Norm and Value in two different cultures (Canada and Bangladesh)

Essay by fidaulalamUniversity, Bachelor'sA, January 2009

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Each individual has certain underlying values that contribute to how they organize their ethical or ideological value system. It is related to a degree of behavioural freedom by human beings. They can guide a person on the basis of internally chosen options. Therefore, values imply the (conscious) prioritizing of different behavioural alternatives which are perceived to be possible for the individual. Values can apply to groups or individuals.

I've seen that aspects of the Canadian and Bangladeshi culture differ. For instance in terms of time and time consciousness, the Canadian culture is linear and exact time consciousness and is a value that is placed on promptness (ie. Time=money). Whereas, in the Bangladeshi culture this value is more elastic and relative time consciousness and time is mostly spent on enjoyment of relationships with family and friends. For example, in my culture the focus is on extended family, loyalty and responsibility to family, and age given status and respect.

The young are brought up to show great respect to their elders. It includes mom, dad, grandparents, brother, sister, relatives, and even friends. If a person does not show respect to their elders it is looked as being rude and very offensive and it might cause the person's family to be judged as being uncultured. Usually, the elderly (either the grandparents or eldest person in the family) is a person who major decisions (such as a marriage proposal for a certain family member) are finalized with. Everyone could discuss the matter amongst themselves and then must take their opinion to the eldest person and ask for its approval. In contrast, in the Canadian culture the focus is on nuclear family, responsibility for self, and value on youth. With the marriage example, in the Canadian culture it is not normally required to ask an elderly if a person wishes to date someone. It's more personal choice oriented and is not normally required practice to get the approval of grandparents - sometimes getting the approval of parents is enough. In addition, there are many elderly homes found in Canada whereas, it is not at apparent in Bangladesh. The people are more committed to their jobs in Canada that their elderly parents would need to stay home alone. Therefore, it is sometimes required that they attend elderly residences and live amongst other elderly people. And at least every holiday, they would be visited by their children and/or grandchildren. Whereas, in the Bangladeshi culture they normally live with their children in homes that accommodate many family members. Therefore, the elderly have more interaction with younger people and the entire community. However, the elderly in Bangladesh would often choose to associate their activities with other elderly in the areas they live in with the comfort of not having to live out in an elderly home. Therefore, the value of respecting the elderly and keeping them close and simply having a tight family connection is seen in the Bangladeshi culture whereas it is not so in the Canadian culture.

Norm is a rule that is socially enforced in a culture. Social sanctioning is what distinguishes norms from other cultural products or social constructions such as meaning and value. Norm and normlessness are thought to affect a wide variety of human behaviour. For example, in Canadian culture individuals have more control over their destiny and there is gender equity; whereas, in Bangladesh individuals accept their destiny and there are different roles for men and women. Therefore, aspects of the Canadian and Bangladeshi culture differ. In the Canadian culture there is a "dress for success" ideal and wide range of accepted dress that men and women can choose to wear freely. Whereas, in the Bangladeshi culture dress is seen as a sign of position, wealth, prestige, and, often there are religious rules of dressing that men and women must abide by. In addition, in terms of food and eating habits the Bangladeshi culture there are religious rules and dining is seen as a social experience where men eat just with men in a social gathering and women eat just with women. In contrast, in the Canadian culture eating is seen as a necessity and there are not that many restrictions and therefore in a social gathering men and women may sit by each other for dining. Since women in Bangladesh do not often have jobs and therefore are required to stay at home and look after the family, she will be required to prepare the meals. This is different in the Canadian culture where women have jobs and they are on equal grounds with men. Thus, they do not have many restrictions that Bangladeshi women face in their native country. Men must not stay home in Bangladesh as it is a sign of normlessness and will affect the family dearly if the women has to work instead to run the family. Many problems can arise if the women of the household are out working because the outside community may gossip about the future of their children and when marriage proposals come it will be looked down upon by the others.

In conclusion, the values and norms of Bangladeshi culture differ greatly from the Canadian culture. There seems to be more freedom and flexibility in the Canadian culture and is not very restrictive.