Cultural Phenomena

Cultural Phenomena

Human communities have a variety of practices, beliefs, social roles, norms, expressions, forms of organization and conflicts (economic, political, legal, religious, expressive and artistic) that exhibit various sorts of internal coherence as well as cleavages within communities. These coherences and cleavages bear many close connections to the different historical experiences, physical and social environments in which people live. They include configurations of elements and characteristic ways of interrelating that are shared with neighboring and interacting groups, and shared among dispersed groups that have common historical experiences and similarities, including common origin, common membership in historical civilizations, and languages that are mutually understood or that derive common families. Lines of cleavage, conflict, and marginality, of course, are part of cultural phenomena.

Elements and relationships that individuals or communities have in common are shared in a variety of ways. Some, such as the more intensive patterns of interaction that derive from common residence, joint experience, and discourse in a common language or system of signs, are relatively well bounded. Other patterns of sharing or similarity derive from processes of dispersal: migration, diaspora, the trajectory of lives lived through spatial movements, social mobility, careers, distinctive histories. Interactions are by no means limited to localities, but to the trajectories of inhabitants who move through and between localities. Cultures consist of shared constructions that emerge out of social interactions of sets of individuals who inhabit overlapping social and physical spaces. Coherence may be viewed as an emergent property, but may be present or absent to varying degrees and along varying dimensions or trajectories.

From “Cross-Cultural Research: An Introduction for Students“ by Douglas R. White



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