Cultural Beliefs, Norms and Practices | Free Essay Example

Cultural Beliefs, Norms and Practices

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Topic: Sociology
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Cultural Beliefs in Sweden: Cooperation

There is hardly a single thing that is just as important to people as the sense of belonging and the search for the ideas that can help them in the process of self0identifiction. Luckily enough, when being a part of a certain culture, one is already offered a range of various ideas that characterize the specifics of the national culture. It can be considered that cultural beliefs are a range of personal beliefs that can be attributed to a certain nation or culture. To consider an example of cultural beliefs, one can take a closer look at some of the European countries, such as Sweden.

According to what Kessler and MingJi say, in Sweden, the idea of cooperation is more than just common courtesy – it is natural for people to work in a team and lend a helping hand in complicated situations. As Kessler and MingJi explain, “One of the most important Swedish cultural beliefs is the superior efficiency and the results of cooperation in comparison to competition and confrontation” (Kessler and MingJi 171).

At the given point, it is easy to compare Sweden with other countries where cultural beliefs are different and where competitive spirit is actually of much greater value than the need to work in a team. For instance, in the majority of the modern European countries, as well as in the USA, the idea of competitiveness makes much more sense than the concept of cooperation, especially in the environment of the rivalry between various companies, as well as between the staff a the same company. Therefore, it can be considered that cooperation is a typical Swedish cultural value.

Cultural Values in Ecuador: Machismo

When it comes to defining the elements which a culture of a certain nation is made of, the concept of cultural values will inevitably pop up. Considered one of the most essential elements that shape people’s national identity, cultural values are quite easy to define. Cultural value is a value which is shared by all or most of the people who belong to a certain culture. However, to see what the above-mentioned means, it is necessary to consider some of the examples of cultural values.

In Ecuador, for instance, such a phenomenon as machismo is often regarded as a specific cultural value. It is important to emphasize, though, that machismo is nowadays a cultural value which is cherished mostly among the representatives of the lower class. As Blasier explains, “The lower-class person believes that he and others have a unique inner dignity (dignidad de la persona), which must be respected by others, including people of the higher levels of society. Machismo (manliness) is one aspect of personalism” (Blasier 9). It is quite important that the ideas of cultural values can sometimes clash with the issues of morality: according to Blasier, a “macho” should “assert his sexual virility by having a girlfriend other than his wife” (Blasier 9).

It is necessary to keep in mind that cultural values can easily clash in conflict with certain aspects of morality, not to mention the cultural norms of other countries and nationalities. Taking the above-mentioned example into consideration, one must admit that the idea of machismo is hardly appropriate in the present-day world; however, as an element of one of the African countries, machismo works perfectly well. The above-mentioned does not mean that machismo should be promoted in society; however, the given phenomenon is what works for Ecuador at present, which means that the state should redefine its national values.

Cultural Norms in Kenya: Concerning Women Discrimination

Designed to establish certain standards for behavior in a certain context for the given nation, society or group of people, cultural norms are also a major part of national identity. Serving as a means to control people’s behavior in a certain society, cultural norms define a nation in a certain way. It is important to keep in mind that what can be a cultural norm in one country can appear a completely inappropriate manner of behavior in another one.

Taking Kenya as an example, one must admit that, unfortunately, discrimination against women has been a cultural norm here for quite long. As Murunga and Nasong’o explain, women in Kenya “are denied constitutional protection from sex-based discrimination” (178). Though the given phenomenon cannot be treated as a positive one, it is still a cultural norm in Kenya. Though at present, women liberation movement exists (Murunga and Nasong’o), the discrimination issues still remain unsolved.

As it has been mentioned above, cultural norms in different countries can vary to a considerable extent; however, the given idea does not mean that discrimination of any kind should be regarded as a cultural norm of a certain country and be looked at as something to grind and bear. Despite the fact that women’s rights in Kenya have been reduced to nil for such long time that it has become a kind of a cultural norm to prevent Kenyan women from obtaining any sort of freedom and self-respect, there are movements against the given Kenyan cultural norm, and these movements need to be supported.

Social Practices in Malaysia: Literacy Issues

The last, but definitely not the least, social practices as a peculiar phenomenon should be considered as well. Social practice can be defined as the practice which aims at increasing the level of literacy in a certain state. To show the way in which social practices can affect the life of a certain country, the situation in Malaysia can be considered.

According to the research offered by Kalantzis and Pandian, the situation with literacy among the general public in Malaysia leaves much to be desired. Despite the developed literacy enhancement plan, many people remain illiterate: “A cursory investigation into several schooling centers revealed that the actual implementations of these documents were fraught with different difficulties” (Kalantzis and Pandian 14). Hence, a Literacy Research Group has been formed to deal with these difficulties and establish a better educational system. According to the existing data, the given project is bound to be a major success in promoting literacy not only among the Malaysian children but also among the adults.

Hence, it can be alleged that with the social practice that Laos has recently undertaken, the state can expect a considerable improvement of the literacy issues within a relatively short amount of time. In spite of the fact that the literacy issues are quite complicated in the country, it can be suggested that, once people realize that literacy offers much more opportunities in terms of work and social position, the situation will improve greatly.

Works Cited

Blasier, Cole. Constructive Change in Latin America. Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburg Press, 1968. Print.

Kalantzis, Mary and Ambigapathy Pandian. Literacy Matters: Issues for New Times. Melbourne, AU: Common Ground.

Kessler, Eric H. and Diana J. MingJi. Cultural Mythology & Global Leadership. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009. Print.

Murunga, Godwin R. and Shadrack W. Nasong’o. Kenya: The Struggle for Democracy. London, UK: Zed Books, 2007. Print.