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Culture” refers to a group or community which shares common experiences that shape the way its members understand the world. It includes groups that we are born into, such as race, national origin, gender, class, or religion. It can also include a group we join or become part of. [ref. (Links to an external site.)]

But culture is only one category or dimension of human behavior, and it  is therefore important to see it in relation to the other two dimensions: the universal and the personal. The three can be distinguished as follows:

  • universal refers to ways in which all people in all groups are the same;
  • cultural refers to what a particular group of people have in common with each other and how they are different from every other group;
  • personal describes the ways in which each one of us is different from everyone else, including those in our group. [ref. (Links to an external site.)]

Taking the definitions above as a starting point, think about your daily routines, including your interactions with others, and reflect on how much of your behavior and stances are culturally motivated. And what is your level of awareness regarding which of the three dimensions above most contribute to the way you conduct yourself in any given situation? Lastly, do you consider your culturally-induced attitudes as part of the national culture in which you grew up and live, or derive from a particular set of circumstances that positions you in a certain sub-group within – but in contrast with – the national norm?

The idea of this discussion is to encourage each one of you to think critically on issues we usually don’t stop and think too much about – and therefore there are no right or wrong answers.

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