended culture, or they lack awareness about their ethnic heritage (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). It may be difficult for some people to feel a sense of solidarity or association with any specific ethnic group because they do not know where their cultural practices originated and how their cultural behaviors adapted over time. What is your ethnicity? Is your ethnic heritage very important, somewhat important, or not important in defining who you are? Why?

Race and ethnic identity like other cultural characteristics influence social status or position in society. Minority groups are people who receive unequal treatment and discrimination based on social categories such as age, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, religious beliefs, or socio-economic class. Minority groups are not necessarily numerical minorities (Griffith et al. 2015). For example, a large group of people may be a minority group because they lack social power. The physical and cultural traits of minority groups “are held in low esteem by the dominant or majority group which treats them unfairly” (Henslin 2011:217). The dominant group has higher power and status in society and receives greater privileges. As a result, the dominant group uses its position to discriminate against those that are different. The dominant group in the United States is represented by white, middle-class, Protestant people of northern European descent (Doane 2005). Minority groups can garner power by expanding political boundaries or through expanded migration though both of these efforts do not occur with ease and require societal support from minority and dominant group members. The loss of power among dominant groups threatens not only their authority over other groups but also the privileges and way of life established by the majority.

There are seven patterns of intergroup relations between dominant and minority groups influencing not only the racial and ethnic identity of people but also the opportunities and barriers each will experience through social interactions. Maladaptive contacts and exchanges include genocide, population transfer, internal colonialism, and segregation. Genocide attempts to destroy a group of people because of their race or ethnicity. “Labeling the targeted group as inferior or even less than fully human facilitates genocide” (Henslin 2011:225). Population transfer moves or expels a minority group through direct or indirect transfer. Indirect transfer forces people to leave by making living conditions unbearable, whereas, direct transfer literally expels minorities by force.

Another form of rejection by the dominant group is a type of colonialism. Internal colonialism refers to a country’s dominant group exploiting the minority group for economic advantage. Internal colonialism generally accompanies segregation (Henslin 2011). In segregation, minority groups live physically separate from the dominant group by law.
Three adaptive intergroup relations include assimilation, multiculturalism, and pluralism. The pattern of assimilation is the process by which a minority group assumes the attitudes and language of the dominant or mainstream culture. An individual or group gives up its identity by taking on the characteristics of the dominant culture (Griffiths et al. 2015). When minorities assimilate by force to dominant ideologies and practices, they can no longer practice their own religion, speak their own language, or follow their own customs. In permissible assimilation, minority groups adopt the dominant culture in their own way and at their own speed (Henslin 2011).

Multiculturalism is the most accepting intergroup relationship between dominant and minority groups. Multiculturalism or pluralism encourages variation and diversity. Multiculturalism promotes affirmation and practice of ethnic traditions while socializing individuals into the dominant culture (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). This model works well in diverse societies comprised of a variety of cultural groups and a political system supporting freedom of
expression. Pluralism is a mixture of cultures where each retains its own identity (Griffiths et al. 2015). Under pluralism, groups exist separately and equally while working together such as through economic interdependence where each group fills a different societal niche then exchanges activities or services for the sustainability and survival of all. Both the multicultural and pluralism models stress interactions and contributions to their society by all ethnic groups.

Reducing Ethnic Conflict

Research three online sources on methods and approaches to reducing ethnic conflict such as the following:

  1. What is your reaction or feelings about the suggestions or ideas for ending ethnic conflicts presented in the sources you identified?

  2. Why does type of leadership, approaches to diplomacy, and collective or organizational design matter in reducing ethnic conflicts?

  3. What is the most important idea from the sources you identified as they relate to peacekeeping and multiculturalism?

Race reflects a social stigma or marker of superiority (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). When discrimination centers on race, it is racism. There are two types of racial discrimination: individual and institutional. Individual discrimination is “unfair treatment directed against someone” (Henslin 2011:218). Whereas, institutional discrimination is negative systematic treatment of individuals by society through education, government, economy, health care, etc. According to Perry (2000), when people focus on racial-ethnic differences, they engage in the process of identity formation through structural and institutional norms. As a result, racial-ethnic identity conforms to normative perceptions people have of race and ethnicity reinforcing the structural order without challenging the socio-cultural arrangement of society. Maintaining racial-ethnic norms reinforces differences, creates tension, and disputes between racial-ethnic groups sustaining the status quo and reasserting the dominant groups’ position and hierarchy in society.

Upon the establishment of the United States, white legislators and leaders limited the roles of racial minorities and made them subordinate to those of white Europeans (Konradi and Schmidt 2004). This structure systematically created governmental and social disadvantages for minority groups and people of color. Today, toxic waste dumps continue to be disproportionately located in areas with nonwhite populations (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). It has taken over 200 years to ensure civil rights and equal treatment of all people in the United States; however, discriminatory practices continue because of policies, precedents, and practices historically embedded in U.S. institutions and individuals behaving from ideas of racial stereotypes. Think about the differences people have in employment qualifications, compensation, obtaining home loans, or getting into college. What racial and ethnic stereotypes persist about different racial and ethnic groups in these areas of life?

Whites in the United States infrequently experience racial discrimination making them unaware of the importance of race in their own and others’ thinking in comparison to people of color or ethnic minorities (Konradi and Schmidt 2004). Many argue racial discrimination is outdated and uncomfortable with the blame, guilt, and accountability of individual acts and institutional discrimination. By paying no attention to race, people think racial equality is an act of color blindness and it will eliminate racist atmospheres (Konradi and Schmidt 2004). They do not realize the experience of not “seeing” race itself is racial privilege. Research shows the distribution of resources and opportunities are not equal among racial and ethnic categories, and White groups do better than other groups, and Blacks are predominantly among the underclass (Konradi and Schmidt 2004). Regardless of social perception, in reality, there are institutional and cultural differences in government, education, criminal justice, and media and racial-ethnic minorities received subordinate roles and treatment in society.


5.6 Religion and Belief Systems


The concept of a higher power or spiritual truth is a cultural universal. Like ethnicity, religion is the basis of identity and solidarity (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). People’s beliefs and faith support their values, norms, and practices. Individual faith influences one’s extrinsic motivation and behaviors including treatment of others. Religion is malleable and adaptive for it changes and adapts within cultural and social contexts. Human groups have diverse beliefs and different functions of their faith and religion. Historically, religion has driven both social union and division (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). When religious groups unite, they can be a strong mobilizing force; however, when they divide, they can work to destroy each other.

Religion is malleable and adaptive for it changes and adapts within cultural and social contexts. Human groups have diverse beliefs and different functions of their faith and religion. Historically, religion has driven both social union and division (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). When religious groups unite, they can be a strong mobilizing force; however, when they divide, they can work to destroy each other.

Religion may be formal or informal (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Someone who is a member of an organized religious group, attends religious services, and practices rituals is a participant in formal or institutional religion. Whereas, someone participating in informal religion may or may not be a member of an organized religious group and experiencing a communal spirit, solidarity, and togetherness through shared experience. Informal religion may occur when we participate as a member of a team or during a group excursion such as camp.

Religion is a vehicle for guiding values, beliefs, norms, and practices. People learn religion through socialization. The meaning and structure of religion controls lives through sanctions or rewards and punishments. Religion prescribes to a code of ethics to guide behavior (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). One who abides by religious teachings receives rewards such as afterlife and one who contradicts its instruction accepts punishment including damnation. People engage in religion and religious practices because they think it works (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). The connection between religious faith and emotion sustains belief playing a strong role on personal and social identity. What formal or informal religious experiences have you encountered during your life? How does your faith and spirituality conform or deviate from your family of origin and friends?

Social Class

A person’s socio-economic status influences her or his personal and social identity. In society, we rank individuals on their wealth, power, and prestige (Weber [1968] 1978). The calculation of wealth is the addition of one’s income and assets minus their debts. The net worth of a person is wealth whereas income from work and investments is the resources a person has available to access. Power is the ability to influence others directly or indirectly and prestige is
the esteem or respect associated with social status (Carl 2013). This social stratification system or ranking creates inequality in society and determines one’s social position in areas such as income, education, and occupation.

Multiple factors influence social standing, however, people often assume hard work and effort leads to a high status and wealth. Socialization reinforces the ideology that social stratification is a result of personal effort or merit (Carl 2013). The concept of meritocracy is a social ideal or value, but no society exists where the determination of social rank is purely on merit. Inheritance alone shows social standing is not always individually earned. Some people have to put little to no effort to inherit social status and wealth. Additionally, societies operating under a caste system where birth determines lifelong status undermines meritocracy. Caste systems function on the structure that someone born into a low-status group remains low status regardless of their accomplishments, and those born into high-status groups stay high status (Henslin 2011). The caste system reinforces ascribed status rather than achieved to ensure sustainment of multiple roles and occupations in society.

In modern societies, there is evidence of merit-based standing in academics and job performance but other factors such as age, disability, gender, race, and region influence life’s opportunities and challenges for obtaining social standing. A major flaw of meritocracy is how society measures social contributions. Janitorial and custodial work is necessary in society to reduce illness and manage waste just as much as surgery is to keep people healthy and alive, but surgeons receive greater rewards than janitors do for their contributions.

Marx and Engels (1967) suggested there is a social class division between the capitalists who control the means of production and the workers. In 1985, Erik Wright interjected that people can occupy contradictory class positions throughout their lifetime. People who have occupied various class positions (e.g., bookkeeper to manager to chief operating officer) relate to the experiences of others in those positions, and as a result, may feel internal conflict in handling situations between positions or favoring one over another. Late in the twentieth century, Joseph Kahl and Dennis Gilbert (1992) updated the theoretical perspective of Max Weber by developing a six-tier model portraying the United States class structure including underclass, working-poor, working, lower-middle, upper-middle, and capitalists. The social class model depicts the distribution of property, prestige, and power among society based on income and education.

Each class lifestyle requires a certain level of wealth in order to acquire the material necessities and comforts of life (Henslin 2011). The correlation between the standard of living and quality of life or life chances (i.e., opportunities and barriers) influences one’s ability to afford food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, other basic needs, and luxury items. A person’s standards of living including income, employment, class, and housing effects their cultural identity.

Social class serves as a marker or indication of resources. These markers are noticeable in the behaviors, customs, and norms of each stratified group (Carl 2013). People living in impoverished communities have different cultural norms and practices compared to those with middle incomes or families of wealth. For example, the urban poor often sleep on cardboard boxes on the ground or on sidewalks and feed themselves by begging, scavenging, and raiding garbage (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Middle income and wealth families tend to sleep in housing structures and nourish themselves with food from supermarkets or restaurants.

Language and fashion also vary among these classes because of educational attainment, employment, and income. People will use language like “white trash” or “welfare mom” to marginalize people in the lower class and use distinguished labels to identify the upper class such as “noble” and “elite.” Sometimes people often engage in conspicuous consumption or purchase and use certain products (e.g., buy a luxury car or jewelry) to make a social statement about their status (Henslin 2011). Nonetheless, the experience of poor people is very different in comparison to others in the upper and middle classes and the lives of people within each social class may vary based on their position within other social categories including age, disability, gender, race, region, and religion.

Similar to people, nations are also stratified. The most extreme social class differences are between the wealthiest in industrialized countries and the poorest in the least developed nations (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). The most industrialized or modern countries have the greatest property and wealth. Most industrialized nations are leaders in technology and progress allowing them to dominant, control, and access global resources. Industrializing nations have much lower incomes and standards of living than those living in most industrialized nations (Henslin 2011). The least industrialized nations are not modern, and people living in these nations tend to be impoverished and live on farms and in villages.

Hidden Rules of Class

Could you survive in poverty, middle class, or wealth? In her book A Framework for Understanding Poverty
(2005), Dr. Ruby K Payne presents lists of survival skills needed by different societal classes. Test your skills by
answering the following questions:

Could you survive in . . . (mark all that apply)


____ find the best rummage sales.
____ locate grocery stores’ garbage bins that have thrown away food.
____ bail someone out of jail.
____ get a gun, even if I have a police record.
____ keep my clothes from being stolen at the laundromat.
____ sniff out problems in a used car.
____ live without a checking account.
____ manage without electricity and a phone.
____ entertain friends with just my personality and stories.
____ get by when I don’t have money to pay the bills.
____ move in half a day.
____ get and use food stamps.
____ find free medical clinics.
____ get around without a car.
____ use a knife as scissors.
MIDDLE CLASS know how to….
____ get my children into Little League, piano lessons, and soccer.
____ set a table properly.
____ find stores that sell the clothing brands my family wears.
____ use a credit card, checking and /or savings account.
____ evaluate insurance: life, disability, 20/80 medical, homeowners, and personal property.
____ talk to my children about going to college.
____ get the best interest rate on my car loan.
____ help my children with homework and don’t hesitate to make a call if I need more information.
WEALTH, check if you….
____ can read a menu in French, English, and another language.
____ have favorite restaurants in different countries around the world.
____ know how to hire a professional decorator to help decorate your home during the holidays.
____ can name your preferred financial advisor, lawyer, designer, hairdresser, or domestic-employment                      service.
____ have at least two homes that are staffed and maintained.
____ know how to ensure confidentiality and loyalty with domestic staff.
____ use two or three “screens” that keep people whom you don’t wish to see away from you
____ fly in your own plane, the company plane, or the Concorde.
____ know how to enroll your children in the preferred private schools.
____ are on the boards of at least two charities.
____ know the hidden rules of the Junior League.
____ know how to read a corporate balance sheet and analyze your own financial statements.
____ support or buy the work of a particular artist.

5.7 Identity Today


All forms of media and technology teach culture including values, norms, language, and behaviors by providing information about activities and events of social significance (Griffiths et al. 2015). Media and technology socialize us to think and act within socio-cultural appropriate norms and accepted practices. Watching and listening to people act and behave through media and technology shows the influence this social institution has like family, peers, school, and work on teaching social norms, values, and beliefs.

Technological innovations and advancements have influenced social interactions and communication patterns in the twenty-first century creating new social constructions of reality. These changes, particularly in information technology, have led to further segmentation of society based on user-participant affinity groups (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). The internet and web-based applications link people together transecting local, state, and national boundaries centered on common interests. People who share interests, ideas, values, beliefs, and practices are able to connect to one another through web-based and virtual worlds. These shared interests create solidarity among user-participants while disengaging them from others with differing or opposing interests. Cybersocial interactions have reinforced affinity groups creating attitudes and behaviors that strongly encourage tribalism or loyalty to the social group and
indifference to others.

Even though there are so many media, news, and information outlets available online, they are homogenous and tell the same stories using the same sources delivering the same message (McManus 1995). Regardless of the news or information outlets one accesses, the coverage of events is predominantly the same with differences focusing on commentary, perspective, and analysis. Shoemaker and Vos (2009) found this practice allow outlets to serve as gatekeepers by shaping stories and messages into mass media-appropriate forms and reducing them to a manageable amount for the audience. Fragmentation of stories and messages occurs solely on ideology related to events rather than actual coverage of accounts, reports, or news.

Technology like other resources in society creates inequality among social groups (Griffiths et al. 2015). People with greater access to resources have the ability to purchase and use online services and applications. Privilege access to technological innovations and advancements depend on one’s age, family, education, ethnicity, gender, profession, race, and social class (Kottak and Kozaitis 2012). Signs of technological stratification are visible in the increasing knowledge gap for those with less access to information technology. People with exposure to technology gain further proficiency that makes them more marketable and employable in modern society (Griffiths et al. 2015). Inflation of the knowledge gap results from the lack of technological infrastructure among races, classes, geographic areas creating a digital divide between those who have internet access and those that do not.

Native Anthropologist

Native anthropologists study their own culture. For this project, you will explore your own culture by
answering the questions below. Your response to each question must be a minimum of one paragraph
consisting of 3-5 sentences, typed, and in ASA format (i.e., paragraphs indented and double-spaced). You must
include parenthetical citations if you ask or interview someone in your family or kin group to help you
understand and answer any one of the questions. Here is a helpful link with information on citing interviews in
ASA format:

1. In examining your background and heritage, what traditions or rituals do you practice regularly? To what extent are traditional cultural group beliefs still held by individuals within the community? To what extent and in what areas have your ethnic or traditional culture changed in comparison to your ancestors?
2. What major stereotypes do you have about other cultural groups based on age, gender, sex, sexuality, race, ethnicity, region, and social class?
3. Reflecting on your cultural background, how do you define family?
4. What is the hierarchy of authority in your family?
5. What do you think are the functions and obligations of the family as a large social unit to individual family members? To school? To work? To social events?
6. What do you think are the rights and responsibilities of each family member? For example, do children have an obligation to work and help the family?
7. In your culture, what stage of life is most valued?
8. What behaviors are appropriate or unacceptable for children of various ages? How might these conflict with behaviors taught or encouraged in the school, work, or by other social groups?
9. How does your cultural group compute age? What commemoration is recognized or celebrated, if any
(i.e., birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)?


1. Considering your cultural heritage, what roles within a group are available to whom and how are they acquired?
2. Are there class or status differences in the expectations of roles within your culture?
3. Do particular roles have positive or malevolent characteristics?
4. Is language competence a requirement or qualification for family or cultural group membership?
5. How do people greet each other?
6. How is deference or respect shown?
7. How are insults expressed?
8. Who may disagree with whom in the cultural group? Under what circumstances? Are mitigating forms used?
9. Which cultural traditions or rituals are written and how widespread is cultural knowledge found in written forms?
10. What roles, attitudes, or personality traits are associated with particular ways of speaking among the cultural group?
11. What is the appropriate decorum or manners among your cultural group?
12. What counts as discipline in terms of your culture, and what doesn’t? What is its importance and value?
13. Who is responsible and how is blame ascribed if a child misbehaves?
14. Do means of social control vary with recognized stages in the life cycle, membership in various social categories (i.e., gender, region, class, etc.), or according to setting or offense?
15. What is the role of language in social control? What is the significance of using the first vs. the second language?

1. What is considered sacred (religious) and what secular (non-religious)?
2. What religious roles and authority are recognized in the community?
3. What should an outsider not know, or not acknowledge knowing about your religion or culture?
4. Are there any external signs of participation in religious rituals (e.g., ashes, dress, marking)?
5. Are dietary restrictions to be observed including fasting on particular occasions?
6. Are there any prescribed religious procedures or forms of participation if there is a death in the family?
7. What taboos are associated with death and the dead?
8. Who or what is believed to cause illness or death (e.g., biological vs. supernatural or other causes)?
9. Who or what is responsible for treating or curing illness?
10. Reflecting on your culture, what foods are typical or favorites? What are taboo?
11. What rules are observed during meals regarding age and sex roles within the family, the order of serving, seating, utensils used, and appropriate verbal formulas (e.g., how, and if, one may request, refuse, or thank)?
12. What social obligations are there with regard to food giving, preparation, reciprocity, and honoring
13. What relation does food have to health? What medicinal uses are made of food, or categories of food?
14. What are the taboos or prescriptions associated with the handling, offering, or discarding of food?
15. What clothing is common or typical among your cultural group? What is worn for special occasions?
16. What significance does dress have for group identity?
17. How does dress differ for age, sex, and social class? What restrictions are imposed for modesty (e.g., can girls wear pants, wear shorts, or shower in the gym)?
18. What is the concept of beauty, or attractiveness in the culture? What characteristics are most valued?
19. What constitutes a compliment of beauty or attractiveness in your culture (e.g., in traditional Latin American culture, telling a woman she is getting fat is a compliment)?
20. Does the color of dress have symbolic significance (e.g., black or white for mourning, celebrations, etc.)?


1. In your culture, what individuals and events in history are a source of pride for the group?
2. How is knowledge of the group’s history preserved? How and in what ways is it passed on to new
generations (e.g., writings, aphorisms or opinions, proverbs or sayings)?
3. Do any ceremonies or festive activities re-enact historical events?
4. Among your cultural group, what holidays and celebrations are observed? What is their purpose? What
cultural values do they intend to inculcate?
5. What aspects of socialization/enculturation do holidays and celebrations observed further?
6. In your culture, what is the purpose of education?
7. What methods for teaching and learning are used at home (e.g., modeling and imitation, didactic stories
and proverbs, direct verbal instruction)?
8. What is the role of language in learning and teaching?
9. How many years is it considered ‘normal’ for children to go to school?
10. Are there different expectations with respect to different groups (e.g., boys vs. girls)? In different subjects?
11. Considering your culture, what kinds of work are prestigious and why?
12. Why is work valued (e.g., financial gain, group welfare, individual satisfaction, promotes group cohesiveness, fulfillment or creation of obligations, position in the community, etc.)?

1. How and to what extent may approval or disapproval be expressed in you culture?
2. What defines the concepts of successful among your cultural group?
3. To what extent is it possible or proper for an individual to express personal vs. group goals?
4. What beliefs are held regarding luck and fate?
5. What significance does adherence to traditional culture have for individual success or achievement?
6. What are the perceptions on the acquisition of dominant group culture have on success or achievement?
7. Do parents expect and desire assimilation of children to the dominant culture as a result of education and the acquisition of language?
8. Are the attitudes of the cultural community the same as or different from those of cultural leaders?
9. Among your cultural group, what beliefs or values are associated with concepts of time? How important is punctuality, speed, patience, etc.?
10. Are particular behavioral prescriptions or taboos associated with the seasons?
11. Is there a seasonal organization of work or other activities?
12. How do individuals organize themselves spatially in groups during cultural events, activities, or gatherings
(e.g., in rows, circles, around tables, on the floor, in the middle of the room, etc.)?
13. What is the spatial organization of the home in your culture (e.g., particular activities in various areas of the home, areas allotted to children, or open to children,)?
14. What geo-spatial concepts, understandings, and beliefs (e.g., cardinal directions, heaven, hell, sun, moon, stars, natural phenomena, etc.) exist among the cultural group or are known to individuals?
15. Are particular behavioral prescriptions or taboos associated with geo-spatial concepts, understandings, and beliefs? What sanctions are there against individuals violating restrictions or prescriptions?
16. Which animals are valued in your culture, and for what reasons?
17. Which animals are considered appropriate as pets and which are inappropriate? Why?
18. Are particular behavioral prescriptions or taboos associated with particular animals?
19. Are any animals of religious significance? Of historical importance?
20. What forms of art and music are most highly valued?
21. What art medium and musical instruments are traditionally used?
22. Are there any behavioral prescriptions or taboos related to art and music (e.g., both sexes sing, play a
particular instrument, paint or photograph nude images, etc.)?


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Adapted from Modules 1 through 5, pages 1 through 77 from “Beyond Race: Cultural Influences on Human Social Life” by Vera Kennedy under the license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.


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