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Logic is the science that deals with the rules and tests of sound thinking and proof by reasoning; sound reasoning. These rules are not the same for all cultures.

Examples can include anything from the reason a child gets sick, to why a government fails, to how it is that the cost of living has gone up, to the reason for drought conditions.

Talk to a number of people about an incident (preferably, the same incident) which has happened recently in your area—an accident, a sickness, a murder, the promotion of a worker, the good passing grade on a test, the winning (or losing) of a football match, etc. Ask your friends to tell his/her account of the incident and ask why they thought it turned out the way it did. Try to follow the progression of thought used by each participant, and the points made by each—things that were right, things that went wrong, why the result came out as it did, what could have prevented the incident, all people or actions that had a part.

Set up a hypothetical situation (or a real one if available) and ask a variety of people what they think. Possibilities: How to address the major health issues in your city? Your reaction to the closing of the local school and bussing the children to a better school 5 miles away? The fairness of food distribution to victims of a disaster? Whys and wherefores, pros and cons, negatives and positives should be addressed in your conversations.

Note how they reach their conclusions. Ask what they perceived as the immediate reason for the incident. Then ask what was behind that–something from the supernatural? something physical, emotional, or mental? What evidences did they present?

Afterwards, compare these various accounts and note differences in how conclusions were made. Now compare this with the way you would have come to a conclusion.

How would this make a difference in presenting reason/result, means/purpose, and condition/ consequence ideas in a more intelligible way in your work?


Try to encourage your friends to identify the characteristics, activities, philosophy that identify them as the member of a nation, tribe, clan, group, club, or any other kind of organization.

What are the most important things that identify a person as a national of your host country? Dress? Language? Civil involvement? Religion? Property ownership?

Of these, which are the most important to maintain? How does one know that a person who might look the same outwardly is a foreigner?

How important is it for a person (a student overseas or in another city, an immigrant) to maintain this identification in his/her new environment? If the individual or family returns to their native country for a visit, what would the expectations of their relatives be concerning their fitting back into the cultural picture?

What would be the expectations of the visitors in regard to acceptance and understanding?

What are the important factors in identifying members of nearby tribes or clans? What makes them different? What factors are at work to erase some of the identification boundaries? Some ideas to research: urbanization, education, national pressure, environmental factors, etc. How concerned are people about these?

When outsiders come to their area for a visit, what things do they sometimes do that offend residents? What important “do’s” and “don’ts” would be helpful to tell them so they could fit in better?

Are there various groups or clubs in the society at large, as community service, charitable organizations, those with an occupational or common interest focus, as hunting, needlework, cooking, etc. ? How does one become a member of such a group? How does one maintain membership (pay dues, attend so many meetings, etc.)? How do “outsiders” identify them as members?

78. CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS: Change? or Keep the Status Quo?

What is the local attitude towards change and progress? This assignment will focus on attitudes regarding outside ideas, values, goals, and attitudes, and their adoption or rejection.

How threatening is the prospect of change? Is there a difference in the way older people view changes in their society and the way the younger generation views them?

Is all change viewed as progress? Why or why not? If so, what kind of progress is envisioned? Is there a general feeling concerning the kind of progress that would be desired? Is there a goal for the community? for the nation? How many are for it, and how many against? Why?

How much change would be tolerated? At what rate could productive change happen without sparking objection and confusion? Think about issues concerning air pollution control, mechanization of agricultural machinery, compulsory education through high school, etc.

Try to set up situations which would elicit information from people about the following topics:

1)     What things are different now than they were when you were a child? Which changes have been good? Why? Which   things should not have been changed? Why?

If you could, would you return to the old ways or not? Why or why not?

2)     What are the main problems in this community? What should be done about them?

What could or should the government help with, and what should the people themselves do? If government help was accepted, what would the obligations be for the community in the line of taxes, military conscription, etc.? Would this be a deterrent? Would it give impetus to the community to do it themselves? Would this promote a community spirit?

3)     If an outsider came to the village and said he could help you to have better farming methods, cash crops, health services, living conditions, education, etc., what would he have to demonstrate or guarantee before villagers would change to his way? If you thought his suggestions were good, would you change even though most of the village decided not to? Why or why not?


Taboos are prohibitions attached to certain objects or actions. The violation of taboos is believed to cause dire consequences (bad luck, disease, death) to the guilty person or to the community. Taboos are thus a type of negative law, having both social and ritual effects. Make a list of taboos, noting when, where, and by whom the object or activity is taboo.

To get started, consider the almost universal taboo against incest; the abominations listed in Leviticus 11, 18, 19; the prohibition in Buddhism against a woman touching a monk; Islamic dietary restrictions, etc.

Are there names of people or things which one must not say? Are there animals which must not be eaten, at least on certain days? Are there people one may not speak to or touch? Are there places one may not go, or where certain things may not be done?

Are there certain relationships within the family or within the community which are forbidden? Are there certain areas of a house or a public area which are off limits?

Are there taboos on when, how, or by whom a ritual object may he touched, used, looked at, etc.? What about where those objects should be placed?

What penalties are there for violation of the taboos? Are there stories about people who violated them and were punished? What part do natural calamities have? or spirits or gods (be specific)?

How can the effects of a violated taboo be averted? Note the details for each type of taboo.

How did particular taboos get started? Are taboos associated with charms and amulets so that they will remain magically effective? How can violations of taboos come to be known, especially if they are violated unwittingly?

76. CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS: Ideal vs. Actual Behavior

Refer to information and insights about behavior you observed from past assignments. Then talk to as many people as you can to try to get an overall picture of the kind of behavior people admire.

Focus on particular roles in the culture, such as husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, kinsman, friend, ancestor, religious or political leader, villager or neighbor, etc. Try to get people to verbalize what they think are the characteristics of a “good husband,” “best friend,” etc. What general and specific qualities emerge as ideals? How do these compare with the ideals of your native culture?

Some qualities to focus on could be uniformity vs. individuality, cooperation vs. competition, generosity, industriousness, obedience to parents, behavior proper for one’s gender, control of one’s emotions, etc.

Reflect on what you have observed of the culture and its people. What differences are there between what people say should be done and what they actually do? Don’t be too critical, however; no culture lives up to its ideals, though it tries to.

Certain deviant patterns may actually provide a safety valve for the release of tensions which the ideal produces. By having such a culturally sanctioned release, the ideals may be maintained since people know there are times and places when they may let loose emotions or actions which would otherwise be frowned on. As you discuss this with various people, see if you can identify what such culturally acceptable deviations might be. You might see someone acting in a strange manner. Ask what the back-ground of this might be—a culturally acceptable deviation?

Talk about your findings with fellow co-workers and discuss what might be culturally acceptable in your own country, but might not be in your host country. What changes need to be made?



What objects are carried rather than transported in another way? How are they carried (baskets, plastic bags, in the arms or hands, slung in a cloth, in a suitcase, on the head)?

What are the cultural expectations as to the type of receptacle that a child, a man, a woman, an elderly person might use or not?

  • What kinds of “stuff” would local people expect people to be carrying?
  • What kinds of things are unusual for them to carry?
  • What would be expected of you as a foreigner?

Does the length of time items need to be carried determine the way they are carried?

Get the terms for the different methods of carrying (on the head, by the handle, with a carrying pole, under the arm, slung between two people, etc.).

Other transport

What other methods are used to transport items from one place to another? Are these specific to different geographical areas? different ethnic groups? gender-specific?

How much cooperation is involved in their use?

  • Are these privately owned and used?
  • Can they be borrowed if needed?
  • Are some available for public use?
  • Who owns them?
  • What is the fee charged for their use?

Learn the names of the various contrivances. Are these ones you can use? If so, find out how you can access them.

Are there certain times during the day when particular things are likely to be carried? Is there a peak time when demand is high for transporting of goods?

Listen for the greetings or questions used when people or drivers pass each other on the way or as they enter or leave the village or building. Observe expressions and body language as well.

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