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Cultural Model Applied to Smaller Groups

Cultural Model Applied to Smaller Groups

Author: Marlene Johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that any group which remains consistent over time will develop rules, assumptions et al similar to culture

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Cultural Models Applied to Smaller Groups

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We are all influenced by the culture that we grew up in, the culture that we live in. But we're also influenced by the groups we belong to. And many times the groups we belong to take on their own identity. And there's certain behaviors and ways of thinking about the world that come out of those groups.

I'm Marlene. And in today's tutorial, I'd like to look at how we can take the cultural model and apply it to the groups that we all belong to.

So think about it. Think about the groups that you belong to. Any time you belong to a group or people come together in a group and stay together for any significant period of time, they develop what's called group norms.

Now, a group norm is the kind of behavior that the group expects, or ways of seeing or thinking about the world that become normal. In other words, what is right, true, or proper in this group? And most groups that come together where people stay together for a significant period of time do so because they have a common goal or purpose. And they become subcultures.

So a subculture is really a culture that's embedded within the larger culture. And there are a lot of them. I am sure we all belong to some subculture. I have a list of them here. And let's take a look at these.

Remember I said that a subculture is formed from a group of people that come together because they have a particular purpose or goal. Now, in today's world you don't even have to meet to be part of the subculture. You could do it through social networking on the internet.

Couponing has become a subculture, where people actually get together around the issue of saving money through coupons. And they have some very innovative ways of doing that, I've heard.

Trekkies, their whole purpose is to honor Star Trek. You can tell them by their dress. They have a particular language. They even hold conventions.

Gangsta is just one of many movements that have come from youth. And this one came out of rap music. And it was a bit of rebellion against the main culture. You could tell kids were part of the gangsta movement by the baggy jeans, the hats on backwards, lots of bling jewelry, a certain walk. So gangsta is just one example.

We could think of many through the years. There's been punk, greasers, if you saw the movie Grease. Back in the '60s, we had the hippies. There's been grunge, a variety of different subcultures that have come from youth. And many of them you can recognize by dress, by music, by particular attitudes towards the world.

So let's take a look at these subcultures. The Amish in particular here have been around for a long period of time. And they are a sect of the Mennonite Church, which is a Christian sect. And they believe their whole purpose in being together is to live simply on the land and not to go with modern technology advances.

Very easy to recognize the Amish if you see them. They use horses and carriages. They dress the way people dressed in the early part of the 19th century. The women wear the long dresses. They have lived as a subculture very successfully within this larger culture for years, for years.

Today we also have the green movement. Now, there's a range of norms or behavior that may be considered appropriate within the green movement. But the focus of everybody who would identify with this subculture would be the environment, something to do with preserving the environment.

For example, you might have vegetarians and vegans. Vegans have a little bit more of strict rules around what they will eat and what they won't eat when it comes to animals. And vegetarians, of course, it's just the meat. They will still have milk. They'll still have other kinds of products that might come from animals. That's just one example coming out of the green movement.

The Sierra Club, this is all around the outdoors, preserving the great outdoors, a lot of activity such as hiking, rafting. Getting involved in the outdoors brings people together to join this club, this organization.

So I invite you to think about the clubs, the social clubs you belong to. Perhaps there are other groups, subcultures, that you belong to. And what are the norms, the behaviors, the attitudes of those particular subcultures?

Now, we all go to work. We all belong to organizations. And organizations themselves can develop their own culture. They do develop their own culture. So I'm going to move this aside.

And let's look at organizational culture. Now, organizational culture refers to the rules and the norms governing behavior in any given organization. Or you could look at it as type of organization.

Notice I have formal and casual here. Well, I think it would be pretty obvious that a law firm is going to fall more into the formal kind of culture. You'll see that just in the way the office is arranged when you walk in, the way people dress as opposed to a tech start-up company, which would be more casual just in terms of the way the office is laid out, how people are dressing. There may be no formal dress in a tech start-up.

But any particular company or organization has its own culture. Sometimes it might be called corporate culture. Sometimes it might be more hierarchical and structured.

There may be other times where management might be quite involved with the people who work there. It's part of the culture to send birthday cards or cards for special occasions, a lot of customer service recognizing key customers involved in the community. Those would all be considered part of the organizational culture of a particular company.

So I invite you to think about where you work and think about the subcultures you belong to. What are the norms, the expectations, the view of the world? And think about how you can put the cultural model here to work with the groups you belong with and what the aspects of the group are that really influence your behavior and your way of seeing the world.

I'm Marlene. And I've enjoyed being part of this tutorial with you. I look forward to next time.

  • Sub-Culture

    A group with a different cultural orientation than the larger culture around it.

  • Group Norms

    The variety of behaviors and perceptions considered "right", "true" or "proper" by a group.

  • Organizational Culture

    The rules and norms governing behavior in a given organization or type of organization.