Chapter 4 – The Deep Structure of Culture Introduction:
It is essential to understand and appreciate the deep structure of culture since it impacts our perception and interaction with the world. Culture significantly shapes our interpretation of reality, and its deep structure establishes the uniqueness and unity of each culture. Recognizing and comprehending this deep structure is crucial as conflicts and misunderstandings often arise from fundamental cultural differences that shape one’s cultural identity.
Cultural collisions are apparent globally, such as instances of “ethnic violence” in Africa, conflicts between Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan, and the loss of many lives in conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians. In these cases, it is the underlying cultural foundation, rather than interpersonal communication, that fuels these issues. When ethnic and cultural confrontations arise in different regions, it is an expression of the deep-rooted cultural structure. Cultural differences are significant factors in creating divisions among people and serving as the main sources of conflict.
Various civilizations have differing perspectives on the connections between God and individuals, the individual and society, citizens and the government, parents and children, as well as spouses. Additionally, these civilizations hold diverse opinions on the significance of rights versus responsibilities, liberty versus authority, and equality versus hierarchy. Topics such as God, loyalty, family, community, state, allegiance, and more have been present in all cultures for numerous years. To fully comprehend any culture’s principles it is essential to grasp its fundamental principles.
The deep structure of a culture possesses a long history and is deeply ingrained in its fundamental institutions. According to Delgado, these institutions play a crucial role in producing and perpetuating culture, offering insights into diverse perspectives and values held by cultures. The collective actions of a culture are influenced by its world view (religion), family structure, and state (community/government). These three social organizations collaborate to define, create, transmit, maintain, and reinforce the core elements of every culture. Not only do these institutions have an enduring history, but they also remain essential components of modern life.
Studying intercultural communication requires understanding world view, family, and community for four interconnected reasons. The deep structure of institutions represents a culture’s most significant beliefs. Religion, parents, and the community educate individuals about what is valuable and the goals one should strive for. The three institutions of church, family, and state assist individuals in making important decisions regarding material possessions and spiritual fulfillment in their lives.
Various institutions, including church, family, and state, offer guidance on significant topics such as our role in the world, belief systems, the existence of suffering, life expectations, loyalty, and even preparing for death. The profound messages conveyed by these institutions have a long-lasting impact on cultural preservation.
These institutions, with their religious, family, and community values, have a significant impact on society. The teachings of well-known figures like Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad are passed down through generations. Whether it is the Eightfold Path, the Ten Commandments, or the Five Pillars of Islam, these texts continue to convey enduring messages. Each new generation inherits wisdom and traditions that contribute to their culture’s distinctiveness. It is important to recognize that deep-seated animosities between cultures can persist as well. However, these profound institutions evoke strong emotions in individuals. Even a disrespectful mention of God’s name can lead to violent reactions. Throughout history, countries and religious causes have utilized these institutions to inspire young men into participating in wars while politicians take advantage by appealing to the importance of God, country, and family during elections. Regardless of cultural background or upbringing, one’s culture elicits intense feelings due to its deep structure. Moreover , deep structure institutions play a vital role in shaping individuals’ identities since we are not born with a fixed identity; thus making it one of any culture’s primary responsibilities to aid its members in establishing who they truly areThe process of socialization in the family is instrumental in our personal development and understanding of our identities (Charon). This involves interacting with others and cultivating various identities, including kinship, occupation, culture, institutions, territory, education, political affiliation, ideology, and more (Huntington). These diverse identities contribute to an individual’s overall sense of self. Of particular importance is the establishment of deep-rooted institutional identities that connect individuals to a collective unit. This transformation occurs when individuals recognize themselves as part of a larger whole within their community. From early childhood onwards, one distinguishes oneself from others by asserting “I am!”, leading to an increasing awareness of “We are”, acknowledging dominant groups who share physical and cognitive characteristics within the community (Kakar). This collective identity aligns individuals with cultural groups and primary institutions within that culture. Despite cultural variations, every person identifies themselves with these cultural groups due to their heritage, beliefs, language, past events, principles, rituals,and establishments (Huntington).
The study of intercultural communication emphasizes the significance of cultural identities. According to Guirdham, these identities help in recognizing similarities and differences in behaviors, interpretations, and norms. Cultural identity plays a significant role in shaping an individual’s “lifeways.” World View, as stated by Lynch and Hanson, holds great importance in a culture as it influences perception and behavior on various levels.
According to Rapport and Overing, world view is known as the English translation of the German word Weltanschauung. It refers to an overarching philosophy or outlook on life and a conception of the world. The phrase “overarching philosophy” highlights the importance of world view. World views play a crucial role in constructing, populating, and anticipating social worlds. These social worlds are distinct because they are closely tied to perception and culture. World view provides an internal perspective on how things are perceived, influenced, and organized based on personal cultural preconceptions, according to Hoebel and Frost.
Worldviews are automatic and unconscious, similar to culture. According to Hall, we are often unaware that there are other possible or legitimate ways of viewing the world. Like breathing air, worldviews are essential to our identity but are not typically contemplated. Dana emphasizes that worldviews contribute to perception and the understanding of reality for members of a shared culture.
The worldview of a culture serves to interpret life experiences that may otherwise be seen as chaotic, random, and purposeless. This worldview is established by the collective knowledge of a society, providing a foundation for approved actions that facilitate survival and adaptation. As stated by Hoebel, “When selecting customs for everyday life, even the smallest details, a society chooses those practices that align with its beliefs and preferences, fitting its fundamental assumptions about the nature of things and what is considered desirable or undesirable.”
According to Olayiwola, a culture’s world view has a widespread impact on the social, economic, and political aspects of a nation. Since world views encompass topics that affect all aspects of human life, they commonly address questions about the meaning of life. Pennington emphasizes the significance of studying these essential matters, as understanding a culture’s world view and cosmology can help predict behaviors and motivations in various dimensions.
The culture’s worldview encompasses its perspective on God, humanity, nature, existence, the universe, life, morals, ethical reasoning, suffering, sickness, death, and other philosophical matters that influence how its members perceive the world. For instance, the Islamic worldview offers insight into how the Islamic culture sees women. According to Bianquis, women are generally subordinate to men based on the Quran and Hadith. Women were created from a part of man’s body to serve him. Understanding a culture’s worldview can also shed light on its perception of nature, which is viewed as enduring and encompassing the lives and deaths of ancestors. Additionally, worldview influences behavior in areas like the business realm. The religious and philosophical beliefs of a people form the foundation of a nation’s culture and significantly shape its social and business conduct. These beliefs give rise to role perceptions, behavior patterns, codes of ethics, and the established manner in which economic activities are conducted.
The way a culture conducts its business is reflected in its worldview. For example, if a culture values intuitive problem solving and processes that are not consciously perceived, their conclusions may differ from a culture that values the scientific method. Howell gives an example: A Japanese manager facing a complex problem studies it extensively and once they feel they have grasped the problem, they do not gather data or develop hypotheses. They instead wait, as they believe their “center of wisdom” lies in their lower abdomen, situated behind and slightly below the navel.
In due time a message will come from the center, giving him the answer he desires. ” What is interesting about Howell’s example is that in the Buddhist tradition, where meditation is stressed, a common meditation technique is watching one’s breath as it originates in the abdomen. Here again you can see the tie between world view and behavior. We have attempted to make it very clear that world view, perception, and communication are bound together. Regardless of category or description, we’re all inextricably connected through a system of actions and their effects, which can go according to cosmic order or fall out of synchrony with it.
Throughout history, religion has been closely tied to culture and has had a profound impact on shaping and defining cultures. Coogan highlights this connection by asserting that belief in something beyond humanity has greatly influenced cultures. The task of creating and safeguarding world views has typically been assigned to religious organizations such as the Catholic Church or revered spiritual figures like the Buddha.
Throughout history, individuals have turned to various religious texts such as the Bible, Vedas, Koran, Torah, or I Ching for guidance and values. Religion has always provided principles by which people live their lives and a framework for comprehending and interpreting the world. Experts agree that religions persist because they fulfill important psychological and social needs.
Haviland suggests that religion serves vital functions in easing anxiety by providing explanations for the unknown and offering comfort through belief in supernatural assistance during crises. Additionally, religion establishes moral frameworks by defining right and wrong, shaping accepted behaviors, and relieving individuals of decision-making burdens by placing them under higher powers.
Religious rituals also contribute to preserving oral traditions and enhancing learning. Ultimately, religion plays a pivotal role in fostering social cohesion.
Culture is a broad concept that encompasses different facets of human existence. It includes topics such as life and death, the origins of the universe, the formation of society and its subgroups, interactions between individuals and groups, and the relationship between humanity and nature (Nanda). These fundamental elements are essential in defining culture because they explore subjects that hold great significance for people. Whether pondering the ultimate origin of everything or seeking religious interpretations for events like comets, floods, lightning, thunder, droughts, famines, diseases or abundant food supplies; individuals frequently rely on their faith to find answers.
The study of religion has a twofold role: it aids individuals in discovering significance and direction in life, while also illuminating the communal aspects within a culture. The social functions of religion hold equal importance to its psychological functions. A conventional religion serves to reinforce collective standards, impart moral principles for personal conduct, and establish a shared objective and system of values which are essential for upholding societal equilibrium. Religion offers valuable perspectives into the constituents of a specific culture. As noted by Lamb, religion and culture are profoundly interconnected.
When studying religion, we gain the ability to interact with different centers and calendars, as well as varying beliefs about what is sacred and profane. It also helps us appreciate diverse languages and behaviors. To accomplish this, it is crucial to have knowledge about different religious traditions (Paden). When selecting which religious traditions to focus on in our studies, we consider three factors: their following size, impact extent, and importance.
Statistical studies show that Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism each have over one billion followers globally. Buddhism is also widely practiced in Southeast Asia and has cultural significance in China and Japan. According to Carmody and Carmody, these major religions meet certain criteria: they have existed for centuries, influenced numerous individuals, and received admiration for their broad scope. Another criterion is diffusion, which refers to the worldwide spread of a religion. For instance, although there are only 14 million Jews worldwide, they can be found across the globe with Israel hosting only one third of them. The global dissemination efforts made by Christianity and Islam have also contributed to their widespread presence. Ultimately, these six traditions remain relevant today just as they did thousands of years ago.
Both the historical significance and global impact make them important. The worldwide reach of Islam exemplifies how knowledge about this religion and others helps in understanding different cultures. There are seven points that demonstrate the similarities between cultures and people in their pursuit of meaning in life and comprehension of death experiences. These points include the role of sacred scriptures as sources of identity, authorization, and ideals for people within a tradition. All major religious traditions possess a body of sacred wisdom expressed through oral or written scriptures, serving as a means for passing down insights and traditions across generations. The scriptures also establish the essential principles and doctrines of a religion. Within Christianity, the Bible consists of thirty-nine books in the Old Testament written in Hebrew and twenty-seven books in the New Testament written in Greek, serving as its written centerpiece.
For Jews, the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, is a significant document that has endured for thousands of years and offers guidance for the present and future. The Koran, according to Muslims, was dictated by Allah to the prophet Muhammad and is written in classical Arabic. Muslims view the memorization of the text during childhood as both an introduction to literacy and a religious practice. In Hinduism, the sacred writings are known as the Vedas and are written in Sanskrit. These divine teachings encompass a wide range of texts. The Pali Canon contains the teachings of Buddha and is based on an oral tradition. Pali became the canonical language for Buddhists from various countries, but other languages such as Chinese and Japanese also produced comparable texts as the religion evolved. Followers of Confucian tradition rely on the Analects, which have shaped the thoughts and actions of billions for centuries.
2) Almost all religious orientations have individuals recognized as having special significance, usually authority figures who provide guidance and instruction.
All traditions have a figure greater than the individual, such as Allah, the Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, or Confucius, who can provide emotional and spiritual guidance. Additionally, traditional rituals are not instinctive and must be passed down through generations in order to endure. Rituals are one of the oldest and most complex symbolic activities associated with religions.
According to Haviland, ritual serves multiple purposes. It not only reinforces social bonds and relieves tensions, but it also celebrates important events and eases the impact of crises like death on individuals. Alongside these functions, rituals also express the participants’ psychic, social, and religious world while offering identity and structure. Thus, rituals come in diverse forms.
The range of traditions varies, encompassing rites of passage such as Bar Mitzvahs (a ceremony in Judaism marking a boy’s 13th birthday and assumption of religious obligations) and circumcision, as well as customs such as lighting candles or incense, wearing specific attire, and deciding prayer positions. Rituals can also involve journeys to Mecca for Muslims or the celebration of Christmas and Easter for Christians. Ultimately, every religion recognizes the universal human desire for answers to life’s profound mysteries.
Every tradition aims to provide answers to the profound mysteries of life that often trouble people. Questions about mortality, immortality, suffering, the creation of the universe, and various other events are addressed by each tradition. Genesis narratives and explanations of reincarnation, death, heaven, and hell are found across all traditions, offering responses to timeless and overwhelming inquiries. Additionally, it is fascinating that ethical principles are consistent among different cultures. Irrespective of the specific tradition, every religion encompasses an ethical code that encompasses principles such as abstaining from murder, theft, lying, and adultery.
According to Coogan, all religious traditions emphasize the importance of humility, charity, and truthfulness. These ethical principles are aimed at helping individuals achieve the ultimate goal of their respective traditions, which is salvation, redemption, enlightenment, and liberation of the soul. Additionally, religious beliefs provide a sense of security by giving meaning to the vulnerable human condition. With this sense of purpose, individuals are less likely to despair when faced with life’s hardships.
All religions offer their members a sense of identity and safety by fostering shared symbols, values, and norms. The comforting knowledge that you belong to a religious community that celebrates together on specific days, dresses similarly during prayer, and participates in rituals like bowing or taking Holy Communion builds a sense of security. This sense of security is further strengthened by the fact that all religious traditions provide meaning and purpose. Another shared experience among all religions is the recognition of sacred and significant moments in time.
This recognition of the significance of time may signify important occasions such as days, months, years, life cycles, and significant historical events. It is important to note that religion is just one type of worldview. Even individuals who claim that there is no God still have their own answers to fundamental questions about truth, the functioning of the world, life, death, suffering, and social connections. It is crucial to acknowledge that everyone possesses a worldview, whether or not they are able to articulate or recognize it. Additionally, religion permeates various aspects of life that may be categorized as secular, and it is not easily separable from them.
Hendry It is often challenging to distinguish between religion and its subtle expressions. The terminology used may vary, with one person referring to it as religion while another may consider it as philosophy. However, what truly matters is that a culture’s heritage encompasses approaches to address eternal and fundamental inquiries. iii) “The world’s significant religious traditions have both mirrored and influenced the principles of societies in which they have been an integral part. Religion centers on individuals and their interactions. Christianity”
Christianity, a religion followed by over a billion people worldwide, is also the dominant belief system in America. There are numerous Christian groups or denominations, each with their own unique rituals, beliefs, and traditions. However, they all share fundamental characteristics and principles that define Christianity. At its core, Christianity is a monotheistic tradition that revolves around faith in God, the eternal creator who is both separate from and involved in the world, and in Jesus Christ as the savior and redeemer of humanity.
Christianity believes that Jesus of Nazareth is God incarnate and fully human. It is believed that Jesus died on a cross and physically rose from the dead. The concept of the Trinity, which sees Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one God, is central to the Christian faith. A core belief in Christianity is that the crucified Jesus was resurrected by God and is present in the church as the “body of Christ.” While some of Jesus’ teachings have been modified over time, there are still many characteristics of Christianity that show the connection between religion, perception, and behavior. One of these characteristics is organized worship.
Christians view the church as having various functions, encompassing both religious and social aspects. In Christian theology, organized worship is esteemed as a way to convey God’s message. It is important to note that this concept of organized worship has influenced the social nature of Western societies. Americans are inherently sociable beings and participate in multiple clubs, committees, and organizations. The origin of this behavior could possibly be attributed to Christian beliefs. Contrastingly, in the East, individuals tend to practice their spiritual lives in isolation, while in the West, God’s “message” is shared amongst others.
Ethics have been a significant aspect of Christianity for the past two millennia. Jesus, at the beginning of Christian history, introduced ethical principles that were meant to guide believers. These principles can be found in the Ten Commandments and scattered throughout the Bible. However, Jesus’ own life and teachings on the significance of love are perhaps the most influential ethical teachings. Love is emphasized repeatedly in the New Testament, with instructions such as “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Do to others what you would like them to do to you.” The impact of these teachings can be observed through various demonstrations of love and compassion, such as Americans making generous charitable contributions and their willingness to travel abroad to improve the lives of strangers. Alongside these ethical teachings, Christianity also played a role in shaping the concept of individualism. While being part of a church community holds importance to Christians, it is believed by religious scholars that Christianity played a part in the development of Western ideals regarding the value of the individual.
Salvation, especially for Protestants, is acquired solely through our own efforts and deeds are given more importance than prayers. Christianity emphasizes personal conversion as a means to discover individuality. Furthermore, Christian theology starts with the belief that the world is both real and meaningful due to God’s creation. Humans hold significance as they are created in God’s image and have a unique connection with Him. God perceives and listens to each individual, rewarding and punishing them accordingly. Every person carries importance to Him.
The Christian God desires a personal relationship with his creation, making Christianity a perfect fit for a culture that values individualism. The Western value of “doing” can be seen in the life of Jesus, who went about doing good. Jesus’ example inspired others to take action, such as when Christians would nurse the sick that the Romans would cast out into the streets out of fear of death. This active role in caring for others was not uncommon among Christians.
Jesus, in his teachings, emphasized the importance of being active and energetic. In Christianity, he is portrayed as a proactive figure who traveled to various places, providing healing and guidance to individuals from all walks of life. This inseparable connection between Christianity and activity can be found throughout the Bible. When compared to other religions, Christianity places great significance on the future. Regardless of past events, Christians believe that the future holds the greatest potential and promise.
God offers forgiveness for mistakes, regret, and remorse. According to Christians, those who acknowledge their sins, repent, and turn to Jesus Christ will receive forgiveness and will eventually share in his eternal kingdom after death. Therefore, individuals are encouraged to “move on” from their past. This future-focused mindset is also reflected in the concept of heaven. Christianity, a religion that places great importance on language, plays a significant role in shaping our cultural traits.
The significance of language for Christians is evident from the concept of “God as the Word” to the use of written documents in the New Testament gospels. The role of language in Christianity is further emphasized by the practice of preaching and standing on a pulpit. To be a part of a “religious community,” interaction with others is essential. Christians also believe that language is relied upon by God to reveal himself to humans, both in the Bible and through godly individuals. The importance of language is further demonstrated by the prevalence of teachings in the Bible, which often take the form of stories.
Gender: The Garden of Eden story has had a lasting impact on women. Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy best exemplifies this view: “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became the transgressor.” Although this story has often been used to justify treating women as inferior, contemporary understandings and interpretations of the Bible present a more progressive view of women.
With the exception of the Catholic Church, the number of women becoming priests is rapidly increasing. Some biblical scholars argue that Jesus could have been a feminist and provide examples to support their claim. Before Jesus, Roman society considered women inferior to men, allowing husbands to divorce wives while wives had no such right. Jesus, however, banned divorce and challenged the practice of men marrying young girls of just ten or eleven years old.
One biblical scholar wrote that the new religion provided women with increased status and influence in the church, as well as offering them more protection as wives and mothers. Another scholar mentioned that although Jesus specifically called only men to be apostles, he readily accepted women into his circle of friends and disciples. Jesus even went against societal norms by inviting women to dine with him. This led Murphy to observe that women were frequently mentioned in accounts of Jesus’ ministry, and he recognized the oppression they faced. Ultimately, Jesus played a role in redefining women’s roles by assigning them greater responsibility.
For example, women in Christianity also had the responsibility of teaching children, as stated in the Proverbs: “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” Courage is an important theme in Christianity, seen in the bravery of Jesus. The life of Jesus shows that he was not afraid of his opponents. There are many instances where Jesus displayed his strong personality. Christians are frequently reminded of his strength and courage. These traits are also valued in American culture.
Here again, the link between world view and communication styles can be observed. b) Judaism Background: Judaism is the oldest and smallest of the religions currently being practiced. Despite Jews only representing less than one-half of 1 percent of the world’s population (approximately 14 million Jews), and appr