Are We Too Sensitive about Cultural Appropriation?

It is an unsettled debate of the 21st century: how much of a problem is cultural appropriation and how does it work? Obviously, white people with dreadlocks are something scary in and of their own right, but what parts of foreign cultures are we allowed to celebrate and in which way?

Fashion and the Exotic

The biggest issue, it seems, stems from the majority of people in the modern western world appropriating cultural elements from the minorities, adopting their vernacular, recipes, outfits, and so on. The reason this kind of appropriation is offensive lies in its portrayal of the minority in question. If you decide to put on a Japanese yukata because it makes you feel cute and exotic, that may make a Japanese person uncomfortable.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with celebrating the culture itself. If you know the history and you fully support and understand the development of the culture and the significance of its distinguishing elements, you should be fine, provided this celebration is done in an appropriate setting.

For example, Macklemore is an American rapper that is aware of the fact that he is white and that his life is not that of most rappers. This does not stop him from making a career of rapping. Wearing baggy pants or sari when you have been invited for a simple cup of coffee, however, is not the way to go.

Does It Work Both Ways?

This is a common argument presented by people who feel that their rights of wearing what they want have been trodden on. This argument goes to ask whether it would be okay, then, to ask various minorities to stop wearing jeans. What we need to understand here is that the Caucasian population in the US roughly takes up more than half of all people in the states. The dominant culture inevitably incorporates some elements of the minority cultures it is in contact with and this is fine as long as this is not used trivially. Besides, it’s not the same to be proud of being Irish, Slav, or Italian, and to be proud to be white.

Overzealous Protection

Sometimes, people will get offended even if there is no reason for it, which isn’t to say that the cultural appropriation in itself is not offensive, but that there are sometimes overzealous protectors of foreign cultures, even when they don’t originate from the place of the culture.

For example, Avril Lavigne faced a public outrage in the US for her music video ‘Hello Kitty’ done in Japan, which her Japanese fans loved. The video was made with Japanese people, but some of Avril’s audience in the States got angry, believing that there are no foreign cultural elements that can be used without being offensive. This is a dangerous mindset that infringes on people’s creativity and expression, particularly in cases when the indigenous culture has no problem with the person in question using their elements.

Bottom Line

If you are driving a German car, wearing an Italian suit, and eating Belgian chocolate while listening to reggae, you are fine. Cultural elements between different cultures get mixed all the time. However, wearing a bindi without knowing what it means, or wearing cornrows to be cool should be off-limits. There is some grey area between the two and you may be called out by people who like to be confrontational.

Morals and Ethics

Have you ever wondered what is ethics and is there any difference between ethics and morals? The short answer is: yes, there are important differences between the two, they are not synonymous with each other, although they are often used interchangeably in everyday discourse.

Both morals and ethics endeavor to answer the variety of questions related to how to lead a good and virtuous life, how to treat other living beings, and how to base decisions on the right values. Both have normative content, prescribing how we should behave in various contexts.  


Morals include systems of values and beliefs that shape behaviour of an individual or a community and are usually derived from what is generally accepted practice. It ranges from personal conviction, values transmitted via formal and informal education, to values and beliefs about right and wrong that we share with members of our community based on tradition. Different historical periods and social groups have different morals.

For example, if I am a vegetarian because I believe that it is wrong to eat animals, this is a matter of my personal moral system of values. If my parents taught me that lying is wrong, and I adopt this as my value through education, this is also part of my morals that I share with my parents as well as with other members of my community.         


On the other hand, ethics is a philosophical discipline that analyzes morals from a theoretical perspective. Simply put, ethics studies morals, seeking to establish the basic and most universal principles of human moral behaviour and form a coherent and rational system out of these beliefs.

The main branches of ethics include virtue ethics, deontological and utilitarian ethics. Virtue ethics originated in ancient Greece and deals with the question of what are the basic human virtues. Kant is usually taken as the founder of deontological ethics, which deals with the question of duty and obligation in morals. Finally, utilitarian ethics developed by Bentham and Mill suggests that there is a link between what is considered good and what brings more happiness to the greater number of people.  

There is also applied ethics, e.g. in medicine, law, etc, seeking to apply general ethical principles to certain fields of human practice. Ethics is a theory, developed by experts who derive norms of behaviour from well-thought-out arguments and definitions.


To sum up, the most important distinction between ethics and morals consists in the fact that ethics offers a theoretical background for our moral judgements, and is based on rational arguments, whereas morals usually refers to a particular system of beliefs regarding right and wrong that is not theoretical, but rather inherited and spontaneously formed in the course of living within a particular community.

What is Business Culture and Why is it so Important?

What is business culture?

Business culture is the style or model followed by a company that defines how employees and managers at different levels of the hierarchy interact with one another, as well as how all employees of a company interact with customers. Some of the standards of a company’s business culture are formally written as company policy, although most are not.

For example, business culture could be the way that employees in the customer service department of the business interact with customers, or it could be the way which emails are formed and written between employees and managers. The business culture of the company is gradually formed over time and covers every interaction and communication that happens throughout the business, becoming a standard for communication within the company.

Why is it so important?

The business culture maintained by a company impacts the way that it is perceived by its employees, as well as the public. Business culture can make or break a company, with a good business culture helping to improve the efficiency of the day-to-day tasks of the organisation, and a poor one leading to the complete breakdown of communication within the organisation.

How you can improve your business culture

Below, we have outlined several methods that you can use to improve your overall business culture and therefore the efficiency and professionalism of your company:

Make employees aware of your desired business culture

To change your business culture, you must first make all employees in the company aware of your desired business culture, as well as what is wrong with the current standard. We recommend holding weekly meetings to outline the progress into achieving your desired business culture and giving your employees targets to help improve it.

Create formal documentation

You should also try creating and enforcing a formal documentation outlining the business culture you are trying to achieve. This will help give your employees a set of undebatable guidelines for how they should carry themselves and behave within the organisation. To effectively make sure employees are aware of this new company policy, you could host training sessions to outline what is involved in this new business culture and how they should go about meeting it.

Lead by example

Training all of your employees on your desired business culture can be very expensive and time-consuming. Another method for implementing your desired business culture is through leading by example. This method involves the managerial staff of your organisation behaving parallel to your desired business culture, with the hope that other employees within the organisation will follow suit.

Overall, business culture is an essential part of most businesses in the modern world,  forming the way that the entire business is run, as well as how it is perceived by the public.  Business managers should make a conscious effort to improve their business culture using the techniques we have listed above.


How our Idea of Well-Being is Shaped by our Culture

How come some people can’t go a day without eating pork while some groups of people completely avoid it? Some cultures prohibit gambling in all ways and in some it’s completely normal to search for a Harrah’s Casino promo code for 2019 during any time of night and day. Even the basic needs of people differ greatly from group to group.

So, what is ‘your culture’

Your culture is typically defined as your surrounding environment that you experienced throughout your development and is comprised of many factors.  Culture tends to vary between different countries and different areas all over the world, but can also vary between families living in the same country. Your culture ultimately ends up shaping and guiding your decision-making and belief systems later in life, this is a concept known as the internal working model.  For example, if a child has parents who are happily married, and they experience a stable, loving relationship during the development stage, then they will generally maintain a positive view of love and relationships later in life.

How it shapes your idea of well-being

Many studies have proven that your culture and upbringing shapes and effects your ideas and beliefs about well-being and happiness, below are some of the ways that culture can affect your beliefs about well-being:

Need for positivity

Different cultures around the world appear to have different beliefs and needs regarding positivity.  Most people around the world seek out positive experiences and dislike negative experiences or unwanted negative comments. However, some cultures place less emphasis on seeking out positive experiences than others. For example, a study found that members of the public in America often require two positive events to offset one negative event, whereas many countries such as Japan only required one positive event to offset a negative event and maintain a positive well-being.

Perception of gift receiving

In most western countries, gift-giving is seen as an act designed to bring positivity and happiness to the recipient. However, this is not the case across all cultures.  Some cultures, such as South Korea, do not necessarily see gift-giving as a positive and enjoyable act. In fact, a study found that many people in South Korea who receive a gift view it as a reminder that they are not doing enough for their community.  With a simple cultural variation, an act that is considered positive and often kind in one culture can be considered upsetting, if not offensive in another.

Collective happiness V Individual happiness

A final example of how your culture can affect your views on welfare is the way in which you perceive true happiness cultures can be one of two things, either collectivist (individuals are perceived as part of one large machine- the community), or individualistic (societies where individuals tend to place their own needs above the needs community as a whole). Studies have found that members of the public in collectivist societies tend to find true happiness when most people in a group are happy, whereas in an individualist Society, members of the public tend to find happiness when they themselves are happy rather than everybody else.

How To Overcome Culture Shock?

When subjected to an unfamiliar setting we have all felt a feeling of displacement. Whether it is when you see someone freely bet on their phone with the Borgata sportsbook promotions and to you that’s unfathomable, or somebody speaks openly about some things that are just not spoken about where you come from, or anything else. The extent to which we feel a culture shock is different for each individual. We have tried to get to grips with this phenomenon down to the details and we are not alone here because a number of anthropologists, sociologists and psychologist have been examining it since the 1950s.

Lysgaard (1955) outlined a U-curve that seeks to describe the degree of adjustment to the cultural circumstances over time. This simple pictorial representation has seen its use in corporate training regimes and even educational contexts. Elaborations and tweaks have been made to the original theory to this date but we cannot go through all of them because they are far too numerous. But first, let’s introduce the four phases of cultural adjustment.

On Honeymoon

To begin with, when a person is first exposed to an environment that is wholly new culturally it is called the honeymoon period – think about when you went on holiday, gap year, Erasmus program, mandate, work placement, etc. The initial exposure to the novel surroundings does not induce stress but rather entices the person to enjoy the area. Whatever dreams or expectations one has had about the place at first seem to be true or fulfilled. This period lasts from 0-3 months approximately.


Very shortly after the honeymoon period people have a tendency to enter a phase of crisis – they feel increased anxiety. The cultural differences are no longer perceived as exotic but rather are becoming a nuisance. Plenty of factors contribute to this stage such as: language barriers, public hygiene, congestion, cuisine, food quality, etc. This crisis tends to last between 3-6 months.


After the crisis period, the person becomes accustomed to the environment and slowly begins to adjust to his or her surroundings around 6-12 months. A possible reason seems to be that the subject begins to develop routines and increased knowledge of the area, eliminating uncertainty. Issues that used to be around are now solved with relative ease that pertains to everyday activities.


This phase is commonly called the mastery stage, when individuals begin to feel as if their surroundings have become ‘normal’. Sometimes dubbed the bicultural stage due to the person assimilating nuances from their environment more than ever before. This period naturally begins after a year or so. This is the rightmost tip of the U-curve that is higher than the left tip concerning the honeymoon period.


Interestingly, the phenomenon of reverse-culture shock suggests that this same process may occur for a person when they come back to their domestic environment. Cases include expatriates that have been away for a number of years and come back home yet still feel that familiar feeling of displacement. Culture shock usually addresses a single yet elusive concept, but hopefully the reader has seen, just as much as we have, the complexity of the phenomenon ripe for more interesting research.

Truth or Myth? Common Gender Stereotypes

The OHCHR defines gender stereotypes in the following way: “A gender stereotype is a generalised view or preconception about attributes or characteristics, or the roles that are or ought to be possessed by, or performed by women and men. A gender stereotype is harmful when it limits women’s and men’s capacity to develop their personal abilities, pursue their professional careers and make choices about their lives.” Continue reading “Truth or Myth? Common Gender Stereotypes”