Intercultural Counseling - Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

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What is culture?

Culture is generally understood as the entirety of conventions, norms and habits by which members of a given society live. Anthropologists can be critical of this view and insist that societies are never culturally homogenous and that the behaviors of their members are never the same. From the perspective of cultural "outsiders", however, "cultural specifics" are always discernable.

In everyday life, few people are aware of the fact that they carry and represent a particular culture. Our own culture consists of a series of assumed "rules" which are hardly questioned as long as we remain "at home". The moment we leave our familiar environment, many of these rules lose their validity. The problem is that – because of our limited awareness of our own cultural profile – at the moment when we experience a "violation of those rules", we feel disoriented and usually misinterpret the reasons and the impact of the disturbance. As a result, we may choose not to seek professional intercultural help.




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