Monday, April 4, 2011

A to Z: Culture

In which Wikipedia defines as:
"-An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning.
-The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group."

When considering human behavior one should consider the culture from which that person is from. As individual as humans can be, we are all shaped by our culture at some level. What one culture considers normal can be seen as abnormal in the next. In my cross cultural psychology seminar we learned that in some cultures dissociative identity disorder (what used to be referred to as multiple personalities) is seen as someone touched by the divine/gods.

And this is also fun when creating our characters, even ones that exist in the real world. It can be easy to overlook culture in our mainstream fiction characters, but it is still worth considering their culture and subculture. Then with the more speculative types of fiction we have more control over the elements of culture(s). What is normal social interactions for a culture? How does the main character fit in with these cultural norms? Having a character that doesn't quite gel with their cultural norms can be a nice way to work in some conflict.


Toby Neal said...

Good point! No character arises in a vacuum.

Julie said...

This is good food for thought when developing characters. Great post!

Mary Aalgaard said...

I love learning about cultures different from my own. I wish more people embraced the newness of that rather than were afraid and critical. It would be a more peaceful world.

Lisa said...

If so many could be sensitive to this issue the world would be a far kinder place.

Nice post.


Catherine Ensley said...

I so agree. We get so many of our beliefs and values from our culture, and don't realize how much we are influenced by it. It would be cool to write fantasy for that reason. I'm a fellow A to Z'er and a fellow writer, and happy to follow you.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

One of the reason I love reading and writing fantasy is the chance to invent new cultures. Great 'C'

Joyce Shor Johnson said...

Culture is very important when crafting characters. It keeps everything from becoming homogenized.

Great post for C!

Sarah Mäkelä said...

Great post! I love learning about different cultures, but I don't always think about how cultures play a part in sculpting the characters when I write. Definitely something I need to work on.

Sylvia Ney said...

Great advice! Thank you for stopping by my blog. I look forward to reading more from you.