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Table 1: Essentialism vs.

Essentialist view of culture

Non-essentialist view of culture

How people talk about it


i. A culture has a physical entity, as `I visited three cultures while on

though it is a place, which people can holiday. They were Spain, Morocco
visit. It is homogeneous in that perand Tunisia.
ceived traits are spread evenly, giving
the sense of a simple society.

ii Culture is a social force which is

evident where it is significant. Society is complex, with characteristics
which are difficult to pin down.

`There was something culturally different about each of

the countries I visited.


iii It is associated with a country and

a language, which has an onion-skin
relationship with larger continental,
religious, ethnic or racial cultures,
and smaller subcultures.

`Japanese culture, European 1

culture, Hindu culture, Black
culture, Japanese secondary AS,
school culture.

iv It is associated with a value, and

can relate equally to any type or size
of group for any period of time, and
can be characterized by a discourse
as much as by a language.

`There is a more homogeneous culture of food in Japan

than in Britain. Schools in Britain have a more evident
culture of sport than schools in Japan.

v The world is divided into mutually

exclusive national cultures. People in
one culture are essentially different
from people in another.

`When crossing from Japanese

culture to Chinese culture . . `People
from Egypt cannot .. . when they
arrive in French culture.

vi Cultures can flow, change, intermingle, cut across and through one
another, regardless of national frontiers, and have blurred boundaries.

`There is more of a culture of .. . in China than in India,

`Schools throughout the world have a lot of cultural

vii People belong exclusively to one

national culture and one language.

`No matter how long she lives in Italy, she belongs to Austrian culture,
Which culture do you originally
come from? One can never totally
learn a second culture.

viii People can belong to and move

through a complex multiplicity of
cultures both within and across

`I feel most British when I travel abroad to places where

that is meaningful. A sense of Iranian culture from my
family and upbringing comes into play when I listen to
Iranian music, speak the language and think of global
politics. At the moment the strongest cultural force in
my life comes from the international womens group to
which I belong, through conferences, journals, and email
contact. These are the people to whom I feel culturally
closest. The people I find most culturally strange are my
childrens friends and the village where I was a child. My
Iranian-ness enriches my perceptions of and participation
in British society, and vice versa.

ix. A culture behaves like a single-minded person with a specific,

exclusive personality.
Peoples behavior is defined and
constrained by the culture in which
they live.

German culture believes that . In

x People are influenced by or make
Middle Eastern culture there is no
use of a multiplicity of cultural
concept of . In Chinese culture,
people. She belongs to Norwegian
culture, therefore she.

xi. To communicate with someone

who is foreign or different we must
first understand the details or stereotype of their culture.

When you want to greet a Swedish

business man, you need to know that
in Swedish culture


How people talk about it




xii. To communicate with anyone

who belongs to a group with whom
we are unfamiliar, we have to understand the complexity of who she is.

What you have to understand about her is that she does

not conform to the stereotypes of Middle Eastern women
that we see in the media, which she considers false and
ignorant. In reality she is different to what we expected.