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Member of a Co-Culture

When we say culture, we basically are talking about an umbrella terms that encompasses the knowledge, beliefs, values, morals, customs and other habits acquired by members of a specific society such as Americans or Japanese. While there is the overall global culture and a number of national cultures, there are always co-cultures operating within them. Kearney and Plax (2001) define co-cultures as ôculturally diverse groups distinguished by such factors as race or ethnicity, gender, and professionö (3). If a Japanese-American lives in the U.S., such an individual is a member of the American national culture and the Japanese-American co-culture. As a Puerto Rican-American, I am a member of the national American culture and my own co-culture.

While in the Navy I was stationed in Sasebo, Japan, and as a Puerto Rican-American was a member of a co-culture in Japanese society. One aspect of culture this taught me is that people belong to several co-cultures at the same time. The different manner of dress, the different manner of eating and different foods, the different methods of communication and other aspects of Japanese culture influenced me greatly. I discovered that Japanese culture has distinct methods of communicating in comparison to Puerto Rican or U.S. culture. Puerto Ricans are typically highly expressive and intense when speaking and responsive and agreeable as listeners. The Japanese are a highly collectivistic culture, one high in both power distance and context. The Japanese are much more apt to speak in a manner that is indirect and uses subtle verbal and nonverbal cues showing restraint when speaking. As to power distance, when I explained about town hall meetings in the U.S., the Japanese did not like the concept. I discovered that the Japanese culture shows a high deference to persons in positions of authority, power, or based on age or social status. This taught me that different cultures see and do thin...

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