Responses To Culture And Religion Cultural Studies Essay

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This difference between the positive and negative responses towards the people of other cultures affects the global communication and interaction crucially. The cultural gap between people makes it impossible for them sometimes to void their disgust for one another. Religion is one main issue that inflames the already burning fire.

The prohibited objects in one's religion make him unable to befriend the people from the religions which allow them to use those object freely. The difference between the Islamic and Hindu culture makes the difference more obvious and results often into violent reactions between these respective groups. Islam prohibits alcohol and anything that causes dizziness to senses whereas in Hinduism sacred 'parasaad' is made by using opium. Hindus worship cows whereas Muslims eat the dishes made with its meat hungrily. Similarly, pork is prohibited in Islam whereas it is not in Christianity and Hinduism. Muslims believe in One God and His Prophet Muhammad; Christians believe in Holy Trinity; and Hindus believe in thousands of idols, each serve for some different service.

The code of conduct, the code of dress, the cultural values, and the ways of behaving to the elder…everything alters with the religion. For example, the Muslim children are not allowed to address the parents by their names, they have to use certain specific greetings for them (e.g., 'abi' for father in Arabic); whereas this is not a case in Christian cultures. Similarly the younger ones in Islam observe the same for their elders. The overall covering of the body projected in Islam negates the dresses of Hindu culture where abdomen is usually left bare. They even do not think it right for the females to wear pants as these will made the shape of their bodies prominent. Their ladies usually observe veil 'abaya' that is looked down upon by most of the Christians today.

Thus when the people of these different religions come face to face in these matters, conflicts arise and often lead to the violent endings. None of them seems ready to tolerate others' terms. The difficulty of this situation can be well assumed in a dinner party where the people belonging to these widely different cultures and religions are to be gathered to dine together. Obviously the host will have to go into extreme trouble to, at least, entitle the separate serving table for each cultural and religious tag on it.


The present political situation of the world is not much helpful in this regard. The people from different cultures have always detested each other. The world had always remained under war due to some cultural and religious conflict. The situation is not much better even nowadays. People and the countries fight on the name of their religions. Christians call these fights as 'Crusades' whereas Muslims call them 'Jihad'.

The politics of a country is usually scrutinized by the global critics under the impact of their own cultures. The cultural values also affect the role of the leader and the followers. In most of the Eastern countries, there is still a concept of 'Ameer' who is said to be the sole benefactor of his peoples. The Eastern states have Princes who take hold of the entire administrative machinery of the state, and nothing should go against their permission. This, however, is negated by the Western culture as monarchy and authoritativeness as Western liberal minds follow the democracy. Thus, the conflicting interaction arises when a democratic critic starts interacting with someone belonging to these Eastern followers of Princes and 'Ameers'. Each of them accept accepts his culture, and the impression of the other makes him feel negative emotions only.


Culture of a man shapes his social values and customs. The limits and boundaries of a specific culture establish the lines of social practices. According to Graham, a man's way of living sets his cultural norms (1995: p. 56). Culture is fashioned and twisted through how that someone lives in framework of society and societal activities.

However, still one grows older with one's culture. He learns it from his surroundings, knows what is acceptable and what is wrong. As pointed out by Tracy Novinger, "…during all of the waking hours that we spend with other human beings we "speak" volumes through the behaviour our culture has drilled into us" (2008; p. 1). She had pointed out towards the cultural barriers that affect the understanding between the people more than mere linguistic gaps. She emphasised that "… they frequently provoke reactions that are both negative and emotional. What is considerate behaviour in one country may be rude in another. What is a sensitive issue to one culture, to another may not be a point of any consequence. Therefore, we really need to learn to "speak" the culture" (2008: p. 3). These differences make it impossible for one community to comprehend the individuals of other societies.

The success of an interaction depends upon individuals' behaviour towards each other. However, this further emphasizes the importance of one's culture as one learns from one's own bearing through culture. Thus, through inter-cultural interaction, people infuse each others' norms through accepting their respective behaviours. Novinger had further pointed out that "We rarely take note of what we consider "normal" behaviour. It is behaviour that deviates from our own cultural rules that captures our conscious attention" (ibid.). The situations gets worse by the fact that everyone seems to consider his own culture as the most civilized and evolved and that of the other individual as less developed. These feelings cause irritation and impatience with foreign ways of behaviours and the conflicts start arousing.

Novinger further elaborates upon the effects of culture upon one's social bearing by calling it a 'stern taskmaster" that teaches one "when to speak up and when to keep quiet… that some facial expressions meet with approval and others provoke a reprimand…which gestures are acceptable and which are not, and whether we can publicly unwrap a gift… where to put our hands during a meal, whether or not we can make noise with our mouths when we eat, which table utensils to use or not use, and in what fashion we may use them… how to address people in a manner approved by our culture, what tone of voice to employ, what posture is censored and what is praised, when and how to make eye contact and for how long, and countless other things that would be impossible to remember consciously and use all at the same time when interacting socially." (ibid.) thus, when one comes across a group of people who do not think as he thinks, who do not respond to things as he does and who do not behave as he does, the conflicts start (Graham, 1995). The most confusing thoughts arise when the stranger group does something that arouses unenthusiastic and negative thoughts in one's mind. Inter-cultural communication starts with this sort of conflicts. People from different cultures meet, respond negatively towards each other, come saner of these wonder about the reasons of differences and the wiser ones accept them and respect them (Uncapher, 1992).

The behavioural differences are the chief reasons of conflicts between the people of different cultures. The differences between the acceptability of the greetings, the way of talking, eating, even walking shows enormous differences between various socially different cultures that make it impossible for the strict and limited individual to accept the differences easily.


The actual transformation in the global communication occurred with the invention and development of the newer digital technology. It has brought people nearer and made inter-cultural communication possible that would have been impossible in other circumstances. This nearness has exposed man to a variety of cultures around the world and has made one able to understand the reactions and behaviours of different people under the impression of their respective cultures. Mead further elaborates that the ever increasing bondage through TV and radio media has enhanced impersonal communication whereas computer and internet has made it possible for the people to learn about each other more personally and intimately. It has also changes another aspect of the transfer of culture as it is not conveyed from older to younger generations nowadays more than younger to older ones. The kids surfing and chatting on the internet knows more about people of other nations than their elders, and thus they are less sceptical about the differences between colours of their skins and the tones of their voices (Graham, 1995).

Culture is changing due to this media exposure. The global interaction on personal and country levels is enhancing and supporting this change. They are becoming to know, accept and even adopt each other's culture to some extent. As Jones pointed out, these youngsters need to know each other as they "…owe something to each other. While not bound by formal, written agreements, people nevertheless are required by to observe certain amenities because they serve the greater interest of the net" (1991: p. 4). However this tendency is more common among youngsters than among elders.

There are so many critics such as Appadurai, who claim that this global mass culture is erasing individual distinctions and causing monotony. These critics recommend that certain communities should be isolated so that to preserve the uniqueness of the respective cultures (1990). They reject the idea that culture is dynamic and to freeze it means to stop its growth. Uncapher criticises these points of views for not understanding the power of new technologies and ignoring the miracles that the cooperative and contributive alliance can make to the global cultures.


Inter-cultural trade had always been very profitable. Eastern products holds attraction to Western people as does the Western things for the Eastern individuals. This attraction between the opposites usually proves very lucrative.

The ancient voyages through the Eastern states had always held charm for Western minds. Eastern spices, metals, fabric, colours…held such an exotic appeal for the European people that they had paid for them hugely in the past. The modern trends had not minimized this attraction in any sense. Even the globalization had not been able to nullify the importance of the aspect of worldwide sale of one's products. However, cultural differences affect and modify the sale strategies a lot. One cannot sale everything in another culture without making people raise their eyebrows. They have to make certain amendments and changes according to the social and cultural requirements of the particular society.

Once a company plans to introduce its products in another country, it's very first step is to analyze the culture and society of that country. The introduction of wine publically in an Eastern country can cause the company not only a loss of huge share, but also it will make it liable to lawful ban form the authorities. Similarly, the introduction of socially inacceptable dresses will cause unease and criticism from the foreign society with a tag of failure on the name of the company. That is why Hollen has made social attributes a large factor that affects internationally entry-mode decisions that is quite explicit from his foreign market entry mode model:

Factors affecting foreign market entry mode decision (Hollen, 2007: 298)

The Dutch anthropologist, Geert Hofstede, has developed theories of cross-cultural communication to relate the international business trends. He has commenced interviews with various internationally known business figures and put down five popular dimensions that can resolve the cultural gap for cost-effective business.

His five dimensions include:

Individualism/Collectivism: Hofstede had emphasized the need of recognition of people as individual groups of people so that one can easily find out their limitations and acceptances.

Uncertainty Avoidance: This factor makes people less prone to accept surprises. Its low level will make them accept the newness readily.

Power Distance: hierarchy or chain of command is a feature that is relatively more taken care of in some cultures. In such areas, some people are more respected and are more powerful than others. Therefore, by taking the help and acceptance of the more respected and the more powerful, one can gain immediate success in a foreign environment.

Aggressiveness: usually women are taken as gentler and vulnerable beings in most of the societies and the men are taken at more aggressive side. Women are considered as someone who will value gentleness and consensus more. Therefore, the company can win their immediate favour by keeping in view the trends of particular society genders.

Long Term/Short Term Orientation: the orientation of the respective cultures whether is long term or short term can be determined beforehand to avoid any huge loss.

According to Hofstede, these five dimensions can prove to be of greater help in cross-cultural trade and business. The resist to stereotype is the greatest tip of the century. Hofstede had criticised the stereotyped images of the societies as too much static. They cannot actually predict people's response and behaviour towards a particular product. However, one can look into usual trends and tendencies to make the chances of success more vivid.


The culture is an effective entity that shapes the trends, tendencies and behaviours of particular groups of people. These behaviours and responses make these people different and distinct from other groups of people. The basis of these differences lies chiefly upon the cultural differences of these people. This term 'culture' covers their ways of thinking, feeling and behaving towards different stimulus. People from different culture find it difficult to accept the terms of others who are different from them. These differences, sometimes, reach to such an extent that they end up in violent reactions. The feelings of negativity and hyper-emotionality make these people opposite to each other. These negative feelings are further heightened by their religious and social differences. All these opposite responses affect their trade and business more. The cultural differences make it impossible for the people of a foreign culture to accept one introduced product as it is. Therefore, Hofstede and other scholars, like Hollen and Jones, believe that an organization should make the lucrative business possible by the acceptance of foreign rules, cultures and regulations. Moreover, the consideration of the norms of particular cultural norm can also prove helpful.

Therefore the researcher believes that Wal-Mart can do successful business if it takes into consideration the five-dimension prism offered by Hofstede. He also believes that the acceptance of a foreign culture will only add variation into the company's trendy services, and will bring newness of ideas. The company can utilize these exotic ideas further into local markets to introduce new trends. Above all, it will minimize the resistance against the foreign tag to its name in foreign cultures.