Cultural identities can stem from the following differences: race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, country of origin, and geographic region.

Ethnic Studies Course Terms & Concepts:

Cultural identities can stem from the following differences: race, ethnicity, gender, class,
religion, country of origin, and geographic region.

1. Frame of Reference is the context, viewpoint, or set of cultural beliefs or understanding
that we base our view of the world on. People interpret information or make sense of
things based on their values, beliefs and past experiences
2. Culture – a group which shapes a person’s values and identity. It is any patterned set of
behaviors, knowledge, values, beliefs, experiences and traditions shared by a particular
group of people.
3. Cultural identities can stem from the following differences: race, ethnicity, gender, class,
religion, country of origin, and geographic region. Culture is not genetic; it is transmitted
by communicating symbols.
4. Values – group’s deeply held beliefs that are expressed in their day to day behaviors
5. Cultural beliefs are the commonly held norms and moral standards of a culture, the
standards of right and wrong that set expectations for behavior. These beliefs are usually
rooted in the culture’s symbolic inheritance and include the roles that are appropriate for
particular persons
6. Norms are the rules and expectations of conduct in a group that prescribes or forbids the
conduct of the members of the group.
7. Cultural Assumptions are beliefs about the internal workings and external environment of
a group which, having worked well in the past, have gradually come to be taken for
granted, and which provide the basis for group understanding and consensus about
common events and circumstances.
8. Mores are the fundamental values of a group and are considered essential to the welfare
of all members of a society. Mores are usually the unwritten code of conduct of a group
that ensures the survival of that group. Mores determine the norms for individual
behavior. Violating a more is a serious offense, usually punishable in that society. In
highly organized societies like the United States, most mores are formally written into
laws, examples include laws for murder, incest, child molestation, theft, etc.
9. Ethnic groups- a group of people who identify with one another or are identified by
others based on specific cultural characteristics like race, religion, language, economic
level-share common cultural norms, values, identified patterns of behavior, and language.
10. Geocentric refers to the Earth or your geographic position as the center of human
11. Egocentric refers to the inability to understand, “see” and/or accept different opinions,
beliefs, and values because it does not support our thinking. Viewing the world from an
individual perspective without considering other individuals, groups, or societies way of
12. Cultural Context refers to the thoughts and feelings we have about a situation based upon
who we are and our cultural background.
13. Cultural Conflict – when a person acts according to the values and norms of his or her
culture; another person holding a different worldview might interpret his or her behavior
from an opposite standpoint. This situation creates misunderstanding and can lead to
14. Cultural Shock – is the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty,
confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown culture
such as one may encounter in a foreign country
15. Xenophobia is an excessive and irrational fear of anything foreign. This fear is most often
of foreign people, places or objects. People who are xenophobic may display fear or even
anger toward others who are foreign. While xenophobia is often used interchangeably
with terms such as prejudice and racism, these terms have different meanings.
16. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one’s
own ethnic culture. People feel pride in the culture in which they have grown up and
from which they have adopted their values and standards of behavior so they judge other
cultures based on their perceptions, values, and beliefs of their own culture. . Problems
arise when individuals view other cultures not only as different, but also as inferior, with
a great danger of behaving in ways that are damaging to those from other culture
17. Cultural diffusion is the process by which a cultural trait, material object, idea, language,
or behavior pattern is spread from one society to another. Diffusion is the movement of
things and ideas from one culture to another. When diffusion occurs, the form of a trait
may move from one society to another but the trait does not mean the same thing it meant
in its original culture.
18. Acculturation is what happens to an entire culture when traits from a different culture
diffuse into the home culture on a large scale and replace the home cultures traditional
patterns of behavior.
19. Trans-culturation is what happens to an individual when he or she moves to another
society and adopts its culture. Immigrants who successfully learn the language and
accept as their own the cultural patterns of their adopted country have trans-culturated.
20. Cultural change occurs in two important ways: l) new ideas, things and norms are always
being introduced into a culture either by invention and innovation or more frequently, by
diffusion (widespread distribution); 2) old things, ideas and norms that are already a part
of culture will die out and be replaced.
21. Assimilate – become part of the dominant culture. Minority cultures tend to become part
of the dominant culture or risk being perceived as different, difficult or a threat to the
dominant culture. Example – Japanese Americans assimilated into the American culture
more quickly after WWII due to the Japanese internment camp experience during WWII.

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