Worldview Shift

Lesson 1: Topic 16 of 25

But are there other factors that would cause a shift of worldview for an individual away from the middle of their cultural worldview? Absolutely, plenty. Education is one possibility. I know a Roma woman who had earned a doctorate in order to become an advocate for poor Roma in Europe. She might even be considered a “third culture” kind of person, with overlapping worldviews, as she’s been educated within a different worldview structure and functions well within that academic frame. A person who deliberately takes a stance as an insider-outsider often learns to fully operate in two cultural worlds. This may include switching back and forth between languages and cultural behaviors. In anthropology, this practice of being able to shift between cultures is called code switching.

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Many factors develop an individual’s personal lens, from the time a person is a small infant. Obviously, the surrounding culture is prominent. However, there are many more personal sources of input. An individual may grow up in a close family unit, or without much support. Likewise, a difficult educational system (or none) contrasts with well ordered, safe schools. Level of economic stability, physical safety, emotional care, and hope of future opportunities all figure in. Outside events in a society may profoundly shift perspective, or create subtle nuances. Examples of these would be 9/11 or the Covid-19 crisis. Together these and more factors form a complex lens through which this person will analyze everything presented to her throughout life. 

When moving into a different scenario, even a drastically different culture, the internal lens remains. Adjustments to new systems, rules, and relationships take time. Some measure of adaptation usually happens externally. Internalized worldview is so natural, though, we may not even realize it is there. It takes a high level of self-awareness to determine that one’s worldview may need to shift to adapt well.