Culture and stereotypes
How do we face different cultures?
By Débora Heineck, Filipe Vuaden and Samuel Oliveira
Culture has always been defined as something shared by everybody from a same place, where people have the same beliefs, same tastes, same way of thinking and same position towards a situation. These aspects make a country unique, however, they are responsible for the creation of stereotypes.
Stereotypes are aspects related to the culture of a specific country or group of people. The problem is that culture is not homogeneous, because people are different. Stereotypes just show a few aspects about a culture, but people are more than that. The human being is very complex, so it’s impossible to reduce them in one or two characteristics.
In fact, culture is a general concept that includes the main characteristics of each place. Stereotypes are arbitrary aspects based on these characteristics. They are created considering peculiar behavior of a group of people. Nevertheless, what people think about a specific country may not be true. The behavior we see in a group or in a country may have a different meaning than the one we attribute to them.
The fact is that we can only judge a culture if we really know it. We have to consider how the history of the country influences the culture. Things like government organization, geographical aspects and religion can influence the way people think and behave. For example, Oriental and Occidental are very different, concerning diverse ethnic aspects, philosophy, government, food, the way people dress, education, music, work, etc. Because of these differences, a lot of stereotypes were created, like
“Oriental people eat insects and dogs” or “Occidental from South America live in jungles”, and both, Oriental and Occidental people, judge each other based on these stereotypes.
We need to have conscience about how we are judging a culture and make sure we are not spreading the false information about it. Culture exists to make people understand that we can think differently, we can live differently and we can learn with these differences. If everyone thinks the same way, the world stops evolving. So, we have to respect everyone’s culture, try to know it and to learn with it.