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cultural norms

Cultural Norms and Parenting

For years I’ve enjoyed the clips on YouTube of “My First Errand” where it’s been running for decades in Japan. The very existence of the show demonstrates how we think about parenting and childhood are impacted by our cultural influences.  Young kids go on their first unsupervised errand, but with an army of cameramen and shopkeepers prepared for the situation.  Japanese parenting is designed to build resilience, trust in the community, and independence. Given that Japan’s culture this is perfectly reasonable, but now that the show is on Netflix as “Old Enough!”, American parents that parents quite differently, has more than a few parents watching this nervously and scared that it might even be dangerous. 

The NPR article include an editor’s note about how this might not be acceptable to bring here because of local laws.  CBS highlights the parenting debate, but in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald sees this as a whole glimpse into childhood innocence and growth.  Some just see an adorable show. We are caught off guard in the United States, and Netflix viewers are rooting for these toddlers that are given far more autonomy and responsibility than toddlers are given here. Other note that while this might work in a Japanese cultural context with pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, they don’t see how it could work in an American context.       

Personally, I love that they are teaching children that they can develop some independence, resilience, and competence.  We often assume we are the norm, and this is one case that shows American parenting culture in 21st century suburbs, does not represent the what has been normal throughout history,  nor in other places.  Some like Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt have argued that “the Coddling of the American Mind” has had some negative consequences as children who never were allowed to grow and experiment then reach college campuses (I highly recommend the book since this 1-sentence synopsis doesn’t do it justice).    

The Daily Show even bit a bit saying that the show “divides parents.” (5:48-9:00 in the clip below)

TAGS: Japan, culture, cultural norms.

Divorce Turkish Style

Divorce—though originally sanctioned more than 1,400 years ago by Islamic law—is still widely viewed in Muslim societies as a subversive act that breaks up the family. Women who seek divorce can often find themselves ostracized and treated as immoral. Despite such taboos and restrictions, however, divorce rates are rising across Islamic countries, even in ultra-conservative places like Afghanistan.” SOURCE: NY Book Review

This is a difficult subject to discuss in the classroom, but it hits as many of the important cultural norms that surround social interactions that are gender-based. Cultural norms explore more than just the legal rights that people many have, but they also look at the cultural expectations, and the communal/family responsibilities that they are seen to have in their society. Divorce is legal in Turkey, but because it was heavily stigmatized, it was quite rare. Today, modern cultural influences from outside the region, (i.e.-the cultural affects of globalization) are promoting and changing traditional cultural norms of the region. This is a very insightful look into the lived-experience of divorce in the Middle East that gives a sense of the cultural impacts of gendered norms.

GeoEd Tags: culture, cultural norms, gender, Turkey, MiddleEast.

How where you are born influences who you become

Oftentimes, we fail to recognize our own cultural norms because they are so…normal.  Does a fish realize that they’ve always been in water until they flop ashore?  Cultural norms are the air we breathe; in the mountains we might notice the freshness of the air or in an industrial park we might notice the grittiness that comes from particulates that are pollution the air quality, but the point is that we might not notice the air we breathe (or our cultural norms) until we go somewhere else.  Much what we see as our own personality has been shaped within our own cultural environment.  It is not surprising then to see that where you are born can influence who you are and how you see your place in your community (Source: The Conversation).  East Asian children are usually raised to be an integral part of the family and community, while American children who are often taught to become their own individuals and pursue their own path.  Another author paused to consider if Western parenting strategies aren’t the “normal” ones, but if in fact they might seen as weird from a different perspective (Source: BBC). Even our psychological profile is also influenced by the type of society in which we were born.  For example, children in hunter-gatherer societies are more risk averse than urban kids (Source: The Week).  This is not to say that geography is destiny, but where were are from can have a profound impact on who we become.        

GeoEd Tags: culture, cultural norms.

Gender and Mobility in the Middle East

"The adult daughter of Dubai’s ruler tried to escape a life of stultifying restrictions. She was captured at sea, forcibly taken back, and has not been heard from since. For all its megamalls, haute cuisine and dizzying skyscrapers, Dubai can flip at speed from international playground to repressive police state."

Source: www.nytimes.com

Both of these particular case studies are incredibly interesting but I want to talk about how this is connected to a larger cultural and political issue: that of female mobility in Persian Gulf countries.  The ability to move freely without familial supervision or approval is something that adults in most countries take for granted, but that is not the case in some countries in the Middle East.  How we experience place is dependent of our mobility—this is why there is no one singular geography or story of any given place, but there are many geographies that help to explain a place.  The story of the ‘vanished princess’ of Dubai and the woman seeking a divorce but trapped by her family cast a different light on the glamorous and glitzy reputation of the United Arab Emirates.    

 

GeoEd Tags: culture, cultural norms, gender, mobility, UAE, MiddleEast, political.

Scoop.it Tagsculture, cultural norms, gender, mobility, UAE, MiddleEast, political.

The Japanese art of (not) sleeping

"The Japanese don’t sleep. This is what everyone – the Japanese above all – say. I first encountered these intriguing attitudes to sleep during my first stay in Japan in the late 1980s. Daily life was hectic; people filled their schedules with work and leisure appointments, and had hardly any time to sleep. Many voiced the complaint: ‘We Japanese are crazy to work so much!’ But in these complaints one detected a sense of pride at being more diligent and therefore morally superior to the rest of humanity. Yet, at the same time, I observed countless people dozing on underground trains during my daily commute. Some even slept while standing up, and no one appeared to be at all surprised by this.

The positive image of the worker bee, who cuts back on sleep at night and frowns on sleeping late in the morning, seemed to be accompanied by an extensive tolerance of so-called ‘inemuri’ – napping on public transportation and during work meetings, classes and lectures. Women, men and children apparently had little inhibition about falling asleep when and wherever they felt like doing so."

Source: www.bbc.com

If you subscribe to Edward Hall’s Cultural Iceberg model (video), we can readily see, touch, or experience many parts of a society’s culture; what they wear, the ways the communicate, the food they eat, etc.  Beneath the surface, though, are the less obvious cultural traits that aren’t so easily observed.  These aspects of culture, such as the beliefs, values, and thought patterns of a society, are critical to understanding differing cultural traits.

 

Questions to Ponder: In this article about sleep in Japan, what elements of external culture (above the surface) are present?  What elements of internal culture (beneath the surface) are present?  How do the cultural traits beneath the surface shape the cultural traits that are above the surface?    

Scoop.it Tags: culturecultural norms, labor, JapanEast Asia.

WordPress TAGS: cultural norms, culture, labor, Japan, East Asia.

Every Culture Appropriates

The question is less whether a dress or an idea is borrowed, than the uses to which it’s then put.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

A while back a prom dress causes an uproar, and a backlash to the uproar (as you can imagine political leanings heavily influence the cultural perspectives as demonstrated by the difference between the New York Times , Fox News and the social media reactions on the same topic).  This article pulls pack from the immediate issues that fan the fans, but asks some of the broader questions about cultural diffusion and cultural appropriation.  

 

Tags: popular culturediffusion, culturecultural norms.

 

At Seattle Mariners games, grasshoppers are a favorite snack

“Chapulines [grasshoppers] have become a snack favorite among baseball fans in Seattle. Follow their path from Oaxaca, Mexico, to Safeco Field. To many, the insect might be a novelty – a quirky highlight for an Instagram story from a day at the ballpark. To those in Mexico consuming them for centuries, they are a building block of nutrition.”

Source: www.espn.com

Eating insects is incredibly nutritious; raising them is cost effective and environmentally sustainable. And yet, the cultural taboos against entomophagy in the West are barriers to the cultural diffusion of the practice.  At some baseball games and high-end restaurants, grasshoppers are sold as a novelty item.  What I especially enjoy about this ESPN article is that it covers the cultural production of the chapulines in Mexico and follows the story to the consumption of the grasshoppers in the United States.  

 

Tags: sport, popular culturediffusion, culturecultural norms, foodMexico, economic, agriculture.

Too Many Men

“Nothing like this has happened in human history. A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world’s two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.”

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

There are far-reaching consequences to the gender imbalances in India and China.  The fantastically rich article covers four major impacts: 

Village life and mental health. Among men, loneliness and depression are widespread. Villages are emptying out. Men are learning to cook and perform other chores long relegated to women.

Housing prices and savings rates. Bachelors are furiously building houses in China to attract wives, and prices are soaring. But otherwise they are not spending, and that in turn fuels China’s huge trade surplus. In India, there is the opposite effect: Because brides are scarce, families are under less pressure to save for expensive dowries. 

Human trafficking. Trafficking of brides is on the rise. Foreign women are being recruited and lured to China, effectively creating similar imbalances in China’s neighbors.

Public safety. With the increase in men has come a surge in sexual crime in India and concerns about a rise in other crimes in both countries. Harassment of schoolgirls in India has in some towns sparked an effort to push back — but at a cost of restricting them to more protected lives.

 

Tags: gender, ChinaIndia, culture, population.

Looking for Love in Small Religion

“Think modern dating is tough? Try hunting for a husband or wife in the Druze community—adherents are forbidden from marrying outside of the faith. This desire to marry someone within the faith is not just a preference—the religion prohibits exogamy. If a Druze marries a non-Druze, it will not be a Druze wedding, nor can the couple’s children be Druze—the religion can only be passed on through birth to two Druze parents. There are no conversions into the Druze faith.”

Source: www.theatlantic.com

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