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Culture lag and culture shock

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  • leafers sapling style avatar for user Ali Rashid
    Do television and media in general lessen culture shock?
    (9 votes)
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    • female robot grace style avatar for user Inger Hohler
      Not necessarily. In fact, it might even increase it. Just think about how foreigners would judge Americans if all they saw were CNN, the Simpsons and old Dynasty episodes. Much of what you see and hear through media is just a caricature of the culture. Watching Spanish TV as I did for a couple of months two years ago one might be tempted to think that all women go around looking like perpetual question marks, with their eyebrows raised and mouths left open in the shape of an O between sentences, and always dressing in tight dressed and displaying their legs to their best advantage. Fortunately I was in Spain at the time so I could see that they didn't.

      People also tend to prefer to watch and listen to things that are from the same culture, not just because of language differences, but because media is mostly used for pleasure. As culture shock makes people uncomfortable we tend not to want to take in things that are too strange. Typically, commercials might not even work across cultural borders, and what passes for humor one place can fall flat in another country. If you do not have anyone nearby to explain the jokes, or explain the background for a trope you are more likely to be alienated than anything else.

      When I watched Spanish texted soaps I rarely understood what the conflicts were about. I didn't get the right clues from the actors, and if I did get them I usually just thought "that's just stupid!". (OK, even more stupid than US soaps.) The science fiction writer Isaac Asimov described this quite well in one of his Elijah Baley stories where the detective is trying to make sense of the values and customs of another planet (I think it was Solaria in The Naked Sun) through popular culture. However, television and media can help you identify cultural differences, as differences stand out more in a caricature. Then you can start working on understanding the reason for the differences and, try to figure out how much things are exaggerated. Obviously media helps spread ideas, but the immaterial culture tends to spread slowly and between partially similar cultures - not jump large gaps.
      (10 votes)
  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user ff142
    As an example of culture lag, what about many modern people's preference for a muscular physique even long after guns etc were invented that made physical brawn less useful than before?
    (0 votes)
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    • starky ultimate style avatar for user ♪♫  Viola  ♫♪
      It's not a culture lag at all (being buff was never a culture, and our preference for being strong is never going away!), BUT it is an example of the effects of human culture on evolution! So, even though some people have a preference for athletic builds, human muscle mass today is much less than when primitive man had to hunt with his bare hands. With the technology that we now have, different traits are selected for. Muscle mass definitely isn't selected for as much as it was long ago.
      (4 votes)
  • mr pants teal style avatar for user ObiWanPEZ
    Were there really no guidelines for who had the right-of-way when automobiles were first invented?
    I think the carriage drivers had it pretty well figured out. The problems arose mostly because people who had not been trained in the ways of driving carriages were suddenly able to drive vehicles. First, the rich, then, as Ford developed the mass-market cars, the "every man."
    (3 votes)
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  • starky tree style avatar for user dnudell248
    In the culture and society video he defined society as tangible things and culture as beliefs or values, yet here we see material culture. whats the difference between the terms?
    (1 vote)
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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] The term "culture lag" refers to the fact that culture takes time to catch up with technological innovations and this results in social problems. Culture lag is common in society because material culture tends to change rapidly, while non-material culture tends to resist change, and really remains the same for a longer period of time. So due to the opposing nature of these two aspects of culture, adaptation of new technology becomes difficult. So just a reminder, material culture refers to the physical and technological aspects of our daily lives, like our food and our houses and our phones, and non-material culture does not include physical objects. Non-material culture includes things like ideas, beliefs, and values, and these tend to resist change. So material culture evolves faster than non-material culture, and that is why they call it "culture lag" because it's lagging behind. So let's look at an example when technological innovation outpaced cultural adaptation. So when cars were first invented, there was no laws to govern driving. There were no speed limits, there were no guidelines for who had the right of way at intersections, there were no lane markers, no stop signs or stop lights. So you can imagine the chaos that was the result of all these lack of rules. So city streets were very dangerous, but laws were soon written to fix the problem, and this closed the gap between the material culture and the non-material culture at the time. So there are many examples of culture lag. Some that come to mind are computers and email, and the time it took for businesses to use this technology effectively. But I encourage you to think about some examples of culture lag. So next, let's look at culture shock. Culture shock refers to the feelings of disorientation, uncertainty, or even fear, that people experience when they encounter unfamiliar cultural practices. So culture shock can happen when someone moves to a different country, moves social environments, or travels to another type of life. Like when maybe you lived in New York City, and you moved to live on a farm in Kansas. So anyone who has lived, studied, or even traveled extensively in another country, has experienced culture shock. So let's look at this a little further. When you go to a different country, everything is unfamiliar. The weather, the landscape, language, the food. Even the values and customs are different. So everything that you are used to is no longer in place. So in this foreign place, business may be conducted differently, stores may open and close at different times, and the food may be completely different. And all of this you're experiencing is culture shock. So as a result of culture shock, you may feel sad, lonely, confused, homesick, and question your decision to even have moved to this new place. So an example would be when people from Islamic countries like Algeria, visit countries in Western Europe like Spain or Italy. So the individuals from the Islamic countries may experience culture shock when they see the women in Western Europe wearing what they would consider to be revealing clothing. And unmarried couples kissing or holding hands in public, because these behaviors are forbidden or frowned upon in their own cultures.