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Home » Saba Safdar: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Culture (Transcript)

Saba Safdar: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Culture (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript and summary of Psychology professor Saba Safdar’s TEDx Talk: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Culture at TEDxGuelphU conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio:


Saba Safdar – Professor of Psychology

A colleague of mine wants to start his talk by saying if I were American, I would start by telling a joke. If I were Japanese I would just start by apologizing. Given that I am English I would start by apologizing for not having a joke.

In my case, I am Iranian Canadian, so I thought to represent my Iranian side. I start with widely exaggerated claim as you see on the title.

And then I apologize for it to represent my Canadian-ness. Clearly you are not going to learn everything there is to know about culture in the next 15-20 minutes that I have.

But I’m going to talk about two aspects of how culture demonstrate itself, manifest itself in our everyday life, through communication and through a specific one, communication in terms of insult and humor.

So what is culture? It’s a fuzzy concept. It’s like water to fish. We have difficulty defining it, especially defining our own culture because it’s all we know.

There are dozens of definition that has been offered by social scientists in defining culture and this definition that I usually use it is given by one of the pioneers in the area of cross-cultural psychology Harry Triandis. He talks about it in terms of human made part of the environment. It is the tangible aspect of our environment is what we can see, the classroom we have built, the parks we have, the highways. That’s the material aspect of our culture but it’s also the subjective aspect of our culture.

It is how we perceive our social environment, how we function in our families, how we perceive our notion of self, the social norms, the marital laws, the educational framework, the legal system. We learn our culture through socialization of course. You are not born with a particular culture.

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