Culture Is The Way Of Living Cultural Studies Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.


Culture is the way of living which a group of people has developed and transmits from one generation to the next. It includes concepts, skills, habits of thinking and acting, arts, institutions, ways of relating to the world, and agreement on what is significant and necessary to know. Race, ethnicity, class, and gender are cultural creations; they derive their meanings from the culture. Culture is always a collective phenomenon, because it is at least partially shared with people who live or lived within the same environment, which is where it was learned. It is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another' (G Hofstede,19910)

Definition of Culture :

"Culture or Civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." (Edward Burnett,1970)

Culture is part of the outside influences which impact the consumer.  Culture represents controls that are forced on the consumer by other individuals.

There have some observations in basis of the definition of culture

Culture is a system of interdependent components Like as a "complex whole".

The important part is knowledge and beliefs .  In the USA people believe that a hard worker and skilled person will get ahead but some others countries may believe that the outcome result will be difference more from luck. 

Some other issues are relevant.  Art, in some countries the random practice of wearing ties may be reflected and wearing turbans in others. 

In Arab country's women are not even allowed to disclose their faces

Ethnocentrism and the self reference criterion : It means the individual tendency , some time unconsciously to use the standards of one's culture to evaluate others. Example , Americans may observe traditional societies to be "backward" and "unmotivated" because they are unable to adopt the new technologies and social customs looking for instead to preserve traditional values.

Ethnocentrism is the propensity to view one's culture to be better to others. 

The Four Important element of culture :



Material production

Symbolic production

Language :

Language is the important element of culture. Regional differences may be subtle.  As a example , one word mean one thing in one Latin American country but something off colour in another . In non verbal communication more and much information is carried. We nod to indicate "yes" and shake our heads to indicate "no;" in other cultures, the practice is inverted in some cultures . According to Usunier, in short," Whorf defends the idea that the language we learn in the community where we born and raised shapes and structure our words-view and our social behaviour," More over Whorf clear the sense that," its influences the way in which we select issue, solve problem and finally act," (The Cultural Process, Jean Claude Usunier, Julie Anne Lee, Fourth edition, Prentice Hall,Page,7.

Within the context of language:

There are often big variations in regional language of a given language.  The differences between U.S., Australian, and British English are really self-effacing compared to differences between dialects of Spanish and German.

Writing patterns, or the socially accepted ways of writing, will differs significantly between cultures. 

Source: (

"In English and Northern European languages, an importance on organization and conciseness. An introduction will often prefigure what is to be said.  In Romance languages such as Spanish, French, and Portuguese, this style is often considered boring and inelegant.  Detours are expected and are considered a sign of class, not of poor organization.  In Asian languages, there is often a great deal of circularity.  Because of concerns about potential loss of face, opinions may not be expressed directly.  Instead, speakers may hint at ideas or indicate what others have said, waiting for feedback from the other speaker before committing to a point of view". (Source,


Usunier, Julie Anne Lee describes that," Institutional elements are the 'spine' of the cultural process,"( The Cultural Process,page,7) here they try to explained that how the institution work to link the people in a group. How it can include the social institution, or any kind of social organization within which the single person has to maintain with rules in exchange for various reward (Usunier, Julie Anne Lee, The Cultural Process,page,7)

Material productions :

comprises all material - physical (food, books, cars, paper) or intangible (knowledge, artistry, service). The lack of concern to adapt the product to a new market can lead to loss in investments. Western refrigerators found very difficult to penetrate in the Japanese market, because the products were very noisy for the typical Japanese house which walls are paper-thin. Another example illustrates the peculiarity of the Japanese market. Procter & Gamble had problems in introducing the disposable diapers because Japanese parents tend to change diapers more often the Americans which create a storage problem: houses are very small and space is a critical issue. When the company started producing thinner diapers, the popularity took the company to the top (Ricks,2006,p21).

The material element are production transit, reproduce, update and continuously attempt to improve the knowledge and skill in the community (Usunier, Julie Anne Lee, The Cultural Process, page,7).Usunier try to make sense and explain that in the international market people are more attractive in Material production than the spiritual world which has a great impact in an international market is a big factor like the other writers.. For example the modern eastern and western countries are trying to use of more technology, high skills labour to reduce their cost as well to be the part of changing world to compete the business in international market. If any industry don't able to consider this concept it is difficult to compete in international market.

Symbolic production :

In the area of marketing communication, symbolic dimension is of the utmost importance. That is, product and their advertising communicate through symbolism of colour, shape, label, brand name and so on, but the interpretation of symbols is strongly cultured bound" (Usunier, Julie Anne Lee, The Cultural Process,1996,page,7).

Source of culture :

Nationality: Usunier considered that,"the national elements is not always the main source of culture when regarded from an 'operational culture' perspective," (Usunier, Julie Anne Lee, The Cultural Process, 1996, page,10,11). For discussing about source of culture in national level its depend how they operate it. Same business strategy planning, and policy should be considered form one country to another country, otherwise it is very difficult to compete in international market.

Education: Education is another important source for cultural consideration in international marketing. Level of education differ the consciousness, awareness according to the ability of socio-economic condition. Different level of education make a different stage about their taste, product cost effectiveness as a consumer.

Profession (Specialized education): Same profession or specialized education in same background has an impact in culture which is factor for international marketing policy. Among the same background level of people has the same identical of life style according to their thinking, belief and concept how they socialised.

Group (ethnicity) sometimes the differentiation in a number of group people depends on their ethnic, religious and from the institutional point of view. International market should consider this cultural factor very sensitively.

Religion: Religion is also one of the most cultural factors in international business market. Muslims are instructed to eat Halal meat. In this perspective if any any busiess organization want to promote any food product in Muslims country, the company must to have consider about Halal food or meat. Otherwise it really difficult to gain the business in international market.

Family: Impact of family value is cultural factor in international marketing. Respect of family head logic and concept usually impact to the other family members. Thats why company should consider family head, education, concept trend, belief, attitude , manner to push any product in that populated area.

Sex: According to masculinity and feminity there is an impact in international business. For product marketing advertisement we always see that women are performing the advertisement as a performer. Because women natural beautifulness easily attract the people to concentrate what they are performing , and for what? That's why it is very important source of market culture in international market.

Social Class: Diffferent type of class like, Upper class, middle class, and lower class with their education level control the market factor for policy making in international market. Different type of social class people's idea, concept and value of life are not same. According to people knowledge, behaviour, style of life have impact on quality of product what they use in everyday. International market have to consider this factor after doing the research of actual static for making business policy for its successful returned.

Although culture is described in parts, in reality, culture is a unit, like a living organism always in a dynamic process of change. For the marketer, it is important to consider all elements of culture when analysing a product which can be directly connected with one of these elements. In a foreign market, it is crucial a previous analysis of the impact of a new product on cultural aspects of this society, preventing from cultural blunders and business failure.

The international marketing strategy is similar to the domestic market (Cateora & Ghauri,1999, p7), but the inexperienced marketer can wrongly assume that the strategy should be identical which can lead him or her to negative outcomes. It is also a common mistake to consider the European market as well as Asian market as a unit and build one only strategy for the whole group. Culturally and linguistically they are internally diverse. If you look closely to each country, the singularity may emerge which can enable marketers to find a more accurate business strategy and, consequently, the route for success. The cultural myopia is an important reason for failure in doing business abroad, because organisations that keeps its structure and strategies static and immutable towards environmental changes are unable to dynamically adapt to new cultures and promote innovation (Fombrun et al,1984).

This myopia is known as Self-Reference Criterion (SRC). It is the reference based on his own personal values and beliefs, ignoring the cultural diversity, when looking at different societies (Rodrigues,2009,p158). An unprepared marketer can base all his marketing strategy on his own cultural reference. A common example is to consider the Chinese culture as representative of the Asian culture, due to the apparent facial similarity ("Asians are all the same!" is an expression usually heard). The same approach can be seen for the African, European or South American countries. A good example is illustrated by an American company advertisement that says "These tortillas are so delicious, they will make you want to dance the tango". Tortilla is a Mexican food, but tango is an Argentinean music (Vincent,2000). The group homogenisation is a common mistake made by marketers trying to reach minority consumers.

The ethnocentric approach treats all markets like home markets, without any adaptation to the foreign market (Usunier,2005,p222). It is a common strategy for countries with similarities in language and culture, but the identification is not perfect. Even when you take the American and British markets as an example, you can be surprised how two close cultures can have different interpretations: Some American medical containers caused trouble when distributed in UK with the instructions "Take off top and push in bottom"; innocuous to American, but with strong sexual connotations to the British (Payne, 2004). Different meaning in language can undermine any business due to cross cultural differences, especially when there is an illusion of similarity that makes marketers inadvertently using the same strategy for different countries.

Managers are likely to fail in international business due to the lack of knowledge about the cultural aspects of the country they are doing business. Globalisation tends to create standardisation of products and services, but the strategy to different markets must be based on a country-by-country basis (Stanley et al,2008) . Otherwise, managers can end up in a complete failure as ignoring local manners. It was the case when an American employee crooked his finger, trying to gather his Korean boss' attention to get him closer. The American completely ignored the rigid social structure, using an informal and considered rude gesture in Korea. Another example is the Spanish businesswoman in a Saudi Arabia meeting: the Saudi police, noticing the woman in her miniskirts, shipped the whole delegation back to Spain. Reason: women in Saudi Arabia cannot show their bare legs (Ricks,2006,p104).

Communication problems, including non verbal, can also undermine business overseas. In USA, it is common the OK sign gesture that can be interpreted as zero in France, as money in Japan, but it has a vulgar connotation in Brazil (Glover,1990). However, these cultural blunders are not restricted to individuals. Even corporations make mistakes, due to the lack of an in-depth research in the market they are targeting. Toyota had problems with its successful MR2 in France, because it was pronounced "merde" that means human waste. Ford launched "Pinto" in Brazil, but had to change it soon: in Brazil, the name is a Portuguese slang for penis. Non-English speaking countries' companies would also have difficulties to enter in the USA or UK. Some product names, such as Swine (Chinese chocolate), Ass Glue (Chinese glue), Sea Cucumber (Chinese shirts), Skinababe (Japanese baby powder) and Polio (Czech laundry detergent) are likely to have very low sale figures (Ricks,2006,p42).

Probably because the standard business language is English, British and American are the most known businesspeople that ignore the cross cultural approach (Hilpern,1998). The assertive attitude in the international situation can create misunderstandings that interfere in the business process. In a negotiation, the silence has a different meaning for Japanese and American people. To the former, it might be the time to reflect and make the decision; on the other hand, Americans can assume the client is waiting for better offers (Valentine,1998).

In international marketing, adaptation is the key concept to prevent from a cultural myopia. It means that marketers should accept with tolerance alien cultures, remaining themselves while developing an understanding that differences exist and must be considered (Cateora & Ghauri,1999, p126). The self-reference criterion cannot be eliminated but being aware of it allows marketers to conduct more positively in cross cultural environment.

Expatriates failures are highly rated because of the ineffective HR Planning, inadequate selection criteria for foreign assignment, failure to consider the family as an important factor, lack of training and time of expatriation process (Rodrigues,2009,p260). An adequate preparation in the target country is vital in order to broaden the awareness of differences in terms of language, customs and way of doing business. Due to the fact that marketing programmes have many similarities around the world, the illusion of sameness is easily adopted which can lead to a marketing failure (Cateora & Ghauri,1999, p15).

Even though globalisation is a tendency that looks irreversible, imposing standardisation of products in the global market, adaptation or customisation of products and services are necessary to meet cultural differences that are expressed in taste, values, customs and aesthetics aspects of each country. Internal cultural differences of a nation must also be respected to respond to consumer's demands. Cross cultural sensitivity is an essential issue in international trade, because once managers are dealing with diversified nationalities businessmen, the good communication is imperative for business success. It implies that managers in the global context should be aware of the self-reference criterion and be diligent, doing a previous market and cultural researches before starting the international business.

Some characteristics of good skilled marketers for the international business are: tolerance to ambiguity, flexibility in defining the strategy, good multicultural communication skills, willingness to learn about new cultures, respect for otherness and empathy (Tomalin & Nicks,2008). The key to succeed in international business depends more on the ability to interact positively in a multicultural environment than on the strategic business skills. Competency is synonym of sensitivity in dealing with cultural differences.

By focusing on two similar but distinctly different culture targets, one may gain insight in to the culture dimension of these and others remarkable peoples in the region . Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia are part of the Arab world , but Egypt originates from an ancient civilization and moral liberal, where Soudia Arabia is a traditional nation created in the last country , propelled by vast oil discoveries .

A common language does not guarantee a similar interpretation of even a word or phrase . both the british and American speak English, but their culture are sufficiently different that a single phrase has different meanings to each and can even be completely misunderstood. In England one asks to be directed to left instead of an elevator, and an American


Dealing with culture.  Culture is a problematic issue for many marketers since it is inherently nebulous and often difficult to understand.  One may violate the cultural norms of another country without being informed of this, and people from different cultures may feel uncomfortable in each other's presence without knowing exactly why (for example, two speakers may unconsciously continue to attempt to adjust to reach an incompatible preferred interpersonal distance).