I. THE CULTURAL SELF
The cultural self integrates man as a member and
a product of society and how his behavior, including his perspectives,
worldviews, and decisions are influenced by his culture and the social
institutions inclusive therein.Intended Learning
Outcomes: At the end of this
Unit, students are expected to demonstrate the following:1. Articulate what culture means to the self as a part of the society.2. Attribute self construal and behavior to cultural factors.
3. Recognize and appreciate differences in cultural behaviors of people
particularly from the Western and Oriental contexts.Diagnostics:
Watch the movie, “Ded na si Lolo” in class.
Ask the students to list down all the traditions and beliefs that they saw in
the movie which influenced the behavior and decisions of the characters in the
story. In groups of four, let the students discuss their answers.Man, as a social being, is
influenced by the culture of the society that he is a part of. Sir Edward B.
Tylor’s defined culture as that complex whole which includes knowledge,
beliefs, arts, morals, law, customs, and any other capabilities and habits
acquired by a human as a member of society” (Popular Science Monthly, 1884). Thus,
the significance of culture in our self-construal is vital since the norms in
the society are culturally based.
As a sociological concept, culture is
made up of all the ideas, beliefs, behaviors, and products common to, and
defining a group’s way of life (Stolley, 2005). It is important to note that
all human beings have their particular culture. This contributes to how they
were raised in the society including the way they see things.
Culture has two components: the material
culture and the non-material culture. Material culture consists of human
technology- all the things people make and use. Everything that we see, from
clocks, kitchen utensils, to nipa huts and skyscrapers are part of the material
culture. This is the physical manifestation of culture itself (Tischler, 2014).
Ferrante (2011), on the other hand defines non-material culture as inclusive of
the intangible human creations that include beliefs, values, norms and symbols.
These non-material culture helps shape our view of the world, of the society,
and of ourselves.
It is important to understand that
non-material culture could manifest in the material culture of people.
Conservatism in a society can manifest in the kind of dress that people wear,
while a very exclusive group would not want to accept any material object from
their outside world. Thus, their material culture would not be influenced by
those whom they consider as outsiders. These material and non-material culture
are vital in the understanding of self in the society. As an individual is
taught the norms in its cultural context, he becomes aware of who he is as a
part of the society, ultimately seeing himself in light of the society’s
Culture is a significant factor in the
continuity of a society. It is what distinguishes a communal group from
another, but more importantly, it develops the behavioral foundations of the
cultural self. The more we get to know our culture, the more we become aware of
how we were influenced by it. Also, the more we get to know people from other
cultures, the more that we are surprised at how different they are not only in
the way they look, or in their language, but more so in how they view
themselves as an individual self and as a member of the communal group. Thus, our
social self can be traced from how we were raised in our society, inclusive of
its beliefs, traditions, ideas and perspectives.
The self is clearly linked to his or her
culture. We can never understand people apart from it since it is the very
personality of the society (Rousseau, 2014). It is not only significant in
understanding individuals, but is very much important also in understanding the
groundwork of the society. It is what builds its structure, and what unites
Markus and Kitayama (1991) explain that construals
of the self, of others, and of the relationship between the self and the people
around him may be even more powerful than previously suggested, and that their
influence is clearly reflected in cultural differences. Cultural differences,
then affects to varying degrees how one thinks of himself as an individual
entity and as a member of the society.
In their explanation of the independent view of the self, an
individual is a separate entity in the community who decides based on his own
logic, sans the influence of the communal group to his decisions. However, it
is important to note that these perspective is something that is instilled also
as part of the values that that group holds dear. In the Western context, when
a person turns 18, he is given the freedom to live on his own, be independent
and orchestrate the life that he wants to design for himself. Individuals
having this perspective are self-centric, an idea, separate from
self-centeredness, which is based solely on improving one’s quality of life.
On the opposite side is the interdependent view of the self, which
explains that a person sees himself as an integral part of the communal group,
be it his nuclear family, his friends, or even his co-workers. Hence, the decisions
of that person would cater not only to what he solely believes is right, but
would ultimately consider his immediate context. His view of the “self” then is
not separate from the values that his family holds dear. Close family ties is
significantly valued in the Asian context. In the Philippines in particular, a
family member discusses even his most personal decisions with his family and
even his friends before jumping into choices which would solely affect himself
and not the people around him.
These views of the self are right
in its own context. It’s the valuing of the culture that affects man’s view of
himself. Thus, the cultural self mirrors
man as a product of everything that the society holds dear.
When all things fail, they will always return to
the principles and the very foundation of their community, of their nation, and
of themselves, all of which are embedded in their culture. Thus, as Ferrante
(2011) explains, culture serves as the blueprint that guides, and in some
cases, even determines the behavior of the nation as a whole, and in the
micro-level, affects the perspective of man about himself.