Many of times I have attempted to comprehend the actions of other people. I always wanted to
know why people of different genders, descents, and colors had certain cultural, societal, and religious
beliefs. It became apparent to me that all persons are a direct reflection of their atmosphere. In other
words all persons unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) reflect and imitate their atmosphere and
the things that they see it them. Various cultures carry their own individual stereotypes and belief system.
The reason for this is that people place arbitrary meanings on lifes occurrences based upon those of the
individuals which preceded them. Thought patterns of an individual are all dependent upon the teachings
We perceive and understand the physical and social world based on the meanings we attach to
people, things, and actions. To put it simply our minds are all guided by the force of “other minds” that
are “more developed” than our own. This is all a part of Sociological study. These studies look at the
predominant attitudes, behavior, and types of relationships within a society. A society is a group of
people who have a similar cultural background and live in a specific geographical area. but before we
get into this however Lets take a step back and look at the field in which these studies derive from.
Sociology is a social science that studies individuals, groups, and institutions that make up
human society. It is an observation of how people relate to one another and to their environments. They
also study the formation of groups; the causes of various forms of social behavior; and the role of
churches, schools, and other institutions within a society. Social behavior is studied extensively in the
field of sociology. Sociologist usually work with small groups and observe attitude change, conformity,
leadership, morale, and other forms of behavior. They also study the way the members of a group
respond to one another and to other groups.
The sociological perspective is based on the assumption that for a given collectively there is a
collective reality that can be studied in it’s own right. Various cultures develop their own cultural
practices based on the traditions of their predecessors. In these societies, standards of behavior are
passed on from one generation to the next. Because of this, these various cultures all carry and practice
unique ideologies. The ideologies are developed by socialization.
Socialization is the complex process by which individuals come to learn and perform behavior
expected of them by society. Socialization teaches habits, ideas, attitudes, and values. This is one of the
principle ways by which society preserve themselves. Learning plays an important part in socialization.
A person must acquire a wide range of information and skills to participate in the activities of a family, a
play group, a school group, a business, or a political system. From the family, children learn such basic
functions as proper etiquette, hygiene, and association with other peer groups. They also learn the basic
values, beliefs, and goals of the family. For example, they learn what it is to be male or female, what to
believe as truth and falsehood, and what to value in human relations. This process varies with different
cultural and ethnic backgrounds. This is what makes society so unique and profound.
In most societies, socialization begins in infancy and continues throughout a person's life. Other agencies,
especially the school, have taken over some of the socialization functions of the family. As individuals
advance through successive stages of school, they continually discard some attitudes and roles and take
on new ones. Other important elements that influence an individual's social behavior include friends and
co-workers, religious institutions, television, motion pictures, and various kinds of reading matter.
People learn much of their culture through imitation and experience. They also acquire culture through
observation, paying attention to what goes on around them and seeing examples of what their society
considers right and wrong. This is what makes each society different in our every day lives. For
example, Arabs tend to stand closer together when speaking to one another than most Europeans do.
No one instructs them to do so, but they learn the behavior as part of their culture. Another example of
how socialization affects individual cultures can be found in the roles we as individuals play in society.
Race, Gender, Religious affiliation, and ethnicity are some of the factors which attribute to collective
realities in a society. This can be found in the various taboos that different cultures have. For example in
various parts of the world, the clothes you wear are seen as a mark of the respect in which you hold the
people of the countries you are visiting. In Many parts of Asia it is viewed as an insult to wear Shorts
and T-shirts. Asians tend not to wear shorts regardless of how hot it is. A westerner who is not aware
of this taboo can be in danger of ridicule or punishment because they do not carry the same moral code
of that society. In 1988, in Los Angeles, an entertainer from Thailand was convicted of the murder of a
young Laotian. The entertainer was singing in an after-hours club when the audience member put his
foot on a chair with the sole directed at the entertainer. When the club closed, the entertainer followed
the man and shot him. The reason was that among Southeast Asians, showing or directing the sole of the
shoe to another person is considered a grievous insult. An incident also took place in Hong Kong a few
years ago because of a hand signal miscommunication. A television station there took an annual picture
of all their entertainers before the Chinese New Year. As a joke, famous Kung-fu actor Jackie Chan,
who recently played the main actor in the movie “Rush Hour,” held his fist with his middle finger stuck
out on top of the head of an actress who stood in front of him. When his photo appeared in the
newspapers, the station received dozens of calls from Westerners living in Hong Kong complaining
about the indecent gesture. As many of us may know in western culture, the middle finger represents an
indecent gesture, However when Chan applied this gesture, he meant to suggest that his friend had
grown horns on her head for fun. Chan refused to apologize because his gesture was not intended to be
an insult as the gesture is not considered indecent in Chinese Society. Examples such as these may
seem funny, but severe punishment might have come to those who failed to observe the rules in an
earlier time and today as well. Another Example of cultural differences may be found in religion. many
denominations hold Sunday as their “holy” day or day of Sabbath. Where as others feel that it should
be held on Saturday. seventh day Adventist are a sect which feel that it is the latter. So on Saturday they
are to stray away from all secular practices. This includes watching television, listening to radio or
partaking in any activities which is not in reverence of their religion. To a Christian however this practice
would seem absurd. Their reality does not carry the same beliefs.
Although these are just a few examples it gives you an idea of how a persons geographical location and
cultural background can shape their individuals belief. Many of which are not practiced by other
cultures. If you wanted to better understand a persons ways or why it is that people of different ethnic
backgrounds have different beliefs and practices. It would be best to start with trying to understand that
persons culture and their socialization process. Once you begin to grasp an understanding and they way
they have grew up then it will be easier to understand why they do things in a certain way.