- refers to the processes by which families, communities and societies react to inter-cultural contact while retaining characteristics of own culture. As a result a new, composite culture emerges, in which some existing cultural features are combined, some are lost, and new features appear. The earliest recorded western discussion of acculturation appears to be that of Plato in 348 BC. More than 100 different taxonomies of acculturation have been formulated since then.  See also adaptation, assimilation, enculturation, syncretism and transculturation.

Acculturation Difficulty
 - A problem stemming from an inability to appropriately adapt to a different culture or environment. The problem is not based on any coexisting mental disorder.

 - is a process of reconciliation and of coming to terms with a changed socio-cultural environment by making "adjustments cognitive adaptation" in one's cultural identity. It is also a stage of intercultural sensitivity, which may allow the person to function in a bicultural capacity. In this stage, a person is able to take the perspective of another culture and operate successfully within that culture. The person should know enough about his or her own culture and a second culture to allow a mental shift into the value scheme of the other culture, and an evaluation of behaviour based on its norms, rather than the norms of the individual's culture of origin. This is referred to as "." The more advanced form of adaptation is "behavioural adaptation," in which the person can produce behaviours appropriate to the norms of the second culture. Adaptation may also refer to patterns of behavior which enable a culture to cope with its surroundings.

Affinal Kin - Persons related by marriage. Direct affinityCollateral affinity  is the relationship between the husband and his wife's relations by blood or between the wife and the husband's relations by blood. is the relationship between the husband and the relations of his wife's relations.

Age Discrimination - is discrimination against a person or group on the basis of age. Age discrimination usually comes in one of two forms: discrimination against youth, and discrimination against the elderly.

Apartheid - was a system of racial segregation used in South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s. Though first used in 1917 by Jan Smuts, the future Prime Minister of South Africa, apartheid was simply an extension of the segregationist policies of previous white governments in South Africa. The term originates in Afrikaans or Dutch, where it means "separateness'White South Africa'". Races, classified by law into White, Black, Indian, and Coloured groups, were separated, each with their own homelands and institutions. This prevented non-white people from having a vote or influence on the governance. Education, medical care and other public services available to non-white people were vastly inferior and non-whites were not allowed to run businesses or professional practices in those areas designated as .

Assimilation - is a process of consistent integration whereby members of an ethno-cultural group, typically immigrants, or other minority groups, are "absorbed" into an established larger community. If a child assimilates into a new culture, he/she gives up his/her cultural values and beliefs and adopts the new cultural values in their place. Originates from a Piagetian (Swiss Developmental Psychologist JEAN PIAGET, 1896-1980) term describing a person's ability to comprehend and integrate new experiences.

Behavioural Cue
 - A stimulus, either consciously or unconsciously perceived, that elicits or signals a type of behaviour. In other words it is a stimulus that provides information about what to do in a particular situation.

Belief system - is the way in which a culture collectively constructs a model or framework for how it thinks about something. A religion is a particular kind of belief system. Other examples of general forms of belief systems are ideologies, paradigms and world-views also known by the German word Weltanschauungpostmodernism. In addition to governing almost all aspects of human activity, belief systems have a significant impact on what a culture deems worthy of passing down to following generations as its cultural heritage. This also influences how cultures view the cultural heritage of other cultures. Many people today recognize that there is no one correct belief system or way of thinking. This is known as relativism or conceptual relativism. This contrasts with objectivism and essentialism, both of which posit a reality that is independent of the way in which people conceptualize. A plurality of belief systems is a hallmark of .

Biculturalism - The simultaneous identification with two cultures when an individual feels equally at home in both cultures and feels emotional attachment with both cultures. The term started appearing in the 1950s.

Bilingual Education - teaching a second language by relying heavily on the native language of the speaker. The background theory claims that a strong sense of one's one culture and language is necessary to acquire another language and culture.

Bottom-up Development - Economic and social changes brought about by activities of individuals and social groups in society rather than by the state and its agents.

 - Economic or socio-economic system in which production and distribution are designed to accumulate capital and create profit. A characteristic feature of the system is the separation of those who own the means of production and those who work for them. The Communist ManifestoKapitalist by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels first used the term  in 1848. The first use of the word capitalism is by novelist William Thackeray in 1854. 

Clash of Civilizations - is a hotly debated theory publicized by Samuel P. Huntington with his 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World OrderThe Atlantic Monthly. He argues that the world has cultural fault lines similar to the physical ones that cause earthquakes and that people's cultural/religious identity will be the primary agent of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Bernard Lewis first used the term in an article in the September 1990 issue of  called "The Roots of Muslim Rage."

Collectivism - Individualism/Collectivism is one of the Hofstede dimensions in intercultural communication studies. "Collectivism pertains to societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people's lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty." (Hofstede, G. (1991). 

Communism - A political theory of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Communism is characterized by the common ownership of the means of production contra private ownership in capitalism. The Soviet Union was the first communist state and lasted from 1917 to 1991.

Consanguineal Kin - A blood relative. An individual related by common descent from the same individual. In most societies of the world, kinship can be traced both by common descent and through marriage, although a distinction is usually made between the two categories. The degree of consanguinity between any two people can be calculated as the percentage of genes they share through common descent.

Conspicuous Consumption - the excessive display of material items for the purpose of impressing others. People who make money very quickly or the noveau riche are often portrayed as doing this with unrefined taste. The term was first used by the American economist Thorstein Veblen, in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).

Contact zone - The space in which transculturation takes place - where two different cultures meet and inform each other, often in highly asymmetrical ways.

Cosmology - ideas and beliefs about the universe as an ordered system, its origin and the place of humans in the universe.

Counterculture - is a sociological term used to describe a cultural or social group whose values and norms are at odds with those of the social mainstream. The term became popular during the youth rebellion and unrest in the USA and Western Europe in the 1960s as a reaction against the conservative social norms of the 1950s.  The Russian term Counterculture has a different meaning and is used to define a cultural movement that promotes acting outside the usual conventions of Russian culture - using explicit language, graphical description of sex, violence and illicit activities. Counterculture in an Asian context as launched by Dr. Sebastian Kappen, an Indian Theologian very influential in the third world, means an approach for navigating between the two opposing cultural phenomena in modern Asian countries: (1) invasion by western capitalist culture and (2) the emergence of revivalist movements in reaction. Identification with the first requires losing own identity and with the second results in living in a world of obsolete myths and phantoms of the dead past. Thus discovering one's own cultural roots in a creative and yet critical fashion while being open to the positive facets of the other. (Adapted from

Cross Cultural - Interaction between individuals from different cultures. The term cross-cultural is generally used to describe comparative studies of cultures. Inter cultural is also used for the same meaning. 

Cross Cultural Awareness - develops from cross-cultural knowledge as the learner understands and appreciates the deeper functioning of a culture. This may also be followed by changes in the learner's own behaviour and attitudes and a greater flexibility and openness becomes visible.

Cross-cultural Communication  - (also referred to asIntercultural Communication) is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds try to communicate. As a science, Cross-cultural communication tries to bring together such seemingly unrelated disciplines as communication, information theory, learning theories and cultural anthropology. The aim is to produce increased understanding and some guidelines, which would help people from different cultures to better, communicate with each other.

Cross-Cultural Communication Skills - refers to the ability to recognize cultural differences and similarities when dealing with someone from another culture and also the ability to recognize features of own behaviour, which are affected by culture.

Cross Cultural Competence - is the final stage of cross-cultural learning and signals the individual's ability to work effectively across cultures. Cross cultural competency necessitates more than knowledge, awareness and sensitivity because it requires the digestion, integration and transformation of all the skills and information acquired through them and applied to create cultural synergy within the workplace or elsewhere. This should be the aim of all those dealing with multicultural clients, customers or colleagues.

Cross Cultural Knowledge - refers to a surface level familiarization with cultural characteristics, values, beliefs and behaviours. It is vital to basic cross-cultural understanding and without it cross-cultural competence cannot develop.

Cross Cultural Sensitivity - refers to an individual's ability to read into situations, contexts and behaviours that are culturally rooted and consequently the individual is able to react to them suitably. A suitable response necessitates that the individual no longer carries his/her own culturally predetermined interpretations of the situation or behaviour (i.e. good/bad, right/wrong). 

Cultural Anthropology - The study of contemporary and recent historical cultures among humans all over the world.  The focus is on social organization, culture change, economic and political systems and religion. Cultural anthropologists argue that culture is "human nature," and that all people have a capacity to classify experiences, encode classifications symbolically and teach such abstractions to others. They believe that humans acquire culture through learning and people living in different places or different circumstances may develop different cultures because it is through culture that people can adapt to their environment in non-genetic ways. Cultural anthropology is also referred to as social or sociocultural anthropology.

Cultural Boundaries - Cultural Boundaries can be defined as those invisible lines, which divide territories, cultures, traditions, practices, and worldviews. Typically they are not aligned with the physical boundaries of political entities such as nation states.

Cultural Construct - the idea that the characteristics people attribute to social categories such as gender, illness, death, status of women, and status of men is culturally defined.

Cultural Convergence - is an idea that increased communication among the peoples of the world via the Internet will lead to the differences among national cultures becoming smaller over time, eventually resulting in the formation of a single global culture. One outcome of this process is that unique national identities will disappear, replaced by a single transnational identity. Henry Jenkins, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA coined the term in 1998.

Cultural Diffusion - The spreading of a cultural trait (e.g., material object, idea, or behaviour pattern) from one society to another. 

Cultural Diversity - Differences in race, ethnicity, language, nationality or religion. Cultural diversity refers to the variety or multiformity of human social structures, belief systems, and strategies for adapting to situations in different parts of the world.

Cultural Identity - is the identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as her/his belonging to a group or culture affects her/his view of herself/himself. People who feel they belong to the same culture share a common set of norms. 

Cultural Norms - are behaviour patterns that are typical of specific groups, which have distinct identities, based on culture, language, ethnicity or race separating them from other groups. Such behaviours are learned early in life from parents, teachers, peers and other human interaction. Norms are the unwritten rules that govern individual behaviour. Norms assume importance especially when broken or when an individual finds him/herself in a foreign environment dealing with an unfamiliar culture where the norms are different. 

Cultural Relativism - The position that the values, beliefs and customs of cultures differ and deserve recognition and acceptance. This principle was established by the German anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942) in the first few decades of the 20th century. Cultural relativism as a movement was in part a response to Western ethnocentrism. Between World War I and World War II, "Cultural relativism" was the central tool for American anthropologists in their refusal of Western claims to universality.

Cultural Sensitivity - is a necessary component of cultural competence, meaning that we make an effort to be aware of the potential and actual cultural factors that affect our interactions with others.

Cultural Universal - General cultural traits and features found in all societies of the world. Some examples are organization of family life; roles of males, females, children and elders; division of labour; religious beliefs and practices; birth and death rituals; stories of creation and myths for explaining the unknown; "rights"  "wrongsand" of behaviour etc.

Cultural Universalism - Cultural Universalism is the assertion that there exist values, which transcend cultural and national differences. Universalism claims that more "primitive" cultures will eventually evolve to have the same system of law and rights as Western cultures. Cultural relativists on the other hand hold an opposite viewpoint, that a traditional culture is unchangeable. In universalism, an individual is a social unit, possessing inalienable rights, and driven by the pursuit of self-interest. In the cultural relativist model, a community is the basic social unit where concepts such as individualism, freedom of choice, and equality are absent. 

Culture - The shared values, norms, traditions, customs, arts, history, folklore and institutions of a group of people. "Integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviour that is both a result of and integral to the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generationscolere." The etymological root of the word is from the Latin '' which means to cultivate, from which is derived 'cultusKultur', that which is cultivated or fashioned. In comparison of words such as "" and "Zivilisation" in German, "culture" and civilisation" in English, and "culture" and "civilisation" in French the concepts reveal very different perspectives. The meaning of these concepts is however, converging across languages as a result of international contacts, cultural exchanges and other information processes. 
Quotation from source

Culture Shock - A state of distress and tension with possible physical symptoms after a person relocates to an unfamiliar cultural environment. This term was used by social scientists in the 1950s to describe, the difficulties of a person moving from the country to a big city but now the meaning has changed to mean relocating to a different culture or country. One of the first recorded use of the term was in 1954 by the anthropologist Dr. Kalervo Oberg who was born to Finnish parents in British Columbia, Canada.  While giving a talk to the Women's Club of Rio de Janeiro, August 3, 1954, he identified four stages of culture shock-the honeymoon of being a newcomer and guest, the hostility and aggressiveness of coming to grips with different way of life, working through feelings of superiority and gaining ability to operate in the culture by learning the language and finally acceptance of another way of living and worldview. (Source: American Anthropologist June, 1974   Vol.76 (2): 357-359.

 - The process which facilitates a marginal or stigmatized space becoming 'normalized' so that its population is incorporated into the mainstream.

Diaspora -  The term was originally used by the ancient Greeks to mean citizens of a large city who migrated to a conquered land with the purpose of colonization to assimilate the territory into the empire. Later the word was used to refer specifically to the populations of Jews exiled from Judea in 586 BC and from Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans. Now the term is used to refer to other population dispersals, voluntary and non-voluntary. The modern term evokes a sense of exile and homelessness.

Diffuse - Diffuse/Specific is one of the value dimensions proposed by Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1997). It shows "how far we choose to get involved". In a very diffuse culture, a large part of the life is regarded as "private", where other persons without explicit consent have no access. 

Discrimination - Treatment or consideration based on class or category defined by prejudicial attitudes and beliefs rather than individual merit. The denial of equal treatment, civil liberties and opportunities to education, accommodation, health care, employment and access. In many countries discrimination by law consists of making unjust distinctions based on:

  • ¥ Religion, political affiliation, marital or family status

  • ¥ Age, sexual orientation, gender, race, colour, nationality

  • ¥ Physical, developmental or mental disability

State organized discriminations are universal only in mild forms e.g. non-citizens are excluded from health-care, unemployment support or study support. Extreme cases such as apartheid in South Africa, racial segregation in the USA and anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany are not very common. Normative attempts by governments to reduce discrimination include equal opportunity laws, civil rights legislation and state policies of affirmative action.

Diversity - The concept of diversity means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing individual differences along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. Primary dimensions are those that cannot be changed e.g., age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race and sexual orientation. Secondary dimensions of diversity are those that can be changed, e.g., educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, parental status, religious beliefs, and work role/experiences. Diversity or diversity management includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong.

- Affirming, promoting, or characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people. One of the seven fundamental value dimensions of Shalom Schwartz measuring how other people are recognized as moral equals.

Embeddedness - One of the seven fundamental value dimensions of Shalom Schwartz describing people as part of a collective.

Enculturation - is the process whereby an established culture teaches an individual its accepted norms and values, by establishing a context of boundaries and correctness that dictates what is and is not permissible within that society's framework. Enculturation is learned through communication by way of speech, words, action and gestures. The six components of culture learnt are: technological, economic, political, interactive, ideological and world-viewsocialization. It is also called . (Conrad Phillip Kottack, Cultural Anthropology)

Endogamy - is the practice of marrying within one's own social group. Cultures who practice endogamy require marriage between specified social groups, classes, or ethnicities. Strictly endogamous communities like the JewsParsees, the  of India and the Yazidi exogamyof Iraq claim that endogamy helps minorities to survive over a long time in societies with other practices and beliefs. The opposite practice is .

Ethnic Competence - The capacity to function effectively in more than one culture, requiring the ability to appreciate and understand features of other ethnic groups and further to interact with people of ethnic groups other than one's own.

Ethnicity - Belonging to a common group with shared heritage, often linked by race, nationality and language.

Ethnocentrism - Belief in the superiority of one's own ethnic group. Seeing the world through the lenses of one's own people or culture so that own culture always looks best and becomes the pattern everyone else should fit into.

Exogamy - is the custom of marrying outside a specific group to which one belongs. Some experts hold that the custom of exogamy originated from a scarcity of women, which forced men to seek wives from other groups, e.g., marriage by capture. Another viewpoint ascribes the origin of exogamy to totemism, and claim that a religious respect for the blood of a totemic clan, led to exogamy. The opposite of exogamy is endogamy.

Expatriate - Someone who has left his or her home country to live and work in another country. When we go to another country to live, we become expatriates or expats for short.

Extended Family - The relatives of an individual, both by blood and by marriage, other than its immediate family, such as aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, who live in close proximity and often under one roof.  Extended families are very common in collectivistic cultures. This is the opposite of the nuclear family.

 -  A term used particularly to describe the nationalistic and totalitarian regimes of Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-45) and Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-45). Fascism is characterised by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over almost all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic. The fascist state also regulates and controls the means of production and takes all investment decisions. The word "fascismfasces" comes from the  (rods bundled around an axe), which was the ancient Roman symbol of the authority of judges.

Faux Pas - (French word meaning false step) is a violation of accepted and unwritten, social norms. What is considered good manners in one culture can be considered a faux pas in another. For example, in Western societies it is usually considered a friendly gesture to bring a bottle of wine when invited to someone's house for dinner. French hosts may consider this insulting as it implies that the hosts are unable to serve their own good wine. 

Feminity - Masculinity/Feminity is one of the Hofstede dimensions. Hofstede defines this dimension as follows: "femininity pertains to societies in which social agenda roles overlap (i.e., men and women are supposed be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life)." (Hofstede, 1991, p. 83)

Feudalism - Hierarchical social and political system common in Europe during the medieval period. The majority of the population were engaged in subsistence agriculture while simultaneously having an obligation to fulfil certain duties for the landholder. At the same time the landholder owed various obligations  called fealty to his overlord.

Gender Discrimination
 - Gender discrimination is any action that allows or denies opportunities, privileges or rewards to a person on the basis of their gender alone. The term 'glass ceiling' describes the process by which women are barred from promotion by means of an invisible barrier. In the United States, the Glass Ceiling Commission has stated that women represent 1.1% of inside directors (those drawn from top management of the company) on the boards of Fortune 500 companies. 

Gentrification - The process by which middle- and upper class incomers displace established working-class communities. Gentrification may be small-scale and incremental (i.e. started by individuals) or be associated with major redevelopment and regeneration schemes by governments or public bodies e.g. Docklands and Notting Hill in London.

Global Culture - One world culture. The earth's inhabitants will lose their individual cultural diversity and one culture will remain for all the people.

Globalization - A disputed term relating to transformation in the relationship between space, economy and society. The International Monetary Fund defines globalization as "the growing economic interdependence of countries worldwide through increasing volume and variety of cross-border transactions in goods and services, free international capital flows, and more rapid and widespread diffusion of technology". Meanwhile, The International Forum on Globalization defines it as "the present worldwide drive toward a globalized economic system dominated by supranational corporate trade and banking institutions that are not accountable to democratic processes or national governments."

Glocalization - The interaction between the particular character of places or regions and the more general processes of change represented by globalization. The term glocalization emphasizes that the globalization of a product is more likely to succeed when the product or service is adapted specifically to each locality or culture it is marketed in.  Glocalization as a term first appeared in the late 1980s in articles by Japanese economists in the Harvard Business Review. First English usage is by the British sociologist Roland Robertson. The term combines the word globalizationlocalization with . An example of glocalization in practice: for promotions in France, the restaurant chain recently chose to replace its familiar Ronald McDonaldAsterix the Gaul mascot with , a popular French cartoon character.

 - One of the seven fundamental value dimensions of Shalom Schwartz measuring the fitting in harmoniously with the environment.

Hegemony Antonio Gramsci- Term derived from the work of the Italian writer and political theorist   (1891-1937), which refers to the ability of a dominant group to exert or maintain control through a combination of overt and subtle mechanisms.

Hierarchy - One of the seven fundamental value dimensions of Shalom Schwartz measuring the unequal distribution of power in a culture.

High Context and Low Context Cultures - According to E.T. Hall (1981), all communication (verbal as well as nonverbal) is contextually bound. What we do or do not pay attention to is largely dictated by cultural contexting. In low-context cultures, the majority of the information is explicitly communicated in the verbal message. In high-context cultures the information is embedded in the context. High- and low-context cultures also differ in their definition of social and power hierarchies, relationships, work ethics, business practices, time management. Low-context cultures tend to emphasize the individual while high-context cultures places more importance on the collective.

Holocultural Analysis - A paradigm of research for testing hypotheses "by means of correlations found in a worldwide, comparative study whose units of study are entire societies or cultures, and whose sampling universe is either (a) all known cultures... or (b) all known primitive tribes" (Naroll, Michik, & Naroll, 1976).

Hybridity - Refers to groups as a mixture of local and non-local influences; their character and cultural attributes are a product of contact with the world beyond a local place. The term originates from agriculture and has for a long time been strongly related to pejorative concepts of racism and racial purity from western colonial history.

Imaginary Geographies
 - The ideas and representations that divide the world into spaces and areas with specific meanings and associations. These can exist on different scales e.g. the imaginaries that divide the world into a developed core and less developed peripheries or the imagined divide between the deprived inner city and the affluent suburbs. (Sibley)

Indigenous Peoples - Those peoples native to a particular territory that was later colonized, particularly by Europeans. Other terms for indigenous peoples include aborigines, native peoples, first peoples, Fourth World, first nations and autochthonous (this last term having a derivation from Greek, meaning "sprung from the earth"). The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates range from 300 million to 350 million as of the start of the 21st century or just under 6% of the total world population. This includes at least 5000 distinct peoples in over 72 countries.

Individualism - Individualism/Collectivism is one of the Hofstede dimensions in intercultural communication studies. He defines this dimension as: "individualism pertains to societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family." (Hofstede, 1991, p.51)

Integration - The bringing of people of different racial or ethnic groups into unrestricted and equal association, as in society or an organization; desegregation. An individual integrates when s/he becomes a part of the existing society.

Islamophobia - Fear and dread of Islam, which has been increasing particularly since September 11th 2001. The Runnymede Trust in 1997 identified 'closedopen' and '' views of Islam. Closed views see Islam as static and unchanging, as primitive, sexist, aggressive, and threatening. Closed views of Islam see hostility towards Muslims as 'normal' and are used to justify discrimination because no common values with other religions are admitted. Central to closed views, or 'Islamophobia', and propagated by the Western media, is the assumption that all Muslims support all actions taken in the name of Islam. Terrorists are called 'Islamic Fundamentalists' although Muslims see them as breaking Islamic law and they suffer from being associated with terrorists and murderers. Open views see Islam as a diverse and progressive faith with internal differences, debates and developments. Recognising shared values with other faiths and cultures Islam is perceived to be equally worthy of respect. Criticisms by the West are considered and differences and disagreements do not diminish efforts to combat discrimination while care is taken that critical views of Islam are not unfair and inaccurate.

Jet Lag
 - A temporary disruption of bodily rhythms caused by high-speed travel across several time zones typically in a jet aircraft. Typical symptoms are fatigue, insomnia. The world has 24 time zones, one for each hour in the day. A part of the brain called the hypothalamus acts as a kind of alarm clock to activate various body functions such as hunger, thirst, and sleep. It also regulates body temperature, blood pressure, and the level of hormones and glucose in the bloodstream. Thus, when the eye of an air traveler perceives dawn or dusk many hours earlier or later than usual, the hypothalamus may trigger activities that the rest of the body is not ready for, and jet lag occurs.

 - The study of non-linguistic bodily movements, such as gestures and facial expressions as a systematic mode of communication.

 - The word machismo-and its derivatives machista and macho, comes from the Spanish word macho, meaning "male" "manlyor" and refers to a prominently exhibited or excessive masculinity. Machistas firmly believe in the superiority of men over women and that women were created to stay home and be mothers and wives. In many cultures, from Latin America to Korea and to countries of the Muslim world, machismo is acceptable and even expected male behaviour. 

Market-Based States  - Modern states e.g UK, where the market is the dominant means by which land, labour, capital and goods are exchanged and has a major influence over social and political organization.

Masculinity - One of the Hofstede dimensions. Hofstede defines this dimension as follows: "masculinity pertains to societies in which social roles are clearly distinct (i.e., men are supposed to be assertive, tough and focused on material success whereas women are supposed to be more modest, tender and concerned with the quality of life)." (Hofstede, 1991, p. 83)

Matrilineage - Line of descent as traced through women on the maternal side of a family. In some cultures, membership of a specific group is inherited matrilineally. For example one is a Jew if one's mother (rather than one's father) is a Jew. The Nairs of Kerala, India are also matrilineal.

Meme - is a theoretical concept introduced by Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Genemimeme" in 1976. Meme is derived from a shortening of the Greek " (something imitated) and shortened so that it sounds similar to "gene". Meme refers to any unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice, idea or concept, which one mind transmits (verbally or by demonstration) to another mind. Examples of cultural memes are thoughts, ideas, theories, opinions, beliefs, moods, poetry, habits, dance, tunes, catch-phrases, fashions, ways of building arches. Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process broadly called imitation very similarly how genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leading from body to body via sperm or eggs.  A list of memetic concepts can be found here.

Meritocracy - A system of government based on rule by ability or merit rather than by wealth, race or other determinants of social position. Nowadays this term refers to openly competitive societies like the USA where large inequalities of income and wealth accrued by merit rather than birth is accepted. In contrast egalitarian societies like the Scandinavian countries aim to reduce such disparities of wealth.

Minority Group - A group that occupies a subordinate position in a society. Minorities may be separated by physical or cultural traits disapproved of by the dominant group and as a result often experience discrimination. Minorities may not always be defined along social, ethnic, religious or sexual lines but could be broad based e.g. non-citizens or foreigners.

Monochronic - E.T.Hall introduced the concept of Polychronic/Monochronic cultures. According to him, in monochronic cultures, people try to sequence actions on the "one thing at a time" principle. Interpersonal relations are subordinate to time schedules and deadlines.

More Developed Countries (MDCs) - Countries with significant competitive advantages in today's globalizing economy. They have well-developed, increasingly knowledge-based and strongly interconnected manufacturing and service sectors that provide a significant proportion of employment and contribute to significant national and individual wealth. In these countries indices such as literacy levels, incomes and quality of life are high and these countries exercise considerable political influence at the global scale. Examples are the UK, the US, Germany and France.

Multiculturalism - A belief or policy that endorses the principle of cultural diversity of different cultural and ethnic groups so that they retain distinctive cultural identities. The United States is understood as a "mosaicmelting pot" of various and diverse cultures, as opposed to the single monolithic culture that results from the "" or assimilation model. Pluralism tends to focus on differences within the whole, while multiculturalism emphasizes the individual groups that make up the whole. The term multiculturalism is also used to refer to strategies and measures intended to promote diversity. According to Wikipedia, the word was first used in 1957 to describe Switzerland, but came into common currency in Canada in the late 1960s.

 -  A symbolic system of institutions claiming sovereignty over a bounded territory. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "nation-statea sovereign state of which most of the citizens or subjects are united also by factors which define a nation, such as language or common descent. Japan and Iceland could be two examples of near ideal nation-states": .

New Economic Geography -  An economic geography that recognizes the importance of culture as an influence on economic processes and outcomes. This draws attention to the culturalization of the economy in contrast to the economization of culture.

New International Division of Labour (NIDL) - The global shift of economic activity that occurs when the process of production is no longer centered primarily around national economies.

Newly Agriculturizing Countries (NACs) -  Some low-middle income countries which have specialized in the export of high-value foods e.g. Brazil, Mexico, China, Argentina and Kenya.

Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs) -  Countries where there has been a relatively recent and significant shift away from primary activities such as agriculture towards manufacturing production e.g. South Korea and Mexico. In some cases the proportion of manufacturing production is similar to that of the more developed countries like UK or the US.

Nuclear Family - is a household consisting of two heterosexual parents and their children as distinct from the extended family. Nuclear families are typical in societies where people must be relatively mobile e.g., hunter-gatherers and industrial societies. 

One-World Culture
 - A belief that the future will bring development of a single homogeneous world culture through advances and links created by modern communication, transportation and trade.

Participant Observation
 - Technique for cross-cultural adjustment. This entails keeping a detailed record of your observations, interactions and interviews while living in a culture that is not your own. 

Particularism - One of the value dimensions as proposed by Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1997). It reflects the preference for rules over relationships (or vice versa). Particularist societies tend to be more flexible with rules, and acknowledge the unique circumstances around a particular rule.

Pastoral Nomadism -  A form of social organization that is based on livestock husbandry for largely subsistence purposes. Pastoral nomads are characterized by a high level of mobility which allows them continually to search for new pastures in order to maintain their herds of animals. First known nomadic pastoral society developed in the period from 6200 - 6000 BC in the Middle East.

Patrilineage - Line of descent as traced through men on the paternal side of a family each of whom is related to the common ancestor through males. Synonym is agnationmatrilineage and opposite is .

Peer Pressure - the influences that people of the same rank, age or group have on each other. Under peer pressure a group norm of attitudes and/or behaviours may override individual moral inhibitions, sexual personal habits or individual attitudes or behavioural patterns.

People of Color
A phrase that refers to non-white minority group members e.g., African Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and Native Americans. Sometime the term ethnic minority is used.

Personal Space
  - Humans desire to have a pocket of space around them and into which they tend to resent others intruding. Personal space is highly variable. Those who live in a densely populated environment tend to have smaller personal space requirements. Thus a resident of a city in India or China may have a smaller personal space than someone who lives in Northern Lapland. See also Proxemics.

Polychronic - The concept of Polychronic/Monochronic cultures was introduced by E.T. Hall. He suggested that in Polychronic cultures, multiple tasks are handled at the same time, and time is subordinate to interpersonal relations.

Power Distance - One of the Hofstede dimensions of national cultures. "The extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally" (Hofstede, 1991 p.27)

Power Geometry - The notion of Power Geometry is a product of globalization and refers to the ways that different groups of individuals interact at different scales, linking local development to national, international, and global processes.

Prejudice - Over-generalized, oversimplified or exaggerated beliefs associated with a category or group of people.  These beliefs are not easily changed, even in the fact of contrary evidence. Example: A French woman is in an elevator alone. She grabs her purse tight when an African young man enters. 

Proxemics - is the study of human "perception and use of space organised" (Hall 1959). Proxemics tries to identify the distance and the way the space around persons are "". In some cultures, people are comfortable with being very close, or even touching each other as a normal sign of friendship. In other cultures, touching and sitting/standing very close can cause considerable discomfort.

Protestant Work Ethic - a bible based value system that stresses the moral value of work, self-discipline, and individual responsibility as the means to improving one's economic well-being. Also known as the Puritan work ethic, the term was first coined by Max Weber, a German Economist and Sociologist in 1904. Many Europeans and Americans consider it as one of the cornerstones of national prosperity.

- A socially defined population that is derived from distinguishable physical characteristics, which are usually genetically determined. The most widely used human racial categories are based on visible traits e.g. skin colour and facial features, genes and self-identification. 

Racism - Theories, attitudes and practices that display dislike or antagonism towards people seen as belonging to a particular ethnic groups. Social or political significance is attached to culturally constructed ideas of difference.

Ranked Society  - A society in which there is an unequal division of status and power between its members, where such divisions are based primarily on such factors as family and inherited social position. This is in contrast with egalitarian society, which aims to minimise such unequal divisions.

Regional Inversion - is a process of radical change when the established order of territorial influence changes.  Through regional inversion, previously backward regions become predominant in a national context.  Lagging areas that emerge through this process eventually overshadow the influence of predominant regions. 

Religious Discrimination - Religious discrimination is treating someone differently because of what they do or don't believe. Religious discrimination is closely related to racism, but there are differences in how it is expressed and how it is treated in law. An example of religious discrimination by the state is non-Muslims being discriminated against in some Islamic states. In many countries legislation specifically prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in relation to hiring, firing and other terms and conditions of employment. Today, many western states forbid discrimination based on religion, though this is not always enforced. For example, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States of America, research conducted by the Level Playing Field Institute and the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut revealed that Muslims were rated very low relative to other racial, ethnic, and religious groups in terms of their fit in the American workplace. Adapted from source:

Rust Belt - A region of the North-Eastern USA roughly between Chicago and New York City that suffered substantial industrial decline, especially after the Second World War.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination
 - Sexual orientation discrimination is discrimination against individuals, couples or groups based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. Usually, this means the discrimination of a person who has a same-sex sexual orientation, whether or not they identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Acceptability of sexual orientation varies greatly from society to society. The Republic of South Africa is the first nation on earth to integrate freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation into its constitution. 

Shantytown - Neighbourhoods where poor migrants to cities live. Also called slum, favela, township.

Social Exclusion - The various ways in which people are excluded from the accepted norms within a society. Exclusion can be economic, social, religious or political.

Stereotypes - Stereotypes (or "characterizations") are generalizations or assumptions that people make about the characteristics of all members of a group, based on an inaccurate image about what people in that group are like. For example, Americans are generally friendly, generous, and tolerant, but also arrogant, impatient, and domineering. Asians are humble, shrewd and alert, but reserved. Stereotyping is common and causes most of the problems in cross-cultural conflicts.

Stigma -  A term describing the condition of possessing an identity which has been branded 'spoiled' or discredited identity by others. Examples of negative social stigmas are physical or mental handicaps and disorders, as well as homosexuality or affiliation with a specific nationality, religion or ethnicity.

Stratified Society - A society where there is an unequal division of material wealth between its members.

Sub-Culture - A part or subdivision of a dominant culture or an enclave within it with a distinct integrated network of behaviour, beliefs and attitudes. The subculture may be distinctive because of the race, ethnicity, social class, gender or age of its members.

Sun Belt  - Used for the major growth areas of the southern and western parts of the USA during recent years in contrast to the contracting and declining industrial base of the north-east (rust belt). The term has also been used in other parts of the developed world to describe dynamic regions, e.g. the M4 corridor in England.

Syncretism - Blending traits from two different cultures to form a new trait. Also called fusion. This occurs when a subordinate group moulds elements of a dominant culture to fit its own traditions.

 - is a strong social prohibition with grave consequences about certain areas of human activity or social custom. The term originally came from the Tongan language. The first recorded usage in English was by Captain James Cook in 1777. Some examples of taboo are dietary restrictions such as halalkosher or, restrictions on sexual activities such as incest, animal-human sex, sex with the dead etc.

Third World - A very vague term used to describe those regions of the world in which levels of development, applying such measures as GDP, are significantly below those of the economically more advanced regions. The term is increasingly seen as an inadequate description of the prevailing world situation since it fails to describe a significant amount of internal differentiation and development.

Transculturation - is a term coined by Fernando Ortiz in the 1940s to describe the phenomenon of merging and converging of different cultures. It argues that the natural tendency of people is to resolve conflicts over time, rather than aggravating them. Global communication and transportation technology nowadays replaces the ancient tendency of cultures drifting or remaining apart by bringing cultures more into interaction. The term "Ethnoconvergence" is sometimes used in cases where tranculturation affects ethnic issues.

Transnationalism  - Is the system of multiple ties and interactions linking people or organizations across the borders of nation-states and identified, for example, by flows of capital, images, information and people.

Tribe - A type of social formation usually considered to arise from the development of agriculture. Tribes tend to have a higher population density than bands and are also characterized by common descent or ancestry.

Uncertainty Avoidance
 - is one of the Hofstede dimensions, which he defines as "the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations." (Hofstede, 1991)

Universalism - One of the Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1997) dimensions describing the preference for rules over relationships (or vice versa). In a Universalist culture, a rule cannot be broken and is a "hard fact", no matter what the relationship with the person is. People in universalistic cultures share the belief that general rules, codes, values and standards take precedence over particular needs and claims of friends and relations. 

Urbanization - The process by which increasing number of people come to live in cities.

 - is a person attracted to everything that is foreign, especially to foreign peoples, manners, or cultures.

 - The belief that people and things from other countries must be superior. 

Xenophobe - is a person who is fearful or contemptuous of anything foreign, especially of strangers or foreign peoples or cultures.

 - The belief that people and things from other countries are dangerous and always have ulterior motives. Xenophobia is an irrational fear or hatred of anything foreign or unfamiliar.


  • Encyclopaedia Britannica,

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  • Wikipedia, web-based free encyclopaedia

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