Social and cultural aspects of a society form its very nature. As "culture" is the essence of a society, this chapter will concentrate on a discussion of it only.
Of all the so called "environmental uncontrollables", culture, or at least the study of it, is one of the most difficult to comprehend, take account of and harness to advantage. This is particularly so when the product or service is "culture bound". Such products and services include those which are generally indigenous by nature and/or of relatively small value and very common. This is particularly true of foodstuffs. Sadza in Zimbabwe, a staple food made from maize meal, would not go down well in Beverley Hills, California. Neither would Middle Eastern sheeps eyes menus. Products of a more technical nature, like computers, on the other hand, have a universal appeal.
However there is plenty of evidence to suggest that, with shrinking communications and with more people than ever travelling, even the most culture bound product or service can, and is, finding a world market niche. So even the infamous Veldschoen footwear of the South African pioneers has found its way into most corners of the world. The social environment, social context, sociocultural context, or milieu, refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops. It includes the culture that the individual was educated or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom they interact.
The interaction may be in person or through communication media, even anonymous or one-way,and may not imply equality of social status. Therefore the social environment is a broader concept than that of social class or social circle. The social environment also includes some special features that will affect project selection and execution, as well as their relative success. They include, for example, the following factors: • number of official languages...