[Academic Encounter, Chapter 2, part 1]
The subject of today’s lecture is Culture Shock—Group Pressure in Action.
Culture shock, as you know, is the term used to describe the experience many people have when they travel to another country, and it can be seen as a manifestation of group pressure in action. It is a good example of group pressure, because it shows what happens when an individual suddenly experiences different cultural rules—the rules of another cultural group.
Now culture shock is a complex phenomenon, but I’m going to focus on three main ideas in this lecture. First of all, we will consider the reasons why people experience culture shock. Secondly, I will describe the different stages of this experience. Finally, I’ll mention some possible applications of this research because although you might think that culture shock affects, say, only travelers, that is not the case. In fact, cross-cultural studies have immense practical value for modern society.
First, then, why do people experience culture shock? Think about this for a minute. When you grow up in a particular set of surroundings, naturally you get used to the rules and guidelines that govern the behavior of the people around you. In a sense, you become totally dependent on the rules of your social group. You tend not to question them; you just accept them without thinking. These rules are often not clearly articulated, and therefore, you’re not aware of their impact. In other words, you are not necessarily conscious of them. They only become important when, for example, you go to another country or a different environment that’s governed by a different set of rules. In fact, this experience can be so shocking that it has been compared to having a bucket of cold water thrown over you. Culture shock happens precisely because you cannot use your own culture as a map to guide your own behavior and your own understanding of what surrounds you. You’re totally out of control, just as if you were driving along a highway in the dark, without a road map. And because of this, people often behave irrationally. It’s a highly stressful experience, and there are different symptoms in different stages.
[NPR, Artist’s Love Letters up for Auction]
We know Mick Jagger was the man who wrote the lyrics behind dozens of hit songs by the Rolling Stones, but especially given those songs, it's something of a surprise that he could compose a sweet love letter. One of his many lovers—and thought to be the inspiration behind the song "Brown Sugar"—has those letters and is making them public, for a price.