Culture is a multi-format concept that includes any elements of a person’s daily life. It is intertwined with personality traits that shape values and worldviews. Cultural stereotypes cover the assessment of ethnic and religious characteristics as the only markers that form a particular group’s vision. However, this essay will promote the view that a person is part of various communities, each with specific preferences in behavior, music, hobbies, and other daily activities. My cultural constructs are based on pop music, modern-day technology, and the Kwanzaa celebration as a tribute to my ancestors. These characteristics explain ordinary behavior, communication strategies with people, particular representation in society, and pastimes in addition to necessary actions.
Culture includes food, religion, language, ethnicity, habits, hobbies, and numerous other aspects that form one’s identity. Besides, it is a way of self-identification in which people accept those communities that correspond to their values, interests, and preferences. As noted earlier, the stereotype that religion and nationality are the only decisive factors in social belonging is flawed. The individual independently evaluates personal requirements for behavior patterns and personality, which allows for the necessary variation in thinking (Rivas, Burke, and Hale 2019, 694). Consequently, the concept of culture covers any psychological, behavioral, and social patterns that a human prefers.
I belong to the pop music community, and it shapes my daily behavior. It covers my leisure time and is a hobby, as I am involved in monitoring the latest releases and analyzing the lyrics and messages that artists bring to the audience. My preference can be characterized by stan, which means a particular admiration for specific performers. I consider it a cultural identity, as their lyrics, arguments in interviews, and social activities create the behavioral patterns that I use to communicate with family and friends. Besides, I associate myself with a community of people who are used to utilizing modern technology daily. For example, online maps for guiding, banking, digital music, voice messaging, and many other tools shape my decision-making strategies. It can be called a nerd since these people are technologically enlightened and cannot imagine their life without it. Moreover, a fascination with pop culture and technology influences the paradigm of choice of social circles. I prefer to connect with people who share these values, art genres, social habits, and cognitive constructs. Consequently, community transformation takes place by adapting the environment to my requirements and choices.
I am one of the people who celebrate Kwanzaa as well as Christmas. It is a tribute to African Americans and our values. Every year, my family and I come together to honor our historical traditions and remind each other that we must be kind to others. I can be called a highbrow, namely a person engrossed in cultural studies and following ethnic traditions. It is not fundamentally a religious holiday, but rather an occasion to remind others that morality and ethics should remain the main features of society, regardless of the community. I believe it is a cultural characteristic, as I form the habit of celebrating Kwanzaa based on ethnic traditions.
Each person has unique preferences for daily activities, leisure activities, gastronomy, and other life aspects. I characterize myself as a fan of pop culture and technology and the one who celebrates Kwanzaa as our ancestors’ memory. These values shape my everyday vision and philosophy regarding communication with other people, self-identification, and further individual growth. Thus, culture is a complex structure that includes any social, religious, and ethnic patterns people want to have in their lives.
Rivas, Julia, Monica Burke, and Katherine Hale. 2019. “Seeking a Sense of Belonging: Social and Cultural Integration of International Students with American College Students.” Journal of International Students 9 (2): 687-703.
“Silencing The Past: Power And The Production Of History” By Trouillot
The key argument that Michel-Rolph Trouillot sets forward in Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History is that history in itself is created by historians, while reality is what is produced by events and processes. History represents the human narration of reality that is viewed subjectively from the perspective of an individual who is compiling written accounts of specific events. In the author’s opinion, an honest and serious historian is the one who tells history as close to the real-life data as possible to ensure that the records that are left reflect the reality of events. However, Trouillot argues that much of the past, even such that is preserved accurately in historical records, gets “silenced” and pushed aside as insignificant or not valuable.
Troillot provides four important points that support his argument about history being silenced. First, silencing occurs when sources are being made since not every event gets remembered to be recorded. Thus, there is a difference between the events that are remembered and described to transcend the present and those that are inevitably silenced. Second, silencing exists when archives are being created. Historians make active choices, make mistakes, and have their biases, which means that some parts of reality are silenced. Third, narrators purposefully silence history because of having the ability to make choices of some events over others, which leads to significant archival points being omitted. Fourth, there is a “corpus” that represents a commonly-accepted narrative that limits the inclusion of some events because of the difference of opinions between various groups. Only a certain set of past events gets transformed into history.
As an illustration of the points of support of the argument, Troillot delves deep into the examples of the history of Columbus and related narratives, which become intertwined into the general thesis of the book of history being changed and produced. The example of Columbus’s discovery is an illustration of how the standard historic narrative differs from reality. Troillot writes, “to call “discovery” the first invasion of inhabited lands by Europeans is an exercise of Eurocentric power that already frames future narratives of the event so described. […] Once discovered by Europeans, the Other finally enters the human world” (Troillot 1995, 114). The author shows that the power that historians have to decide how events will be framed within the historic narrative silences the past, desensitizing the target audience to the damaging acts committed by their ancestors under the guise of discovery rather than a conquest.
The arguments and the examples that Troillot provides in Silencing the Past allow for developing the argument about the nature of historical writing and the narratives that are embedded into it. It is important to understand that history will never be perfect, but caution should be used when it comes to history as telling the past. The impact of different points of view, choices, and selective thinking will make history separate from the past. What is notable is that Troillot does not criticize historians per se but rather points out that it is human nature to make conscious and unconscious decisions on how history should be presented. Therefore, history should be used to shape current views and ideologies rather than perceived as the one and only tool of retelling the past.
Troillot, Michel-Rolph. 1995. Silencing the Past: Power and Production of History. Boston: Beacon Press.
The International Business Expansion
The Middle Eastern business culture is substantially different from the Western conception, which can complicate the adoption of an American approach. Per Browaeys and Price (2019), it is heavily centered on family, with a large share of MENA enterprises owned and operated by them, and reputation, which takes precedence over profit. As such, a Middle Eastern businessman may decline a profitable deal because they dislike the other person or thing that they could harm the family’s reputation. The preferred management style is typically authoritarian, with the family’s patriarch holding most of the power. Mohamed Nour (2016) claims that Middle Eastern countries mostly qualify as low and middle-income, with some high-income ones. The reason is resource scarcity, with wealthier nations differentiated by their abundant supplies of oil and gas.
The business culture of the Middle East conflicts with the American approach in terms of pragmatism and leadership style. Businesses may not be open to making deals with a newcomer to the market, especially one without a Middle Eastern background. With few shared values, they may prefer to forgo the partnership in favor of one with a local business. Another potential problem is the identity of the leader, which is substantially more fluid in American culture. Middle Eastern workers and businessmen may be much less amenable to younger or female leaders, even if they are highly competent. The discord may lead to disruptions and insubordination and should be avoided.
Japan is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, being well-established in the high-income category. As Alston and Takei (2018) describe, its business culture is focused on work, which is seen as central to the person, and harmony, wherein managers seek to achieve consensus among subordinates instead of passing top-down decisions. As a result, changes are implemented smoothly but may take a long time to manifest while the management is occupied trying to convince workers. Previously, Japan also had a culture of promotions based on seniority rather than competence, but it has been abandoned in recent times. It has proven to be inadequate at producing companies that can compete effectively on the international market due to the abundance of overpromoted managers.
The focus on harmony may conflict with American leadership, where decisions are made by managers and imposed on subordinates. Japanese workers may be less inclined to follow such an approach and resist it if it is used by a foreign leader. However, the Japanese approach to profit, which considers it a secondary result, may be helpful in its implementation. Wages in Japan do not match its economic status, and workers have been expressing concern over this disparity that favors the company over the individual (Alston & Takei, 2018). As a result, a Western-style company that offers pay proportional to performance may be attractive to such people and draw them in regardless of the differences.
Latin American businesses are more loosely organized than Middle Eastern ones, but they are still substantially different from their North American counterparts. Storti (2017) claims that it is highly hierarchical, with most workers expecting continuous oversight from a manager, even if it is unnecessary, and preferring to know less to avoid the responsibility of decision-making. Workers prefer not to act on their own to avoid being held accountable for their actions and expect the manager to agree to every step so that the matter can be then traced to them. Hess (2016) places Latin American countries in the lower- to upper-middle-income bracket, though Argentina and Chile are high-income. As such, there is a broad range of nations and their wealth in the region.
The lack of autonomy on the part of Latin American employees may be problematic when the American management style is applied with its low power distance. With that said, these workers can be taught to require less oversight and take actions under their initiative. Storti (2017) recommends delegating responsibilities and being as straightforward as possible about the practice to avoid situations where it is unclear to the worker with whom the decision lies. Over time, as the manager starts overseeing the workers often but reduces the frequency gradually, Latin American workers should be able to begin adhering to American standards. As such, the adaptation should not be overly challenging, particularly compared to the other two regions discussed.
In the Middle East, the author would choose the UAE, as it is a wealthy nation that houses numerous foreign companies. As a result, the issues listed in the section do not necessarily apply to the same degree. The author would proceed with the expansion into Japan, as it should not be particularly challenging to adapt to its culture. Lastly, among the Latin American nations, the author would choose to expand into Brazil. Due to its population size, it is a potentially attractive market, and the overall situation in the region is amenable to expansion. Overall, each of these three nations presents an attractive expansion opportunity, and the business plan should proceed.
Alston, J. P., & Takei, I. (2018). Japanese business culture and practices: A guide to twenty-first century Japanese business protocols. iUniverse.
Browaeys, M. J., & Price, R. (2019). Understanding cross-cultural management (4th ed.). Pearson Education Limited.
Hess, P. N. (2016). Economic growth and sustainable development. Taylor & Francis.
Mohamed Nour, S. (2016). Economic systems of innovation in the Arab region. Palgrave Macmillan US.
Storti, C. (2017). The art of doing business across cultures: 10 countries, 50 mistakes, and 5 steps to cultural competence. John Murray Press.