The Importance of Understanding Culture
Culture is the shared characteristics of human groups and includes behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols. These are learned and collectively programmed and are the basis for group behavior. These shared characteristics are often based on shared ethnicity, gender, and customs. Some cultures also place high value on ceremonial objects and clothing. The Christmas tree, for example, is considered cultural and ceremonial and is part of Western religious and commercial holiday culture.
Understanding a culture is an important step in building relationships with people of different backgrounds. However, it is essential to be sensitive and respectful of other cultures’ differences. You do not need to be a scholar to learn about and appreciate different cultures. Even if you have limited experience in cultural relations, it is essential to become more knowledgeable and open-minded in order to create successful community relationships.
Different cultures have different ways of expressing their culture, as well as a variety of levels of complexity. At the surface level, there are symbols and heroes that represent the culture, while at the deep level, it is the values and beliefs that convey a specific meaning. In addition to symbols and values, cultures also have different ways of seeing color. For example, Westerners value success, whereas East Asians value avoiding failure. Understanding how these cultural differences affect behavior is essential for psychologists.
Using a culture’s symbols and traditions in a non-traditional way can be seen as cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation occurs when a dominant group takes something that belongs to a marginalized group, often one that has been historically abused or oppressed. The non-dominant group often views such practices as exploitative.
However, cultural diversity is important in every setting, including education. Students from all countries have a right to equal access to a high quality education. Moreover, students from different cultures are more likely to perform well in school if they feel part of the school community. For that reason, it is important to ensure that school-based diversity is valued and regarded as a valuable asset.
In addition to the diversity of cultures, there are also differences in the way we conduct research. For example, ethnography focuses on living among other cultures, where researchers study their interactions with local people and learn their language. In this way, they can gain a deeper understanding of their culture. For instance, ethnography can be used to gain a deeper understanding of a culture’s beliefs and values.
Cultural competency is critical in reducing health disparities. It can improve access to quality health care and increase responsiveness to diverse patient populations. This framework allows healthcare systems, agencies, and groups of professionals to understand patient needs. It is a critical part of service delivery and should be integrated into all areas. For example, in HIV/AIDS prevention, cultural competence is essential.
To ensure cultural awareness, it is important to identify cultural differences and decide if your current practices are culturally appropriate. These cultural differences are often subtle and may require some adjustment on your part. Cultural awareness is an important skill in the workplace, and can help you perform more efficiently in a foreign environment.