Communication Between Cultures

(Sean Pound) #1
cultural elements is the civil rights movement of the United States in the 1960s. This
movement brought about change in housing patterns, discrimination practices, educa-
tional opportunities, the legal system, and career opportunities. In more recent times,
in the last decade of the twentieth century, you can observe how the convergence of
“new technologies”mingled with a host of other cultural values, attitudes, and beha-
viors. Modes of communication brought about by digital technology and the Internet
have produced numerous problems associated with privacy, language, and the use of
face-to-face communication.
Second, we remind you that the pull of culture begins at birth and continues
throughout life—and some cultures say even after life. Using the standard language
of her time (sexist by today’s standards), the famous anthropologist Ruth Benedict
offered an excellent explanation of why culture is such a powerful influence on all
aspects of human behavior. Professor Benedict’s quote is intriguing in that although
she wrote it over sixty years ago, it is as true today as it was then. Actually, it would
be accurate if she were describing events forty thousand years ago:
The life history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns
and standards traditionally handed down in his community. From the moment of his birth
the customs into which he is born shape his experience and behavior. By the time he can
talk, he is the little creature of his culture, and by the time he is grown and able to take
part in its activities, its habits are his habits, its beliefs his beliefs, its impossibilities his
impossibilities. Every child that is born into his group will share them with him, and no
child born into the opposite side of the globe can ever achieve the thousandth part.^91
The important point to take away from our entire discussion of culture is elo-
quently expressed in the following sentences:“God gave to every people a cup, a
cup of clay, and from this cup they drank life.... They all dipped in the water, but
their cups were different.”^92 This book is about how those“different cups”influence
how people perceive the world and how they behave in that world.

Sports are much more
than simple games to a
culture in that there
are often overt and
covert messages in the
behavior of the

Clayton Sharrard/PhotoEdit

60 CHAPTER 2•Communication and Culture: The Voice and the Echo

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