Glossary

Ancestry – an understanding of common origin, such as descendants of African slaves or a formal organized group like the General Society of Mayflower Descendants or the Cherokee Nation

Behavior – The actions of culture.

Beliefs – Religious or moral constructs of a culture.

Building (Gaining) Face – the cultural process of adding dignity and respect to a person’s reputation within a particular group.

Caste – an ancient system of religious and social stratification originating in India that has endured for millenia.

Code Switching – an adaptive strategy engaging the ability to alternate between different languages in different cultural contexts.

Collectivist – a person with a mindset of belonging to a group or family before considering individual autonomy.

Communism – a political system that is the outgrowth of Socialism and that advocates for the collective ownership and control of the means of production and the elimination of private property.

Coining – an abrasive folk medicine remedy used to treat sore throats, respiratory issues, and other illnesses.

Conscious Culture – parts of cultural knowledge that are specifically and explicitly learned. 

Cultural Dimension Theory – developed by Dr. Geert Hofstede, a groundbreaking system of attribute comparison between national cultures.

Cultural practices and rules – a usually complex set of guidelines that determine behaviors and structures within a society, for example marriage practices. These may be legal (explicit and formal) or simply understood by members of the culture (implicit and informal).

Culture – Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.  (Edward B. Tyler)

Displacement –  the process by which immigrants in a culture experience some measure of a loss of their cultural identity and connection to their homeland. 

East – For the context of this course, geography of the world including Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and other areas not considered “the West.”

Ethnic – of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background. (Merriam-Webster.com)

Ethnocentrism – an interpretation of the world as centered on one’s own ethnicity, including worldview and learned expectations.

Face – “…the quality embedded in most Asian cultures that indicates a person’s reputation, influence, dignity, and honor.” (Cultural Atlas) 

Foreign-born – A term from the U.S. Census Bureau indicating residents of the United States born in other countries to non-citizens. 

Geographic origin – physical location of birth and/or upbringing.

Harmony – the cultural practice of keeping a balance of unity in society by affirming others and avoiding direct conflict.

Hart-Celler Act – 1965 law which greatly broadened U.S. immigration and eliminated an uneven quota system. 

High context culture – a culture with subtle communication and with nonverbal cues that hold meaning to insiders.

Iceberg – Used as a metaphor to picture culture in Anthropology.

Implicit (or Unconscious) Culture – Actions and values that are mostly learned by example and inference.

Individualist – a person who thinks of herself as a mostly autonomous unit. 

Indulgence – a comparative measure of how cultures place a greater emphasis on the individual’s needs and desires and on the expression of emotions and impulses. 

Language – system of verbal and nonverbal communication common to a culture. 

Long-term orientation – a comparative measure of how cultures place a greater emphasis on the future and on planning and investing for the long-term. 

Low Context Culture – a culture with overt communication, both verbal and written, meant to ensure thorough transmission of meaning.

Material Culture – Physical objects that identify a culture, both artful and utilitarian.

Monochronic (fixed) time – a feature in which culture members “prefer to do only one thing at a time, to concentrate on it and do it within a fixed schedule.” (Cleveland Clinic)

Native-born – A term from the U.S. Census Bureau indicating citizens born within the borders of the United States, or born abroad to U.S. citizens.

Polychronic (flex) time – a cultural practice in which individuals often prefer to do several things at once, usually prioritizing relationships over tasks.

Power Distance – a comparative measure of how leadership and the main population of a national country relate.

Race – shared physical characteristics of a group, usually including skin pigmentation (melanin). 

Religion – a system of spiritual belief; an ethnic group may share a single religion or have several religions within it. 

Restraint – a comparative measure of how cultures place a greater emphasis on the needs and desires of the group and on the control of emotions and impulses.

Second Language Stress – stress experienced by second language learners, including being linguistically misunderstood and struggling to effectively communicate.

Short-term orientation – a comparative measure of how cultures place a greater emphasis on the present and on enjoying and making the most of the present moment.

Socialism – a social and political construct that values benefitting the collective good over individual aspirations and acheivements.

Speed of Action – The pace of life in a culture, which is closely related to time and task orientation.

Stratification – the ways in which society is divided into different groups based on factors such as wealth, power, and status.

Transmission – Pertaining to culture, the passing on of cultural information from one generation to the next.

Uncertainty Avoidance – a comparative measure of how risk accepting or risk averse a culture as a whole is predisposed to be.

Values – virtues that a culture holds as necessary.

West – for the context of this course, geography of the world including the United States and Canada, Latin America, much of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Worldview – the deepest, most realistic core concepts of individuals and cultures.

Worldview Shift – significant change through immigration, emigration, trauma, or other factors that alters an individual’s core.

Worldview Window – an imaginary thought construct that shapes the way individuals and societies experience the world.