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Cultural Values

By arunsathya Oct 20, 2010 3118 Words
Introduction
A personal and/or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based. Those values which are not physiologically determined and normally considered objective, such as a desire to avoid physical pain, seek pleasure, etc., are considered subjective, vary across individuals and cultures and are in many ways aligned with belief and belief systems. Types of values include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. It is debated whether some values which aren't clearly physiologically determined are intrinsic such as altruism and whether some such as acquisitiveness should be valued as vices or virtues. Values have typically been studied in sociology; anthropology; social psychology; moral philosophy and business ethics.

Cultural values

Groups, societies, or cultures have values that are largely shared by their members. The values identify those objects, conditions or characteristics that members of the society consider important; that is, valuable. In the United States, for example, values might include material comfort, wealth, competition, individualism or religiosity . The values of a society can often be identified by noting which people receive honor or respect. In the US, for example, professional athletes at the top levels in some sports are honored (in the form of monetary payment) more than college professors. Surveys show that voters in the United States would be reluctant to elect an atheist as a president, suggesting that belief in God is a value. There is a difference between values clarification and cognitive moral education. Values clarification is, "helping people clarify what their lives are for and what is worth working for. Students are encouraged to define their own values and understand others' values. Cognitive moral education is based on the belief that students should learn to value things like democracy and justice as their moral reasoning develops. Values are related to the norms of a culture, but they are more global and abstract than norms. Norms are rules for behavior in specific situations, while values identify what should be judged as good or evil. Flying the national flag on a holiday is a norm, but it reflects the value of patriotism. Wearing dark clothing and appearing solemn are normative behaviors at a funeral. In certain cultures they reflect the values of respect and support of friends and family. Different cultures reflect different values. "Over the last three decades, traditional-age college students have shown an increased interest in personal well-being and a decreased interest in the welfare of others."[1] Values seemed to have changed, affecting the beliefs, and attitudes of college students. Members take part in a culture even if each member's personal values do not entirely agree with some of the normative values sanctioned in the culture. This reflects an individual's ability to synthesize and extract aspects valuable to them from the multiple subcultures they belong to. If a group member expresses a value that is in serious conflict with the group's norms, the group's authority may carry out various ways of encouraging conformity or stigmatizing the non-conforming behavior of its members. For example, imprisonment can result from conflict with social norms that have been established as law.

Hofstede's Framework for Assessing Culture

Hofstede has found five dimensions of culture in his study of national work related values. Replication studies have yielded similar results, pointing to stability of the dimensions across time. The dimensions are:

. Small vs. large power distance
How much the less powerful members of institutions and organizations expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. In cultures with small power distance (e.g. Australia, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand), people expect and accept power relations that are more consultative or democratic. People relate to one another more as equals regardless of formal positions. Subordinates are more comfortable with and demand the right to contribute to and critique the decisions of those in power. In cultures with large power distance (e.g. Malaysia), the less powerful accept power relations that are autocratic or paternalistic. Subordinates acknowledge the power of others based on their formal, hierarchical positions. Thus, Small vs. Large Power Distance does not measure or attempt to measure a culture's objective, "real" power distribution, but rather the way people perceive power differences. Individualism vs. collectivism

How much members of the culture define themselves apart from their group memberships. In individualist cultures, people are expected to develop and display their individual personalities and to choose their own affiliations. In collectivist cultures, people are defined and act mostly as a member of a long-term group, such as the family, a religious group, an age cohort, a town, or a profession, among others. This dimension was found to move towards the individualist end of the spectrum with increasing national wealth. Masculinity vs. femininity

The value placed on traditionally male or female values (as understood in most Western cultures). In so-called 'masculine' cultures, people (whether male or female) value competitiveness, assertiveness, ambition, and the accumulation of wealth and material possessions. In so-called 'feminine' cultures, people (again whether male or female) value relationships and quality of life. This dimension is often renamed by users of Hofstede's work, e.g. to Quantity of Life vs. Quality of Life. Another reading of the same dimension holds that in 'M' cultures, the differences between gender roles are more dramatic and less fluid than in 'F' cultures; but this strongly depends on other dimensions as well. Weak vs. strong uncertainty avoidance

How much members of a society are anxious about the unknown, and as a consequence, attempt to cope with anxiety by minimizing uncertainty. In cultures with strong uncertainty avoidance, people prefer explicit rules (e.g. about religion and food) and formally structured activities, and employees tend to remain longer with their present employer. In cultures with weak uncertainty avoidance, people prefer implicit or flexible rules or guidelines and informal activities. Employees tend to change employers more frequently. Michael Harris Bond and his collaborators subsequently found a fifth dimension which was initially called Confucian dynamism. Hofstede later incorporated this into his framework as: Long vs. short term orientation

A society's "time horizon," or the importance attached to the future versus the past and present. In long term oriented societies, people value actions and attitudes that affect the future: persistence/perseverance, thrift, and shame. In short term oriented societies, people value actions and attitudes that are affected by the past or the present: normative statements, immediate stability, protecting one's own face, respect for tradition, and reciprocation of greetings, favors, and gifts. These cultural differences describe averages or tendencies and not characteristics of individuals. A Japanese person for example can have a very low 'uncertainty avoidance' compared to a Filipino person even though their 'national' cultures point strongly in a different direction. Consequently, a country's scores should not be interpreted as deterministic.

Cultural Values in India

The term culture refers to a state of intellectual development or manners. The social and political forces that influence the growth of a human being is defined as culture.Indian culture is rich and diverse and as a result unique in its very own way. Our manners, way of communicating with one another, etc are one of the important components of our culture. Even though we have accepted modern means of living, improved our lifestyle, our values and beliefs still remain unchanged. A person can change his way of clothing, way of eating and living but the rich values in a person always remains unchanged because they are deeply rooted within our hearts, mind, body and soul which we receive from our culture.| Indian culture treats guests as god and serves them and takes care of them as if they are a part and parcel of the family itself. Even though we don’t have anything to eat, the guests are never left hungry and are always looked after by the members of the family. Elders and the respect for elders is a major component in Indian culture. Elders are the driving force for any family and hence the love and respect for elders comes from within and is not artificial. An individual takes blessings from his elders by touching their feet. Elders drill and pass on the Indian culture within us as we grow. “Respect one another” is another lesson that is taught from the books of Indian culture. All people are alike and respecting one another is ones duty. In foreign countries the relation between the boss and the employee is like a master and slave and is purely monetary whereas in Indian culture the relation between the boss and the employee is more like homely relations unlike foreign countries. Helpful nature is another striking feature in our Indian culture. Right from our early days of childhood we are taught to help one another in need of help and distress. If not monetary then at least in kind or non-monetary ways. Indian culture tells us to multiply and distribute joy and happiness and share sadness and pain. It tells us that by all this we can develop co-operation and better living amongst ourselves and subsequently make this world a better place to live in. Even though India is a country of various religions and caste our culture tells us just one thing 'phir bhi dil hai Hindustani '. 

The History of India's culture:
Ancient civilization in India reveals marvelous facts about our heritage. It is a eye opener as to how kingdoms ruled and how people went about life in a logical way. Though medieval, it is actually amazing to find how people transacted and went about building dams and tended to the chief occupation which was agriculture. Dance and rituals were always a part of Indian culture and this was the chief mode of entertainment.

Indian culture is also about respecting elders, honoring heroes and cherishing love. It is a land of aspirations, achievements and self reliance. Indian culture has a very high level of tolerance and hence the advent of so many external cultures was not restricted. Adaptation to any culture or embracing a religion was always the democratic culture. Indian history is about war heroes during Indus valley civilization and the initial time when currency was coined. Indian history talks a lot about self reliance especially in terms of food and agricultural produce. This was the great effort put in by the farmers and support received through irrigation. The modern agriculture also shows a lot of indigenous methods of preserving the produce. The Chola dynasty, the great King Emperor Ashoka and the secular era of Emperor Akbar will always be green in our memory. Several books are written on the rich Indian culture wherein the saints preserved the Vedas and scriptures.

There are shlokas and mantras i.e. chants that can evoke positive energy and revoke enthusiasm in life. The rich culture of yoga as a part of life and the goodness of ayurveda has now got an universal lifestyle approach. Our roots are strong and despite the westernization and access to technology, the distinct Indianness is still maintained whilst celebrating Diwali or observing the Shravan fast. This is also believed to be a land of Lord Rama which is Ayodhya or the birthplace of Sri Krishna is considered as Mathura. The birth of Sikh religion and the reverence felt by all Indians is still intact. Indians are extremely secular and especially in the metros there is seamless blending of Indians during Xmas and Id.

Attires in Indian culture :
Ethnic charm is exuded in simple outfits in India. The tropical climate is well adapted to the range of muslins and cottons. The mixed variety in cotton goes from viscose, polycot and also cotton silk which has a sheen of its own. Attires are very much about the region and climate. The Himalayan costume is suited for the environment where the dress is a blanket wrap in red and black secured with a ethnic pin. The ornaments or jewelry is a festive adornment with a big red bindi to complete the outfit.

The sari happens to be the most versatile drape with its amazing styles of draping and design. The sari is the traditional dress of India which also modifies as per material, drape and style with each region. This has also gone up to international drape style followed by ranking designers on the ramp shows. The chungari sari of the south has the tie and dye pattern that finds its counterpart in the bandhi print of Gujarat. There are embroidery types that seem to be the intrinsic talent of certain regions. The cardigans and shawls are hand-woven from the North especially the Himachal and Arunchal belt. This displays the rich handicraft culture of India. The modernization in winter wear is seen with details like pockets, zippers, blends of fabrics and easy feel wear. The gota work of Rajashtan and Punjab is skilled golden zari strips woven or fixed on to the main garment like a sari or the dupatta. The most comfortable dress is the salwar kameez that radiates Indianness and is also comfortable.

The south Indian Kerala set-saree is the beautiful print in cream and golden which can be teamed with colored blouses. The navvari sari or the nine yard drape of Mahrasthra is usually found in leaf green color that is symbolic of the newly married bride. The colors also seem to be in mauve, red or blues and the sarees happen as Narayan peth, paithani and various other Belgaum prints. The padavai is the ghagra choli for young girls in the south that is incomplete without the gold jewelry especially the kaashi gold chain and jhumki earrings. This is also modified as ghagra choli is simple cottons for daily wear in the villages and designed as the lehenga choli in designer wear in the metros.

Values in India :
Tradition in India is about values that transcend down generations automatically. These are genetic traits and simplicity is the main ingredient. Ancient culture believed in a lot of dogmas and rituals that can be termed as false beliefs and Indians are an intelligent lot to traverse these paths and modify the social requirements. Indians are highly flexible in the sense they would like to imbibe the changes dictated by western influence and yet clearly affirm their belief in traditions.

It is customary to respect elders and touch their feet as to seek their blessings. Occasions or festivals demand a lot of participation in terms of rangoli drawing, diyas and an array of yummy treats made in the authentic variety as per the caste and geography. Hindu rituals are a lot about song and dance and each family has a natural way to adjust to these formats. It is a ritual to pray to the Goddess of learning Ma Saraswathi to achieve success. Similarly business people always insist on drawing the Swastika which marks prosperity and worship the Goddess of wealth.

With the advent of technology and women emancipation there is a trend to mingle free with the western concepts of dress, belief, work and also get into a secular concept. But one can feel a distinct Indianness and most of our brethren abroad miss their homeland. Indians all over the world are known for their hospitality and high level of tolerance. Their adaptation power is high and hence they are able to scale heights in the international arena. Putting oneself on the global map, Indians are seeking new vistas of communicating their beliefs and tradition. The gift of health and well being through yoga and meditation is a great source of Vedas in the rich Hindu tradition which has actually benefited the world.

The values in India is about living life with a zest and observing the belief that there is one God prevailing despite so many religions. Respecting elders, understanding cross culture traditions, free mingling to accommodate tolerance, staying interested in rural welfare are the values of India. The artifacts, cuisine handicrafts, attire and lifestyle of the rural folks is still followed and preserved by Indians.

Family Culture of India :
Family is about joy and sharing. In India, the family culture is all about love and patience. A girl weds into a family and adjusts herself seamlessly to the rituals, routine and cuisine. Of late, one can see a lot of love marriages i.e. cross border mingling which is also being accepted by the elders in the family. Association with religious beliefs and sects is also followed by families as many families believe in a particular Guru or saint who guides them in their spiritual path. Families are also getting nuclear owing to independent lifestyle preference and also the concept where in both husband and wife is working and has demanding careers. This is quite common in metros where families are independent in their upbringing and yet love and respect the elders who reside separately. The earlier homes housed themselves together in very large families where one can actually see three or four generations put up together.

Certain families observe a matriarchal concept i.e. the groom resides in the house of the bride or also follows a tradition as per the bride’s ancestors. Generally India is patriarchal in the sense the children get the surname of the father and the wife changes her surname to follow that of the husbands. It is also a tradition in certain families that the wife changes her maiden name but again this concept is also changing. Indian families are very accommodating and willing to accept change. It is a concept to observe the karva chauth or the raksha bandhan with great aplomb. There is an occasion for gifting and seeking the blessings of elders. It is important to respect and hold certain family traditions which are unique in terms of cooking, rituals and beliefs. Families give a lot of importance to lighting the diya in the evening and also each person in family has a habit of doing the puja in his own way.

Metros are also seeing a lot of family value in celebrating birthdays and anniversaries by observing the rituals and also entertaining outdoors. The Indian culture has imbibed the right mix of western influence and yet maintaining the ethnic family tradition. There is more love in every family while blowing candles on the birthday cake and also lighting the diya to observe an Aarti for the birthday person.

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