Internal and External Elements of a Culture

This graphic represents a “cultural iceberg”, a model developed based on anthropologist Edward T. Hall’s theory of culture. Imagine that this iceberg represents our culture(s) – there are “surface” or external cultural elements that we regularly put on display (about 10%), and there are cultural elements that are more internal and sometime subconscious. Elements of ourselves that belong to deep culture are not always obvious, even to us.

Respond to the following questions bringing in sociological terms from the module materials.

-Discuss both external and internal elements of your culture(s) using this model as a guide (you can bring in 2-3 examples for each).
-Further reflecting on this model, provide an example of real and ideal culture from your culture(s).
-How does this model help us approach and engage with cultures that are different from ours?






Internal and External Elements of a Culture

Culture is a set of values, principles and rules that govern a group of people to maintain order, peace, and harmony in the communities. Traditional, two cultural elements make up a culture. Often, more pronounced values oversee the people’s day-to-day lives while deeper values augment a firm foundation for the values and principles guiding the community.  In modern contemporary times, it is evident that communities have embraced more profound values, principles. For instance, there is a growing spectrum in gender sexuality that has elicited a lot of controversies. The highly-publicized trends such as my dress my choice have granted people freedom to express themselves through their dressing regardless of the physical characteristics.

Similarly, there has been a paradigm shift in the internal elements of a culture. These changes have been characterized by the rapid, drastic rise in social media and the internet.  For decades people did not express or share their musical preferences, family traditions, talents, religious practices. They were either coerced or manipulated to abide by the practices (Earley, Christopher and Soon, 2). However, with the advent of the internet, people have embraced honesty and transparency and are vocal on the most flawed topics to educate and inform others.

Today a significant percentage of the population subscribe to a certain culture. For example, it is culturally acceptable to marry someone of the same gender in the United States.  People have the freedom to explore their sexuality marry who they chose regardless of their gender.

According to the Edward T. Hall theory of culture, it is important to learn and understand the internal and external culture before engaging different communities. This approach allows one to determine the core aspects of the community and establish which areas are restricted.

Works Cited

Earley, P. Christopher, and Soon Ang. “Cultural intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures.” (2003).

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