早大理工2012年入試問題


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[A] Culture is a useful concept in discussing human societies. One of the common definitions is that culture is a set of essential features of a people belonging to a particular social group, ethnic group, or country-features that can include their customs, language, attitudes, social institutions, values, and practices. This refers to what is also called 'large culture.' Such a definition, however, has inherent problems. One problem arises from a lack of consensus about the exact quality and quantity of essential features a person must possess to belong. As a consequence, large culture membership may be officially determined, for example, according to whether a person holds a particular passport. However, in many cases, such ways of determining large culture membership are unofficial, for instance, when large culture pertains to a person's social group membership. The consequences of this lack of clarity are evident when one considers people of Japanese ethnicity living in Hawaii, Brazil, or California. They could count themselves as belonging to the Japanese culture, while others may more officially exclude them as they live outside of Japan and may not meet official criteria that are employed for determining who exactly is Japanese.

[B] A further problem with the definition of large culture is that it can lead to a characterization of individuals from a particular group as being the same as other members of the group-in other words, it can lead to stereotyping. The concept of culture does not correspond to a real construct. It is only a convenient concept created by sociologists and employed by academics, politicians, teachers and others to develop abstract characterizations of groups of people and their behaviors. While the use of such a concept helps to simplify the understanding of other people, there is an associated danger that such simplifications are based on subjective or limited experiences of interactions with members of other cultures-and thus inaccurate. Too often, the interactions are superficial or indirect, perhaps only through what is presented in the mass media, popular literature, or the Internet.

[C] The process of abstraction in conceptualizing culture is not a problem in itself. As human beings, we naturally tend to
group things together using abstract categories-in fact, the development of language relies on this process. The problem occurs, however, when we forget that particular concepts like European race or Japanese culture are only abstractions. If we see these abstract ideas as concrete realities, we could end up depersonalizing the members we have mentally assigned to a particular group. Serious social issues such as racism-and consequent maltreatment or abuse--could follow. For example, ethnic minorities tend to be excluded from work-related promotion because some people perceive them in terms of stereotypes, and automatically assign them negative qualities such as being ''too emotional" or ''too inflexible."

[D] The concept of large culture is inadequate for explaining or predicting relationships and behaviors. For example, without more explicit qualification of the term, it would virtually be impossible to verify any serious hypotheses such as that, as members of their collective culture, Japanese students are more hesitant in expressing their opinions in public than students from Western cultures.

[E] The concept of 'small culture' provides an alternative model that can be used to help understand human societies. Any social group created by the cohesive behavior of its members is, by definition, a small culture. Here, social groups are not identified or determined by geographical borders or by vague concepts like ethnicity. Instead, social groups pertain to the small groups we participate in every day.

[F] Rather than membership in a single large culture, people in small cultures are seen as belonging to numerous groups, each one having its own small culture. On any given day, a student, for example, participates in many groups such as the group traveling by train, the homeroom, her regular lunch group of friends, activity club groups after school, and a family dinner group.

[G] Another implication of the concept of small culture is that culture is no longer seen as static. Rules governing groups can change or evolve. A new small culture forms when there is a need to establish a group with a common purpose. Rules to regulate the group members' behavior will be unconsciously negotiated, usually based on individual members' expectations. These are drawn from their past experiences in similar cultures. Eventually, the culture will naturalize-the behavior constructed for the sake of social cohesion will become normal and taken for granted.

Holliday, Adrian. "Small cultures." Applied Linguistics 20 (1999): 237-264.







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