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LOCA GLOB ISBN 978-961-06-0301-6

9 789610 603016

The text on Local Attitudes & Global Perspectives emerged as a culmination of a series of classes on American Culture and Society. Besides focusing on the obvious topics, it mainly aims at shedding perspective on the dichotomies between large and small cultures (such as American and Slovenian). These often affect our perceptions and consequently shape our cultural attitudes. In light of my experience with both cultures, it felt suitable to re-

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-evaluate and include them to pursue the goal of a fresh and contemporary take on the subject matter. The text may serve as a text-book, or individual chapters may be used to illustrate certain points in an English language or culture class. It may provide some general and occasionally witty insights for those who wish to dig deeper and investigate contemporary American culture beyond the mere popular media content.

professor, holding a Master’s in Discourse Analysis and a PhD in Translation Studies. She has been affiliated with the English Department of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, for over 10 years, and with the Translation Department for another 10. Professionally and academically, she has been involved in research related to the concepts of global connectivity, in which the English language tends to assume an important position as the dominant lingua franca. Having lived in the UK and the US for a while, she has gained international experience and has expanded her perception of cultural as well as linguistic and other types of diversity, which proved to be an invaluable contribution in her investigations of global cultural trends and societal perspectives.

LARA BURAZER: LOCAL ATTITUDES & GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES

LARA BURAZER is a university

LARA BURAZER

LOCAL ATTITUDES & GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES

RE-EXAMINING (IMPLICIT) BELIEFS AND ATTITUDES – AN APPROACH TO TEACHING (AMERICAN) CULTURE Oddelek za anglistiko in amerikanistiko Ljubljana, 2020

22.3.2020 10:11:03


Lara Burazer

LOCAL ATTITUDES & GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES Re-examining (implicit) beliefs and attitudes – an approach to teaching (American) culture

Ljubljana 2020

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LOCAL ATTITUDES & GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES Re-examining (implicit) beliefs and attitudes – an approach to teaching (American) culture Tip publikacije/Type of publication: Univerzitetni učbenik/University textbook Avtorica/Author: Lara Burazer Lektorica/Proofreading: Maja Visenjak Limon Tehnično urejanje/ Technical Editor: Jure Preglau Prelom/Layout: Žiga Valetič Slike/Photos: DepositPhotos, Wikipedia © Univerza v Ljubljani, Filozofska fakulteta, 2020/University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, 2020 Vse pravice pridržane./All rights reserved. Založila/Published by: Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani (Ljubljana University Press, Faculty of Arts) Izdal/Issued by: Oddelek za anglistiko in amerikanistiko/Department of English Za založbo/For the publisher: Roman Kuhar, dekan Filozofske fakultete/Roman Kuhar, the dean of the Faculty of Arts Vodja Uredništva visokošolskih in drugih učbenikov/Head, Editorial department – Textbooks: Janica Kalin Oblikovanje naslovnice/Cover design: VBG d. o. o. Tisk/Printed by: Birografika Bori, d. o. o. Ljubljana, 2020 Prvi natis/First edition Naklada/Print run: 200 izvodov Cena/Price: 10,90 EUR

CIP - Kataložni zapis o publikaciji Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica, Ljubljana 316.7(73)(075.8) BURAZER, Lara Local attitudes & global perspectives : re-examining (implicit) beliefs and attitudes - an approach to teaching (American) culture / Lara Burazer ; [slike DepositPhotos, Wikipedia]. 1. izd. - Ljubljana : Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete, 2020 ISBN 978-961-06-0301-6 COBISS.SI-ID 304436736

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Contents

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Contents

Foreword ......................................................................................................................................................... 7 Preface ............................................................................................................................................................ 11 Part 1: Examining Expectations ........................................................................................................ 15 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 15 1.1 Culture and Expectations ..................................................................................................... 16 1.1.1 Scientific treatment of expectations ..................................................................... 16 1.1.2 What, then, is culture? ................................................................................................. 17 1.1.3 Perception and conceptualization of culture ..................................................... 19 1.2 Implications for teaching culture ....................................................................................... 20 1.2.1 The purpose of teaching culture ............................................................................. 23 1.2.2 Goals in teaching culture in ELT .............................................................................. 24 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 25 1.3 Establishing credibility .......................................................................................................... 25 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 28 1. 4 Teacher/student generation gap ......................................................................................... 28 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 30 1.5 Implications for teaching culture ....................................................................................... 30 1.5.1 The effects of the internet on culture .................................................................... 31 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 34

Part 2: The Contemporary Attitude to American Culture ................................................... 35 2.1 The challenges of teaching American culture ............................................................... 35 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 38 2.2 American exceptionalism ..................................................................................................... 39 2.3 The effects of exceptionalism .............................................................................................. 42 2.3.1 Political omnipresence ............................................................................................... 42 2.3.2 Economic omnipresence ........................................................................................... 44 2.3.3 Linguistic omnipresence ............................................................................................ 45 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 46

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Local Attitudes & Global Perspectives

2.4 The price of exceptionalism ................................................................................................. 46 2.4.1 Familiarity ........................................................................................................................ 46 2.4.2 Ownership ....................................................................................................................... 48 2.4.3 Judgment ........................................................................................................................ 49 2.4.4 Attitude ............................................................................................................................ 50 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 52

Part 3: The American Cultural Context .......................................................................................... 55 3.1 The backdrop to the American value system ................................................................ 55 3.1.1 Individual freedom & self-reliance ......................................................................... 56 3.1.2 Equality of opportunity & competition ................................................................ 57 3.1.3 Material wealth & hard work .................................................................................... 58 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 58 3.2 The concept of the American Dream ............................................................................... 59 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 60 3.3 Immigration to the United States of America ............................................................... 61 3.3.1 Geography and demographics ................................................................................ 61 3.3.2 Immigration policies ................................................................................................... 63 3.3.3 Immigration through Ellis Island ............................................................................. 64 3.3.4 Current (im)migration trends ................................................................................... 67 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 67 3.4 The basics of American economics ................................................................................... 68 3.4.1 Slavery .............................................................................................................................. 68 3.4.2 The immigrants of ‘rice’ and ‘potato’ cultures ...................................................... 70 3.4.3 State budgetary provisions ....................................................................................... 71 3.4.4 The private prison system .......................................................................................... 72 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 72 Project/Task ............................................................................................................................... 72 3.5 American statehood ............................................................................................................... 73 3.5.1 Independence ................................................................................................................ 73 3.5.2 Government ................................................................................................................... 76 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 77 Project/Task ............................................................................................................................... 78

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Contents

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3.6 Education .................................................................................................................................... 78 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 80 3.7 Cultural differences ................................................................................................................. 80 3.7.1 The concept of a washcloth ...................................................................................... 81 3.7.2 The ever-revolving door lock .................................................................................... 81 3.7.3 The size of elevators ..................................................................................................... 81 3.7.4 Household garbage processing .............................................................................. 82 3.7.5 Tax included in the price ............................................................................................ 83 3.7.6 Sidewalks: pedestrian & bike friendly ................................................................... 83 3.7.7 House slippers ............................................................................................................... 84 3.7.8 Ni se treba sezuvati ...................................................................................................... 84 3.7.9 Dovolj vina, hvala ......................................................................................................... 84 3.7.10 Gremo na sprehod? GreĹĄ zraven? ......................................................................... 85 3.7.11 Ali si laÄ?en? ................................................................................................................... 85 3.7.12 Neighborly envy & law suits ................................................................................... 85 Discussion points .................................................................................................................... 86 3.8 Global cultural perspectives .................................................................................................86

Final thoughts ............................................................................................................................................ 89 Bibliography ................................................................................................................................................ 91 Online sources ................................................................................................................................. 93

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Foreword

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Foreword

by highly respected colleagues and experts in the field of English language teaching, dr. Janez Skela (full professor at University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Department of English) and Rhonda Petree (lecturer at University of WisconsinRiver Falls, Department of English). ***** This eminently readable textbook by Lara Burazer is – as stated in the author‘s Preface – the result of several years’ teaching the American Culture and Society Course in the Department of English and American Studies at the Faculty of Arts, and enriched with her considerable first-hand experience of the American culture that is woven into the text. The author’s hands-on experience of ‘cultural immersion’ adds a lot of credibility to her text as it enables her to tackle the subject matter critically, objectively and authentically from both insider and outsider positions. Not only does the author’s personal ‘cultural immersion’ experience resonate throughout the text, but it also played a major role in choosing the approach to teaching culture upon which the textbook is based. What this book sets out to do is to provide insights into contemporary American culture, and not to give an accurate historical, geographical, social or economic background account of the USA. There is already a plenitude of reference materials available touching on contemporary American culture and society and containing factual (and especially statistical) information. Useful as such reference materials might be, they are in some respects out of date before they appear, making Uncle Google a more reliable source of information. This is not to say, however, that the cultural content of this textbook is not based on accurate facts; it only means that factual information has been kept to a minimum, and to what seems likely to have at least some permanence. Research on teaching culture has shown very conclusively that language and culture are inseparably connected. Consequently, the acquisition/learning of a second language is also the acquisition/learning of a second culture. This has important implications for different teaching contexts: it means that whenever you teach a language, you also teach a complex system of cultural customs, values, and ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. Although the research on teaching culture has drawn attention to the vital role of culture in language classrooms and defined culture as a fundamental part of the second language learning process, the major concern that remains is finding effective pedagogical practices for teaching it.

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Local Attitudes & Global Perspectives

Foreign language teachers have always been engaged with the teaching of the target culture, labelling it as the cultural component of language teaching. The various topics that were taught to learners as cultural – literature, arts, civilization, geography, history, customs, practices – may be positioned along the continuum ranging from “little-c” culture to “big-C” culture. In this two-dimensional, dichotomy-based, and somewhat elitist conceptualization of culture, big-C culture can be described as “Olympian culture” or “achievement culture”, i.e. the best there is in a society. The other end of the continuum, i.e. “little-c” culture, stresses the behavioural aspects of culture, and in particular its role in communication. In academic settings of language education, culture traditionally meant high culture with a capital C (e.g., Civilisation in France, Landeskunde in Germany, Civiltà in Italy). Gradually, however, this over-simplified two-dimensional framework proved inadequate due to its overworked conflict between “big C” and “little c”, and has been broadened to include culturally-influenced beliefs and perceptions. The broadening of the ‘little-c’ and “big-C” cultural framework prompted an approach for teaching culture through the theoretical construct of the 3Ps – Products, Practices, Perspectives. The most significant improvement of the 3P framework in comparison to its preceding concept of the “big C” and “little c” cultures is the expansion of the definition of culture to include “the philosophical perspectives, the behavioural practices, and the products – both tangible and intangible – of a society” (Dema and Moeller, 2012: 78). This triangular cultural framework represents how the three components (products, practices, and perspectives) are interrelated, and reflects “how the products and practices are derived from the philosophical perspectives that form the world view of a cultural group” (ibid.). In this context, cultural practices are “patterns of behaviour accepted by a society” or, in other words, “what to do where and when”, as well as other forms of procedural aspects of culture (e.g., rituals, different forms of discourse, etc.). Cultural products might be tangible (e.g., a sculpture, a painting, a piece of literature, etc.) or intangible (e.g., political system, a system of education, a dance, etc.). Cultural perspectives can be described as popular beliefs, values, attitudes, and assumptions held by the members of a target culture (ibid.). A major advantage of this re-conceptualized approach is that it shifts the focus of teaching culture to a study of underlying values, attitudes, and beliefs, rather than simply teaching and learning about cultural products and practices. As such, it promotes student motivation and engagement that can help challenge past stereotyped images and lack of intercultural awareness. A similar threedimensional approach to teaching culture is adopted by the Council of Europe’s FREPA – A Framework of Reference for Pluralistic Approaches to Languages and Cultures (Candelier et at., 2012), the only difference being the terminology used for the three components represented in the model: (1) products or knowledge/

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Foreword

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savoir, (2) philosophical perspectives or attitudes/savoir-être, and (3) behavioural practices or skills/savoir-faire. And this is the approach upon which the book is based, which is its main strength since, as stated earlier, culture teaching in academic settings traditionally meant delivering the “big-C” elements of (British and American) culture. The point of departure of this textbook is markedly different as it sets out to provide an insight into philosophical perspectives or attitudes of contemporary American society. In other words, it deals with the least tangible aspects of culture, i.e. underlying values, attitudes, and beliefs. And the challenge with cultural/ philosophical perspectives lies in the fact that values, beliefs, and attitudes are intangible, implicit and mostly subconscious, and therefore cannot be easily introduced by a teacher. By adopting such an approach, the author redirects the focus of teaching culture from merely transmitting and delivering cultural information to more constructivist and reflective pedagogical practices for teaching culture. Within this approach, the learners are seen as active constructors of knowledge and are placed in the role of inquirers who explore and uncover the hidden meanings embedded in a target-language culture, as well as in their own. Recognizing the importance of the underlying implicit philosophical perspectives or attitudes calls for the kind of pedagogical strategy that enables the students to “fish out” their subconscious and implicit beliefs, attitudes and values. In other words, besides the what and how about a culture, students also try to uncover the why. In this way, learners’ change of attitude becomes bi-directional, in the sense of confronting the views of their own culture and the target one. In doing so, the book aims to sharpen observation, encourage critical thinking about cultural stereotypes, develop tolerance, and increase cross-cultural understanding in general. All this will, in turn, de/centre learners from their own culture-based assumptions and create a space where the borders between Myness and Otherness are explored, problematized and redrawn (Scarino and Liddicoat, 2009: 21). The images of an onion or of an iceberg have often been used to describe the different layers or depths of culture. How many layers of the onion will be stripped away or how deep below the water’s surface the iceberg will extend, will depend on many factors. Cultural understanding is a long-lasting, ever deepening and highly personal process that can reach different levels, rather than a collection of titbits of cultural trivia, romantic clichés or distorted stereotypes. This book strips away many layers of obfuscation, and goes – in search of underlying beliefs, attitudes and values – far beneath the surface. Dr. Janez Skela, full professor Department of English Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana

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Local Attitudes & Global Perspectives

***** “How do Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?” “Why are Americans so patriotic?” “Why does the government allow people to own guns in the U.S.A?” I have been asked these and numerous other questions about American culture during my twenty years as a teacher of the English language. It is daunting to answer on behalf of over 300 million people who live in 50 distinctly different states. American citizens experience life in the U.S.A. entirely differently depending on their race, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and the region in which they live. And while an image of American culture is portrayed in movies and popular culture, this image is not a reality for many Americans. Nonetheless, American culture has a worldwide presence due to the entertainment industry, the 24-hour news cycle, and the expansive reach of American corporations. All of which is delivered through the medium of the English language. Because of its global reach, American culture deserves the academic consideration that Dr. Lara Burazer gives it in Local Attitudes & Global Perspectives: Reexamining (implicit) beliefs and attitudes - an approach to teaching (American) culture. Throughout her book, readers are encouraged to examine their own expectations about culture, to analyze the concept of “American exceptionalism,” and to consider the historical and economic factors that have contributed to American values and the American Dream. Dr. Burazer asks readers to think critically about these topics and to contrast them with their own cultural norms. Discussion questions at the end of each subtopic help direct thinking and class discussions. Dr. Burazer weaves together research, history, and her personal experiences to create an engaging and thought-provoking text. Experienced instructors, people new to teaching about culture, and students will all find ​Local Attitudes & Global Perspectives to be a valuable book that deepens and expands their understanding of American culture. Rhonda Petree, Lecturer Department of English University of Wisconsin-River Falls 2018-2019 U. S. Fulbright Scholar

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Preface

11

Preface

Dear reader, student, scholar The text before you is a culmination of a series of classes on the topic of American Culture and Society at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Faculty of Arts, Department of English. Having to design a curriculum for the American culture class made me gather all of my insights into the American culture and reevaluate all of my experiences in order to create a series of classes with a fresh and contemporary take on the subject matter. As a person born in the 1970s, and thus belonging to the Generation X, I have built my understanding of, and developed my attitude towards American culture on the impression that the USA is a powerful country, which can prove helpful in resolving global conflict. The USA was not in any sense a country or a culture that my generation would dislike or feel animosity towards. Quite the contrary. If anything, the USA was considered a hero and a savior in reference to the Second World War, which the generations of our parents and grandparents still had a vivid memory of and were not willing to let it slip into oblivion or have their descendants forget about it. Anything American was considered of great value. Even the smallest things, such as, for instance, hearing American English in the streets of Ljubljana, would have spurred a bout of admiration and awe. Knowing someone who has been to the States or was wearing something that was brought directly from the US would endow you with a feeling of great pride. Travel to the USA at the time was wishful thinking rather than a serious option, since it required a lot of paperwork, money and an invitation from a family member or a friend from the US, which not many of us had the privilege of having access to. There were addresses published in local newspapers and magazines of foreigners from all over the world who were seeking a pen-friend in Europe, or specifically Yugoslavia, and the American ones were extremely popular. In some respect, they represented the hope of maybe someday having the chance to visit the USA or even living the American Dream. This, of course, changed over the course of time. Slovenia won its independence from the former Yugoslav federation in 1991 and from then onward, politically and economically, things progressed in a different direction. Slowly, travelling to the USA was becoming more of a realistic option and, most importantly, a more affordable one. The attitude of admiration started to change. In the early 2000s, I had the opportunity to move to the USA for a couple of years with my family, which proved to be a valuable inter-cultural encounter, affording a plethora of experiences and insights into the American way of life. This kind of first-hand experience ensures a more critical approach to understanding

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LOCA GLOB ISBN 978-961-06-0301-6

9 789610 603016

The text on Local Attitudes & Global Perspectives emerged as a culmination of a series of classes on American Culture and Society. Besides focusing on the obvious topics, it mainly aims at shedding perspective on the dichotomies between large and small cultures (such as American and Slovenian). These often affect our perceptions and consequently shape our cultural attitudes. In light of my experience with both cultures, it felt suitable to re-

AMD_culture_book_naslovka_FINAL.indd 1

-evaluate and include them to pursue the goal of a fresh and contemporary take on the subject matter. The text may serve as a text-book, or individual chapters may be used to illustrate certain points in an English language or culture class. It may provide some general and occasionally witty insights for those who wish to dig deeper and investigate contemporary American culture beyond the mere popular media content.

professor, holding a Master’s in Discourse Analysis and a PhD in Translation Studies. She has been affiliated with the English Department of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, for over 10 years, and with the Translation Department for another 10. Professionally and academically, she has been involved in research related to the concepts of global connectivity, in which the English language tends to assume an important position as the dominant lingua franca. Having lived in the UK and the US for a while, she has gained international experience and has expanded her perception of cultural as well as linguistic and other types of diversity, which proved to be an invaluable contribution in her investigations of global cultural trends and societal perspectives.

LARA BURAZER: LOCAL ATTITUDES & GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES

LARA BURAZER is a university

LARA BURAZER

LOCAL ATTITUDES & GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES

RE-EXAMINING (IMPLICIT) BELIEFS AND ATTITUDES – AN APPROACH TO TEACHING (AMERICAN) CULTURE Oddelek za anglistiko in amerikanistiko Ljubljana, 2020

22.3.2020 10:11:03

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Local Attitudes & Global Perspectives. Re-examining (implicit) beliefs and attitudes - an approach t  

The text emerged as a culmination of a series of classes on American Culture and Society. Besides focusing on the obvious topics, it mainly...

Local Attitudes & Global Perspectives. Re-examining (implicit) beliefs and attitudes - an approach t  

The text emerged as a culmination of a series of classes on American Culture and Society. Besides focusing on the obvious topics, it mainly...

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