Communication Between Cultures

(Sean Pound) #1
unique, and explains the“how”and“why”of a culture’s collective action—action
that is often difficult for“outsiders”to understand. Examination of some aspects of a
culture’s deep structure can provide insight into and improve understanding of that
culture’s perspectives on ethics, notions of child rearing, ideas about God, nature,
aesthetics, and the meaning of life, and even attitudes toward death.
At the core of any culture’s deep structure are thesocial organizationswe introduced
in Chapter 2. These organizations, sometimes referred to associal institutions, are the
groups and affiliations that members of a culture turn to for lessons about the most
important aspects of life. Thousands of years ago, as cultures became more and more
advanced and their populations increased, they began to recognize that there was a
necessity to organize collectively. These collective institutions, whether family,
church, or community, offer their members alliances that they can count on. While
these organizations create a social structure that allows members to meet basic needs,
they also coalesce the members into a cohesive unit. Bates and Plog repeat this
important notion about social organizations, noting,“Our ability to work in coopera-
tion with others in large social groupings and coordinate the activities of many people
to achieve particular purposes is a vital part of human adaptation.”^1 A number

Families, as a social
institution, allow their
members to meet basic
needs as they learn
about cooperation,
identity, and the
values and behaviors
that are important to
the culture they were
born into.

Courtesy of Robert Fonseca

The Deep Structure of Culture: Lessons from the Family 69

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