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Cultural Assumptions 2


Cultural Assumptions 2 More of the underlying assumptions that Americans make which complicates their understanding of other cultures and thus how to communicate to them – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Cultural Assumptions 2

Cultural Assumptions 2
  • More of the underlying assumptions that Americans
    make which complicates their understanding of
    other cultures and thus how to communicate to them

V. Equality of all humansIntroduction
  • Relationships are horizontal between two
    autonomous individuals who are presumed to be
  • Basic meaning is equal opportunity (not leveling
    everyone to a common social level).
  • Equal say in decision making
  • The majority do not violate the rights of the
  • Though not always practiced (treatment of
    minority groups) few would argue these groups are
    inferior or should remain in lower classes
  • Concept is absurd to most of World today
  • As humans are higher than animals, so some humans
    are always higher than others
  • S.E. Asian caste system categorizes people
    intrinsically different without the same rights,
    or opportunities
  • Lower castes are only paying for previous sins in
    a former life.
  • If they accept the suffering, their sins will be
    purged and later born into a higher caste next
  • To say that all are equal is to say that sin is
    never punished, and righteousness is destroyed.

b. Informality
  • Because of our view of equality, NAs dont
    understand hierarchical relations
  • Where rank is important giving respect is vital
    or a horrible insult results
  • Americans like to kid around, but can be
    destructive, especially with a superior.

c. Competition and Free Enterprise
  • Winning is part of NAs culture
  • Schools train for competition and self-reliance
  • Little place is given to losers, weak, failures,
    slow or retarded
  • Western mentality is to play by the rules.
    Umpires act as God and in like manner the
    government keeps everything fair.
  • Competition
  • This is foreign to much of world
  • Many teach not to compete or take issue with
  • Told not to try to be the best or disagree with a
    teacher or elder

d. Direct and Confrontational
  • NAs want to face a problem and solve it quickly
  • Japanese prefer to work indirectly to achieve
    ones purpose
  • Skill in social maneuvers is praised
  • Bluntness is embarrassing.
  • Better to solve the problem in private and
    announce it in meeting
  • In Thailand a 3rd part is used to reach
    agreement, even to choose a mate or buying a
    house (like our broker)

e. Cooperation in group
  • Competition motivates individuals to cooperate as
    long as the personal goals can be realized. Thus
    commitment is only partial
  • Other cultures think we are only opportunists

VI. Priority of Time over SpaceIntroduction
  • NAs has high value on time (it is scarce and
    should be saved). It can be wasted and lost
    forever. Employers buy the time of employees.
  • Non-industrial cultures work is not tied to time,
    but to a task to be done, seasonal fluctuations,
    temperature and rain, or ceremonial cycles.
  • Rituals, dramas, and church services begin when
    people arrive! Visits seldom pay any attention
    to the clock

b. Linear Time
  • NAs concept of Time has a beginning and end,
    flows at a steady rate, without repeating and can
    be measured and planned
  • Two questions always in the Western Mind
    How/When did things begin? And How will they
  • In the rest of the world it is not a commodity
    nor is it linear.
  • In Africa it is episodic and discontinuous
    (mythical time, historical time, ritual time,
    agricultural time, seasonal time, solar time,
    lunar time, etc)
  • In S. Asia time is cyclical and linear, born and
    reborn, where these cycles are part of the
    greater life of a god, with beginning and end.

c. Future Orientation
  • For NAs the future is most important
  • We plan as if we could control the future
  • Spend little time learning about our ancestors
  • Old ways inferior to new ways
  • Keep date books with schedules months in advance
  • Other cultures focus on either past or present
  • Traditional Africa though focus on the past
  • Mythical past of great tribal events
  • Recent past of known ancestors
  • Immediate past and immediate future
  • Traditional Chinese thought places emphasis on
    the present

d. Emphasis on Youth
  • Evident in commercial advertising and
  • There are few attempts to involve old into
    mainstream society, like they have little to
  • Around the world the elderly are viewed
    positively, shown respect, given honor, with no
    concept of retirementwhich is a Western concept

e. Time over Space
  • For NAs time is more important than space.
  • Land is a commodity that can be bought and sold
    like anything elsewith time land becomes more
  • Time is precious because we live our lives only
    once and it is gone
  • Elsewhere land is sacred and more important than
  • Ties people to their ancestors, cultural heroes,
    or gods
  • The closest we come to understanding this view is
    IsraelAll our biblical history is felt
    thereIsrael will die to protect it.
  • Perhaps the greatest obstacle to evangelistic
    work with the American Indians is how we took
    their land and put them in meaningless areas,
    gutting their spirit to this day!

VII. Emphasis on SightIntroduction
  • NAs emphasize sight over sound, touch, taste or
    smell (world view, I see or Lets look at a
    situation) Plato made the switch from oral to
    visual ideas modeled by an immobile figure
    visualized on a motionless field.
  • Most of the world is in an oral society where the
    primary experiences are passing events and
  • The idea that the world is a dynamic interaction
    of people and other things
  • Thoughts are highly organized, but in different
    ways (formulas, proverbs, riddles, myths, etc.),
    mostly dealing with concrete human experiences
    rather than abstract thoughts.
  • Usually involve an interaction with hearers
  • As we are affected by literature and TV, they are
    by stories.

b. Abstract Knowledge
  • Writing divorces the reader from the messenger
  • The concepts of the book are tested, not on the
    credibility of the writer whom we dont know, but
    on the ideas themselves.
  • We tend to build abstract systems of ideas not
    related to daily life.
  • Missionaries often guilty of teaching ideas
    unrelated to daily lifemore concerned about
    right theology than practical living.
  • Jesus taught in practical parables
  • Oral people listen to someone they
    respectcommunication is tied to the person

c. Storage of Information in Writing
  • NAs trust a written message invest in school,
    books, magazines with little thought given to the
    traditional non-literate forms of communication
  • Much of world depends on oral information stored
    in songs, proverbs, riddles, stories, drama,
    dance, ritual and oratory.
  • They do not have to become literate to become a
  • We do not have to wait the 15 years to translate
    the Bible

d. Emphasis on Knowledge
  • With information storage in written form great
    value on knowledge
  • Those who acquire it are given high status.
    Science would be impossible without it.
  • Often this is divorced from lifeFaith is usually
    described in terms of knowledge rather than
  • To many understanding the gospel is a verbal
    assent, rather than giving our lives in
  • Oral cultures prize wisdomthe ability to deal
    with everyday life, the skill of knowing how to
    live. Many illiterates are very wise.

e. Systematic
  • Writing allows us to organize much information
    and rework them.
  • Divorces rational thought from feeling. Printed
    page cannot communicate emotion like an oral
  • We stress long rang planning, logical development
    of educational program.
  • In oral societies life is experienced for what it
    really isa series of interruptionsthough
    systematic thinking is necessary for leadership
    to guide young believers.

Missionary Bias
  1. Not everyone is effected by all weve discussed
  2. Our way of thinking is very deeply held and is
    assumed correct
  3. Important to recognize the extent of our cultural
    bias and understand others are the result of a
    different set of bias
  4. We dont have to give up our assumptions because
    we need them to organize our thoughts.
  5. Our cultural assumptions may run contrary to the
    Bible. We are not a Christian culture though
    highly influenced by it.
  6. If we confuse our gospel with our culture we will
    introduce a culturally-bound gospel to others.