Traditional and Non-traditional Culture

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Traditional and Nontraditional Cultures of India and the United StatesTraditional and nontraditional cultures incorporate different sets of beliefs, values and behaviors into the individuals involved within each culture. Traditional cultures are cultures that are based largely on beliefs, rules, symbols and principles established predominately in the past and confined to regional boundaries (Shiraev & Levy, 2007). Nontraditional cultures are cultures that are based largely on modern beliefs, rules, symbols and principles and are relatively open to other cultures, technology and social innovations (Shiraev & Levy, 2007). This paper will examine the comparison and contrast between the values, beliefs and behaviors of India as a traditional culture and the United States as a nontraditional culture.

Culture is a set of attitudes, behaviors and symbols that are shared by a large group of people and is usually passed down from generation to generation (Shiraev & Levy, 2007). Although some cultures may seem very similar, no two cultures are exactly alike (Shiraev & Levy, 2007). The culture of the people of India is regarded as traditional. Some of the important components of the Indian culture include treating guests as if they are part of the family. A host is often willing to share everything, even when he or she has nothing (Teaching kids Indian Values, 2000). Respect of all persons is viewed as part of one's duty in a culture that considers all people alike (Respect your Elders, 2000). The majority of women in India were traditional dress and although a large amount of men wear conventional Western clothes, the wearing of traditional costumes is common among the men in villages (Daniel & Shenoy, 1997).

The culture of America is considered nontraditional. Etiquette books give advice on how long guests should stay with a host and one popular saying instructs guests to avoid wearing out his or her welcome. Often, a guest is expected to contribute to the cost of his or her stay, if the stay is extended. Respect for one another is often placed to the side in a culture that seems to be centered on wanting everything now, no matter what the cost. Men and women dress in many different types of clothing and it common for women to wear suits and pants.

ValuesValues are principles and standards held or accepted by individual or a society (Guralnik, 1970, p. 1667). Values vary between traditional and non-traditional cultures. The values held in the United States and India are similar and different in various ways. One area in which the values of the India and the United States are the similar is in marriage. Both cultures view marriage as the joining of two families. Both cultures view marriage as a transition from childhood to adulthood. Both cultures place importance on the customs associated with the wedding ceremony. The difference between the cultures in the view of marriage is immense. The tradition of arranged marriages is central to the Indian culture (Heitzman & Worden, 1995). Adolescent girls bring negotiated dowries to the selected husband. Such marriages join not simply two individuals but also two families, clans or even small communities (Heitzman & Worden, 1995). Divorce is not seen as a likely option and divorced women are highly stigmatized in India (Amato, 1994). In the United States, the thought of an arranged marriage is bizarre. Americans are conditioned to search for their one true love in hopes of living happily ever after. Parents often have no say in the selection of a mate for their child. In America, the legal age for marriage is 18 and women are not expected to bring a dowry to the marriage. Divorce is common in the American culture and divorced women are not treated badly by society.

The value placed on education is another area of similarity and difference in the cultures of India and the United States. In both cultures, education was a luxury for only men. Females were only allowed to attend...
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