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Influencing Factors of Culture Differences

Popularity 4Viewed 1812 times 2015-11-30 22:55 |Personal category:Opinion|System category:Others| culture, communication


When we think of culture, no one will deny that there are definitely differences among cultures. As long as getting into a new environment, for example from China to the USA or to the Middle East, the newcomer, even with the least consciousness of cultural studies, can easily and immediately feel the culture shock overwhelmingly knocking on him/her. 

But, the key point is, what leads to cultural differences and what can account for it? 

In Plato’s Cave, the “shadows”, which is recognized as “reality” by prisoners inside, will be influenced by a large amount of factors, such as the size of the cave, the temperature and humidity level in the cave, the color of the cave wall, the height of the roadway wall, the brightness and color of the burning fire, the location and sequence of the prisoners, the distance between prisoners and the cave wall, the angles of all these elements, and so on. Considering that all these factors make concerted efforts to form the “shadows” finally projected on the cave wall, an extremely small deviation at the beginning is very likely to bring about a total difference in the end, just like the Butterfly Effect. Therefore, in any two caves with minor differences, even if same things happen on the roadway at exactly the same time, the “shadows” on the cave wall can hardly be the same, not to mention the huge diversities and complexities from cave to cave in reality.

Things perform the same way when Plato’s Cave is replaced by what we call the Culture Cave. Communications among Culture Caves resemble the “shadows” viewed by prisoners in various Plato’s caves, which provides a unique perspective of understanding cultural difference.

Culture is a broad concept involving all common patterns of perceiving and interpreting “shadows” on wall of culture caves. Naturally, there are a number of factors affecting the form of those patterns hence codetermining what a culture is like and how it differs from the others.

Natural factors, such as geographical location and climate condition, are usually the most basic ones put into consideration in building a culture. They play the same roles of the factors that influence the shadows of Plato’s cave, such as the size, height and temperature. Take China and Portugal, as an example, to compare. As a typical country of River Civilization, thanks to the fertile soil and abundant natural resources along the river, China acquires a culture of collectivism, that is, being conservative, peace-loving, safety-pursuing but lack of innovation and adventurous spirits. On the other hand, Portugal, as one of the most representative countries of Maritime Civilization, lacking lands and natural resources but possessing the convenience to sea trade, develops the cultural characteristics of being individualistic, open-minded, tend-to-expansion, creative and money-pursuing. From this example we see that geographical factor contributes a lot when it comes to culture issues.

In addition to what has been mentioned above, population structures, political institutions, languages, religions and many other factors all can influence the appearance of a culture. It is those influencing factors as a whole that form a complex system leading to a culture’s development and evolution.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (4 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2015-12-1 10:44
Thanks for sharing your story here. We have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report Yuannn 2015-12-1 14:22
voice_cd: Thanks for sharing your story here. We have highlighted your blog.
thanks :p
Reply Report Dracarys 2015-12-1 20:32
first is respect then go along with it .. when someone misunderstand it try to explain it to them and make them understand
Reply Report Yuannn 2015-12-2 10:36
Dracarys: first is respect then go along with it .. when someone misunderstand it try to explain it to them and make them understand
yes that's right. But as far as I am concerned, cultural difference is inevitable, so what we need to keep in mind is putting ourselves in other‘s shoes, to understand, to respect.

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