In anthropology, what is culture shock?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In our world, there are many different cultures.  Different countries have different cultures and even different parts of different countries can have different cultures.  If we stayed our whole lives in our own native culture, we would never experience culture shock.  However, there are times when we have to live among people of a different culture.  When this happens, we can experience culture shock.  Culture shock can be defined as psychological disorientation that we experience when we have to operate in a culture that is very different from the one that we are used to.

Imagine that you are a man who was born and raised in Afghanistan.  Everyone you have known was Muslim like you.  You didn’t know anyone who had a lot of material goods.  Women and girls in your area of the country always covered themselves and did not talk to men from outside their family.  Now imagine that you have had to move to the United States.  You might well experience culture shock.  Now, almost no one that you meet is Muslim.  Everyone has a lot of material goods.  Women wear, to your mind, little clothing and act in ways that are shocking to you.  You would be likely to experience culture shock.  You would be psychologically disoriented because nothing would be as you expect it to be.

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