Cultural Meaning

1520 Words Aug 16th, 2007 7 Pages

The meaning humans give to actions, concepts and behaviours is dependent on the cultural milieu and is conditioned to a great extent by the underlying meaning systems, values and frames of meaning he/she inherites from the society in general. Socialization plays a direct role in that process. Education, effects of peers and the intellectual atmosphere all contribute to what is called cultural meaning or systems of meaning. Cultural meaning conditions our perception and determines the way we process external perceptions. In this sense, what Gregory Bateson calls "an ecology of mind" is at work here. The mind acts in an ecology of preceding concepts, comments and semantic networks operating in a particular field and in
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The term "Indian giver" is one such example. A network of meanings developed through centuries of experience emerges as cultural meaning. It becomes a culture's core over time and forms the basis also of other attitudes. Western culture makes one think there are indeed too many bananas, whereas in New Guinea there can not be too many bananas at all.

Another cultural phenomenon seen through the different lenses of various cultures is leadership. Leadership is also loaded with cultural meanings and values. In general, eastern cultures are said to put much emphasis on social harmony and collective action. Respect to elders, family ties are given importance in these cultures. Leaders in these cultures are expected to be humble, caring and considerate thinking about the well-being of their followers. In this sense, they are seen as somewhat paternalistic figures. They are required to show mercy and understanding towards inferiors, to care for the problems of those they lead. Whereas, in western culture a competitive society is preferred and leaders are thought to be assertive, highly competitive and efficient decision makers. Humane considerations do not seem to play great role in this scheme. Efficiency and beneficial results matter more than paternalistic protection of subordinates. So, one who is accepted in the West as a good leader may be perceived as a ruthless go-getter obsessed with his egotistic views in the East. Cultural meaning acquired through