Culture entails operating in the social group where an individual or a group of people lives in. It means sharing the same beliefs, arts, practices and other things that bring people together. I grew up in the Northeastern part of the country. This is in Manhattan, New York. We were, and are still referred to as the urbanites. This is mainly due to the urban life of Manhattan. Moreover, New York is a top financial centre of the world. The region has diverse people from all over the world. This creates subcultures in the main culture.
Ethocentricism has been part of the society I have grown up in. The idea that all people should live the same way may sooner or later result into the phenomenon of culture shock. This usually occurs when we start to interact with other nations. Culture shock can be the difficulty to accept some facts which are normal for others. For example, we could not understand how the Asians loved to live in such large families. In other scenarios, we could not understand how the people in the Muslim religion treated their women different from the men. In fact, we became so judgmental when it came to such matters.
As society changed, the perceptions towards the various cultures changed. As identified, Manhattan is a place full of diversity. Population growth, technological influence and other issues forced the change. However, there are norms, morales, symbols and values that people associated themselves with. Additionally, they underwent adaptation, reformulation and diffusion whenever relevant. Like any other society, societal classes are a normal occurrence. There are those people that are seen as from the other sides of the tracks. This means that classifying a person in accordance to the wealth is a natural. Furthermore, this was also present in the schools. Seeing a woman reprimand her child because he/she was playing with a child who wore clothes that were considered as gangster clothes was a norm.
Some other norms were positive. It was the communitys norm to get together to enjoy a festive event despite the subcultural background of an individual. Main events such as Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July were celebrated across cultures. It was time to be jovial and share whatever little that was there. This was the same scenario in the Christmas season even if some cultures did not believe in this, especially those that were not Christians. The values of our culture were quite evident. Respect, honesty and courtesy were upheld by all, despite cultural backgrounds. However, it was hard to find people who could extend a kind gesture to another. The reason for this was the harsh city life which was full of people who are ill-minded. Nevertheless, people went ahead and extended a welcoming smile to a new neighbor although people were mostly preoccupied with their lives.
As indicated, the harsh life in the Manhattan city has made people to be more critical of others. They do not trust anymore and it has made them come across as rude, unkind or inconsiderate. For example, people started to accept homosexuality in Manhattan long before they could even speak about it in other areas in the U.S. This may be the reason why people around the U.S are eager to visit Manhattan. It is an area full of liberals.
The symbols in our culture became universal all over the world. The use of the index and middle fingers while folding the other fingers means peace. The use of the thumb finger while folding the other fingers indicates that things are good. The joining of the thumb and index fingers to shape O also shows that things are okay.
Since Manhattan is full of diverse cultures from all over the world, the people have to go through adaptation. The main culture is adopted from other subcultures. For example, there is no single dominant religion. However, the people are religious. People have come to accept one religion they are comfortable with and adapted it as a lifestyle. Diffusion has also taken place. Some cultures or practices have been diffused in others. For example, there were many Asians living in my community. As a result, some of their practices were diffused in the main culture. Asian cusines from China and Japan became part of the exquisite delicacies in the area. The frequent festivities carried out by the Indians were among some of the events the rest of the people would join in. Occasionally, there would be local art show where various art pieces from the various subcultures were displayed.
Reformulation was another part of the cultural change. Some cultural practices have undergone reforms. When I was growing up, my Indian friends Indian told me that the girls waited to be asked for a hand in marriage. However, they are the ones who paid the dowry or bride price. This practice is slowly being disregarded for people living in Manhattan. The girls are slowly being allowed to choose their own husbands. Technology has greatly influenced the cultural practices. People prefer to use their mobile phones to check on others rather than paying house visits. The Internet, including the social media, seems to consume a lot of time, children started to play computer games more and engage themselves in sports activities less. Liberalism and promoting the free spirit has also encouraged people to embrace change.