Dimensions of Culture, Values, and Communication
Culture shapes the way a society lives their life (Schafer, 2003). There are several elements of culture. These elements include language, norms, sanctions, and values (Schafer, 2003). The fountain of every culture is based on language. "Language is an abstract system of word meanings and symbols for all aspects of culture" (Schafer, 2003, p. 56). Norms are defined as "
established standards of behavior maintained by a society" (Schafer, 2003, p.58). Norms can be formal or informal. Formal norms are often made into laws to give expected behaviors (Schafer, 2003). Informal norms are not recorded like formal norms but are understood by its society (Schafer, 2003). An example of an informal norm would be formal proper dress (Schafer, 2003). Another element of culture is sanctions. "Sanctions are penalties and rewards for conduct concerning a social norm" (Schafer, 2003, p. 59). An example of a sanction would be a salary increase for a good employee. The final element of culture is values. "Cultural values are these collective conceptions of what is considered good, desirable, and properor bad, undesirable, and improperin a culture" (Schafer, 2003, p. 60).
Being from a very rural community in North Carolina, I was raised with Southern and Mountain cultural influences. I am the youngest of four children and we were raised as Southern Baptist. My father was raised in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and his cultural beliefs of sharing and helping neighbors influenced our beliefs a great deal. Our mother instilled strong religious beliefs that influenced most of our morals and values. One element of culture that was instilled in our family was cultural norms about homosexuality. We were taught that homosexuality was morally wrong. Other norms that were taught to us included roles and gender behaviors. At the age of 16 I, along with my family, learned that my oldest brother was "gay". My brother, John,...
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