4th Station – Deep culture


You need to be online (with audio) to watch some short films and carry out some research. You will also need to have a pen and paper to hand to capture your thoughts, a copy of the Cultural Iceberg/ Cultural Tree Worksheet (with your notes from Station 3 if you completed it).

Download worksheet here>


There are two ways in which we get to know a culture – firstly from the things that we can easily observe –surface culture – stuff like music, art, dance, types of food, what people wear…. things that we might observe as tourists, but which only provide a superficial impression of a community’s culture.

The other way to get to know a community is to reach beneath the surface, and develop a greater understanding of Deep Culture: the ideas and beliefs, the feelings and attitudes that shape – and are shaped by – collective experiences and behavioural norms, and which, in turn, influence (but do not necessarily dictate) the way in which people of that culture might behave.

Examples of deep culture might include attitudes toward authority, concepts of marriage, family dynamic, or ideas about time and about personal spaceWe discover these through examining the beliefs and values; relationships and roles; and attitudes and norms of a culture. But where do we start? Watch this short film:  

How Do We Understand Our Own Culture?

How can we begin to understand other cultures without understanding our own? Where do we begin?

The development of International Understanding between ourselves and people from other countries and cultures is a two-way-street. That is to say that before we seek to understand the cultural influences that drive their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours, we first must understand our own. Only then can we look for sameness and difference and make allowances for our own cultural bias.

So where do we start?

Watch and Learn:

Watch the following short films and consider (and make notes under) the following questions:

Influences on Intercultural Communication

This animated film gives an overview of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory and how we might use it as a reference point in developing intercultural understanding. The film discusses the first four dimensions of the theory: Power distance; Individualism vs. collectivism; Uncertainty avoidance and Masculinity vs Femininity.


Me or We? Cultural Difference between East and West

How does your culture dictate your views on family, individuality, and even sharing food? This animated film considers the difference between ‘Collectivist’ (sometimes referred to as ‘Eastern’ or ‘We’) cultures and Individualistic (sometimes referred to as ‘Western’ or ‘Me’) cultures.

What Is the difference between Monochronic and Polychronic cultures?

There is one factor we all share and have equal access to – time. No matter who we are each day we are presented with 86,400 seconds to use, lose, spend or save. Not everyone or every culture views or values time the same way. Depending on where you live in the world, you have developed your view of time and what it means to how you conduct your day.

Exploring Deep Culture

Choose the way in which you want to capture your thoughts in this section – if you completed station 3 this activity will add to your worksheet from that section. If not you might want to use one of the worksheets provided or draw yourself an iceberg, a tree, a spider diagram or other graphic representation (see worksheet example).

With reference to the following sources, consider the deep culture sections “Belief and Values”, “Relationships and Roles” and “Attitudes and Norms” (we will complete “communication” at Station 5):

Consider the following questions, and discuss them with members of your family (and your other social groups if you can) before making some notes in each of the three sections:

Beliefs and Values

Relationships and Roles

Attitudes and Norms

Consolidate your learning

Look at the notes you have made on the deep culture section of your diagram and consider:

As we have so far discovered, at an individual level, the people of any nation are each a fusion of the many cultural influences that shape their personality, set their behavioural norms and frame their outlook on the world. The only way to really get to understand other people is to communicate – to set preconceptions aside, to be curious, ask questions, listen and observe.

Research Activity: Find out in Five

Based on the discoveries you have made about the deep cultural influences in your own life, try distilling what you have learnt into five key questions that someone from another country or culture would need to ask of you in order to better understand you. Consider how you would answer those questions and how you would demonstrate the effects of that cultural influence.

Then consider what five questions you would want to respectfully ask of them? Are the questions the same? To what extent is your curiosity informed by your culture and to what extent by personal interests that are unrelated to your culture?

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