South American Culture

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Cultural Awareness

Thesis: culture is dynamic and can be seen from the interaction of many things such as physical features, history, activities and developments. It is also represented in the way people live and the elements that are found in the day to day interaction such as language, music, dressing among others. I. The definition of culture and its key characteristics proves the dynamic nature of culture. A. The definition of culture makes this clear. B. The key characteristics of culture that include language, values, norms, beliefs, and orientation towards time give us a better understanding of culture. II. Culture and regions of the world: A case for South America. A. A look at the location of South America. B. The physical landscape and prominent features of the region that include the Andes, the amazon forests and the Atacama Desert. III. The expression of culture through history and developments give us a better understanding of the region. A. The military history of South America in itself brings out the nature of the region. B. The key infrastructural developments such as the Panama Canal give us the ancient history and interests of the region. C. Typical activities of the region such as Agriculture tell us about the abundance of rainfall in the areas, tourism also tell us the attractive nature of the region. IV. The people residing in the region and the activities they engage in tell us of the mixed culture of the place. A. The mixture of ethnic groups tells us of the diversity of the regions culture. B. The different languages spoken by the people prove that culture is both specific to a group and a region. C. The different interests communicate the value of ideologies that are held by different groups.

Culture can be defined as a system of beliefs, values, norms, customs, behaviours and artefacts that members of a given society use to interact with the world and one another. It is a combination of thoughts, feelings attitudes, beliefs values and behaviour patterns that are shared by racial, ethnic, religious or social groups of people.

The first characteristic of culture is language which is a set of symbols that are used to assign and communicate meaning. Language is both the spoken word and body movements. Language can be formal or informal; depending on the environment and the people taking part in the communication process. Different dialects may symbolize different groups of people of different cultures. In non-verbal communication, different cultures have different body language. For example there are cultures in which eye contact is seen as disrespectful while in others it signifies honesty (Books Llc 2-46).

The second element of culture is norms which refer to the rules that govern behaviours in a given society. Norms include taboos and rituals which are specific to a given group of people or region. Norms are such that what is acceptable to a given group may be absurd for another. Ignoring these norms makes one unacceptable or an outcast within a given culture.

The third characteristic of culture is values which are things that members of a particular culture hold in high esteem or aspire to have. Values are not the same they change depending on the situation or the needs of people. Different cultures value different things, for example most Americans generally agree on the following as valuable: democracy, liberty and freedom. A typical African society values children, peace and hard work.

The fourth characteristic of culture is beliefs and ideologies. Beliefs refer to what members of a given culture hold to be true. Ideologies on the other hand refer to a set of beliefs and assumptions that are connected by a common theme. Social...
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