March 9, 2012
What is the “concept of culture”? One may think that culture is just the ideas people of a certain group live by, but culture is much more complex than that. There are different theories on what culture is and what it is composed of. Two of the theories are Cultural assimilation and Cultural materialism.
Cultural assimilation is the believe that people adopt a culture depending on where they are. This usually occurs when immigrants move from one place to another. They assimilate into a new culture because they either want to become accepted in that new culture, or a forced to comply with that culture. An immigrant coming in to the United States for the first time would most likely assimilate to the American culture in order to feel more “at home” in a new country. They usually assimilate to cultures similar to their own, or assimilate to a totally new culture yet continue to carry on the rules of their own culture. Although some immigrants may want to continue following their own culture, as said in the Article “Assimilation of Immigrants” by Sungho, “Immigrants need to assimilate at some point even if they want to keep and preserve their own language”. Assimilating does not mean letting go of your first learned culture, but conforming to the culture of your present location. Assimilation is a form of adjustment and does not only occur to immigrants moving from country to country, but also to people moving from state to state, or from one city to another.
Some of the ways assimilation occurs is when the immigrant changes an aspect of themselves in order to “fit into” their new culture. A person trying to assimilate themselves would most likely participate in many of the activities of their new culture, including religious, entertainment, and occupations. Speaking in only the language of their new culture will also contribute to their assimilation process. Being able to speak the new language fluently or partially will allow them to feel more comfortable in the environment where this language is spoken. Some immigrants even go on to legally change their name, or name their children differently in order to sound more like the people of that culture. Assimilation allows all foreigners in a new place to adapt to their surrounds.
Cultural materialism is the believe that culture is learned through the materials a group of people possess; climate, food supply, wealth, and various things that contribute to a culture. Cultural materialism contributes to ethnocentrism, and gives a culture a sense of empowerment or inferiority; depending on how much this certain culture has when it comes to material count. Cultural materialism promotes technological, industrial and economic growth. The more technology and resources your culture or country produces, the more income it will receive. Although producing a lot of goods is a positive thing, it also leads to a lot of competition with other cultures. No culture would like to feel inferior so it will produce as many goods as possible to beat their competitors, which leads back to the concept of ethnocentrism. If a culture produces a lot of goods and has a lot of income, it will believe that it is better than the others who aren’t doing as well of a job in the same or similar industry.
Both these theories are interesting because they explain the reason why some people from certain cultures act the way they do. These theories allow one to analyze how is it that people learn their culture and how their culture affects them in their everyday lives.
What is Psychology? It is the study of the human mind and its functions, most importantly the parts of the mind that affect human behavior. There are many theories suggesting why humans act the way they do, such as behavioral, developmental, and humanist psychology. All these theories give reasonable explanation for why humans act certain ways.
Santonocito, Paula. “Understanding Cultural Assimilation”. Expatica. May 2006.
Sungho. “Assimilation of Immigrants”.
“Cultural Materialism”. http://www.cultural-materialism.org/whatis.asp