Although the world is made up of a myriad of cultures, peoples, and countries, there are several things that tie us all together. One of those would be the core values that each of us hold dear. Values related to affection, protection, subsistence, and many other basic human needs make the Earth one giant global village.
As early as the time of the ancient Greeks, it has always been held that no single person is ever born as a full member of a particular culture. Rather, every individual learns to become so after a period of assimilating the culture they are born into. A child’s development, therefore, takes an environment endowed with various elements in order to develop complete structure in a cultural sense. These elements include the very people in the child’s environment, those people’s shared practices and their shared ideas within the environment where the child grows up in. (Handbook of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Volume 2: Basic Processes and Human Development (2nd Edition) by John W. Berry, T. S. Saraswathi and Pierre R. Dasen)
Indeed, it takes a whole village to raise a child as declared by the African Proverb that Hillary Clinton popularized among Americans. In this context, the basic needs of food, water, shelter, energy, education, and many others are common across all human cultures and historical time periods, and can be differentiated as to how they are expressed from culture to culture. For instance, researchers have found how maternal workload is visibly lighter in families belonging to the lower castes in an Indian community, families from Nairobi who divided their time between their urban dwellings and their farmsteads; mothers who were proven to be more protective of their young sons and had fewer children where they lived in crowded apartments. Infants with more caretakers around tended to enjoy more immediate nurturing when they needed it while their own mothers, keeping their own careers and taken up with their personal daily activities, gave them less of that nurturing.
However, the differences between cultures are not the focus here. The goal here is to show the most basic and fundamental behaviors that are common among all cultures. Understanding these most basic similarities can help us when we meet people from different cultures. It is worth noting that there is a historical trend worldwide towards greater individual human rights.
What are the Top Values Common Among Cultures?
Manfred Max-Neef, working with his colleagues Martin Hopenhayn and Antonio Elizalde, advanced a classification of basic human needs and these are: Subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity, and freedom. From these basic needs arises a 36-cell matrix with the specific classifications under which all other related concepts have evolved: Qualities (being), things (having), action (doing), and interacting (settings).
Thus, under subsistence, we have: Physical and mental health (being); food, shelter, and work (having); feed, clothe, rest, and work (doing); and living environment and social setting (interacting).
Under protection, there is: Care, adaptability, and autonomy; social security, health systems, and work; cooperate, plan, take care of, and help; social environment and dwelling.
For affection, we take: Respect, sense of humor, generosity, and sensuality; friendships, family, and relationships with nature; share, take care of, make love, and express emotions; privacy and intimate spaces of togetherness.
The basic need of understanding guarantees: Critical capacity, curiosity, and intuition; literature, teachers, policies, and educational; analyze, study, meditate, and investigate; schools, families, universities, and communities.
This is just a sampling of what the 36-cell matrix presents. (See references here…)
What are the Common Boundaries for Prohibited Behavior in Cultures?
The common prohibited behaviors in cultures include: Murder; theft and robbery; assault; rape; forgery, impersonation, and cheating; offenses against the state, crown, or government (political offenses); offenses against religion and public worship; public order offenses; offenses against public morals and public policy. Behaviors that disregard individual rights and/or the rights of the state are condemned universally.
Has the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights been successful in protecting civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights?
Some countries consider sexual variations as hugely unacceptable. Thus, transsexuals and transvestites have no place in their societies while gays, lesbians, and those whose sexual orientation is deemed deviant are punished. Forms of sexual violence against children are tolerated in certain situations (mutilation of female sex organs) and are an integral part of many Middle Eastern, African, and Asian cultures. (See references here…). Adult sexual contact with children is widely and almost universally censured and condemned. (See references here… )
In some countries, practicing any form of religion is prohibited while in others, people are mandated to practice only a single state-mandated religion. (See references here…).
State practices such as those in Afghanistan have not permitted women to seek education or find work outside the home. Women are not even free to go outside their abode unescorted by a male family member. (See references here…).
Can Cultural Behaviors Cease to Exist?
The continued existence of cultures is enhanced by the nonverbal behavior in cultural practices. Once the interconnected conditions of culture are not maintained by the vital elements that make it up, or the individual elements do not participate to keep the outcomes and practices alive, cultural behavior will die down. Effective action, when taken with the physical environment, the individuals participating in culture’s survival, and unity between and among those individuals are the fundamental elements that keep cultural behaviors surviving. (See references here…)
Have There Been Universal Cultural Studies That Have Been Undertaken Throughout the World?
Many studies have been conducted seeking to rationalize how interpretation and comprehension of concepts are generated, diffused, and brought about from the various elements of a given culture (economic, political, and social), cultural studies have been performed all around the world. These studies have been meant to put together a number of components such as social and feminist theory, political theory, philosophy and history, literary theory, media theory, film, and video analyses. What has emerged from those cultural studies is the indirect form of government whereby imperial dominance by an implied powerful leader is accepted and followed by geo-politically subordinate states (hegemony). Agency also shapes human behavior in that it is the capacity of individuals to act autonomously and to make their own free choices. Studies on the universality of facial expressions, studies on the music industry and pop culture, cross-cultural child development studies and many others have been undertaken by researchers and psychologists to be able to gain a clearer comprehension of cultural commonalities.
What is the Difference Between Cultural Relativism and Universalism?
Universalism supposes that a single individual is to be considered a social unit with absolute rights. It forwards that individuals are entitled to pursue their own self-importance and superiority. Cultural relativism espouses that the community takes precedence over any single individual. Balance is achieved and guaranteed as long as every individual aligns their interests with the greater majority or the community. Imposing a universal system of human rights is impossible if modernization and the social changes it brings about are ignored or not fully understood.
Human rights have leaned more toward globalization (read: universalism) after the horrors of the war crimes during World War II. National borders do not dictate the human rights that can be enjoyed by people as opposed to those rights being dictated by culture. (See references here…)