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What is the relationship among culture, reality, and intergroup relations?

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The question suggests that it may be possible to operate under a set of conditions other than "reality." This is a philosophical perspective. "Culture" is never distinct from the real conditions of human life. Anthropology defines culture as both ideas and their material forms, and as something that is learned, shared, and transmitted between people. That is, culture is never completely psychological or "in someone's head."

Defining "reality" is part of the philosophical field of epistemology. This field addresses how perception provides knowledge and related beliefs about an external world—that is, all the things that we understand as being outside ourselves. There are numerous ways to understand externality and the possibility of objective reality, all of which are concerned in some way with the sensory character of perception. One must consider how anyone gains knowledge of anything external to oneself.

Both concepts effect interpersonal relations between individuals and groups because both are inescapable aspects of life. Our understanding of the senses is shaped by culture, which includes language. For example, color is one aspect of language and perception that varies widely. When it comes to interpretation of culture and sensory perception, there is even more room for cultural variation. A person raised in one culture might think a certain sound, such as speech, is loud, while another from a different cultural tradition would hear it as normal. The importance of group dynamics increases when one cultural group is larger or more powerful, because they may evaluate their own preferences as objectively true and the cultural differences of a smaller group as abnormal.

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When considering concepts like culture or reality, it's important to remember that there is no universality. That means that there is no single culture or single reality; rather, each society and group has its own system of values, traditions, and beliefs that shapes their view of the world.

In the United States, for example, there is an American culture, but underneath that there are many sub-cultures and groups whose beliefs and experiences of reality are different. This is critically important because it shapes the ways in which groups and individuals understand or engage with one another.

Imagine that you're a young white women who was raised in a wealthy New England suburb populated by mostly white people. In your culture, there is very little poverty or crime and the activities in which you participate are generally geared towards people like you. In this case, your culture is shaping your reality: people live relatively safe stable lives and their financial stability provides them with many luxuries.

In this case, your reality is no better or worse than anyone else's, but it can make things challenging when you encounter people from other cultures that are more racially or ethnically diverse or from different social classes. For these people, their culture has shaped a very different reality in which there might not be financial stability or safety, which can create a very different value or belief system.

In simple terms, your experiences with your culture have shaped your reality, which can be very different from the culture and reality of others. When these two (or more) groups come into contact with each other, there can be misunderstanding, arguments over whose culture is more valuable or "right," and many other challenges that accompany a clash in perspectives.

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