Reporting: Synthesis

Exercise 31

Read the articles below and, in a paragraph of around 50 words, explain what is meant by "culture shock".

Culture shock refers to phenomena ranging from mild irritability to deep psychological panic and crisis.

(From H. Douglas Brown, Principles of language learning and teaching, 1980, page 131, Published by Prentice-Hall in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.)

Culture...taken in its wide ethnographic sense is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as members of society.

(From: Tyler, Edward B. Primitive culture. Published in London by J. Murray in 1871. The quotation is from page 1.)

Cultures have to have something to mould. What they in fact have is an exceedingly complex arrangement of biochemical machinery, each piece containing certain instructions of a highly specific kind about its own development. Culture, too, provides a set of instructions about development. Man is thus subject to two sets of instructions, a cultural set and an organic set, both of which are with him from conception to death. The organic set is in the ascendancy before birth; after birth the cultural set become steadily more potent, until eventually, towards death, the organic set regains ascendancy.

(From: The biology of human action. By Vernon Reynolds, page 73. Published in Reading, UK, by W H Freeman in 1976.)

The future evolutionary and ecological success of the species in the face of an ever accelerating rate of environmental change, associated with growing urbanisation and industrialisation, will depend entirely on the extent to which cultural adaptation continues to be effective. The success of cultural adaptation, in turn,  will depend on the level of understanding in society of the increasingly complex interactions between natural processes on the one hand and cultural processes on the other.

(From a book by S V Boyden, page 436. The impact of civilisation on the biology of man. Australian National University, Canberra, 1970.)

Culture is man's medium; there is no one aspect of human life that is not touched and altered by culture. This means personality, how people express themselves (including shows of emotion), the way they think, how they move, how problems are solved, how their cities are planned and laid out, how transportation systems function and are organise, as well as how economic and government systems are put together and function.

(From pages 16 to 17 of a book by Hall, Edward. T. It was published in 1976 in New York by Doubleday and the title is Beyond culture)

Culture shock is what happens when a traveller suddenly finds himself in a place where 'yes' may mean 'no', where 'fixed price' is negotiable, where to be kept waiting in an outer office is no cause for insult, where laughter may signify anger.

(From Alvin Toffler's book: Future shock. Published in New York by Bantam Books in 1970. Page 3.)

A culture is the totally socially acquired life-way or life-style of a group of people. It consists of the patterned, repetitive ways of thinking, feeling and acting that are characteristic of the members of a particular society or segment of society. (Harris, 1975, p. 144).

(From a book by Melvyn Harris, published in 1975. The title of the book is Culture, people, nature: An introduction to general anthropology. It was published in New York by Harper and Row.)

A culture bump occurs when an individual from one culture finds himself or herself in a different, strange, or uncomfortable situation when interacting with persons of a different culture. This phenomenon results from a difference in the way people from one culture behave in a particular situation from people in another culture.

(From pages 170 to 171 of an article by Carol M Archer called "Culture bump and beyond". This article is on pages 170 to 178 of a collection of articles in a book called Culture bound. The book is edited by Joyce M Valdes and was published in 1986 in Cambridge by Cambridge University Press.)

According to Peter Adler:

Culture shock, then, is thought  to be a form of anxiety that results from the loss of commonly perceived and understood signs and symbols of social intercourse. The individual undergoing culture shock reflects his anxiety and nervousness with cultural differences through any number of defence mechanisms: repression, regression, isolation and rejection. These defensive attitudes speak, in behavioural terms, of a basic underlying insecurity which may encompass loneliness, anger, frustration and self-questioning of competence. With the familiar props, cues, and clues of cultural understanding removed, the individual becomes disoriented, afraid of, and alienated from the things that he knows and understands.

(From an article called "Culture shock and the cross-cultural learning experience". It was published in 1972 on page 8. The article was on pages 3 to 48 of the journal: Readings in Intercultural education, volume 2.)

According to George Foster in 1962, page 87:

Culture shock is a mental illness, and as is true of much mental illness, the victim does not usually know he is afflicted. He finds that he is irritable, depressed and probably annoyed by the lack of attention shown him.

(From the book: Traditional cultures, published in New York by Harper and Row.)

It is homesickness and more. First encounters with another culture can be shock. You do not have to visit another country to experience culture shock. As any who has kept a diary through important changes in life, such as a new job or going to college, we often go through changes of mood and attitude before coming to terms with the new situation.

(From a booklet produced by the British Council called Feeling at home. It was published in London in 1997 and the quotation is from page 10.)

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