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Socio Cultural Tradition Definition Essay

Socio Cultural Assessment Essay

Socio-cultural assessment is realising and understanding the way a child responds to challenges and change. Their responses and perceptions are based on the world in which they live. Their understanding of the world comes from the values and beliefs of the adults, community, socio-economic status, education and culture that surround them. (Mooney, 2000). When making an assessment on an individual child it is necessary to consider the background and culture in which they exist. Berger (2005), states that "human development results from dynamic interactions between developing persons and their surrounding society and culture." (p.45).

Every child is influenced by their own individual socio-cultural and historical environments. Infants are by nature attuned to engage with the social and cultural environment of their family and the wider community they live in. All environments are culturally constructed, shaped by generations of human activity and creativity, and fashioned by their complex belief systems. The way parents care for and teach their children is largely shaped by their cultural beliefs about what is appropriate and desirable, in terms of both goals of child development, and the means to achieve these goals. (Rogoff, 1990).

A socio-cultural perspective of learning promotes social interactions with more knowledgeable others, therefore extending children's capabilities. It is encouraged that knowledge from all cultures within the centre is shared rather than belonging to the individual. (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 1999). Te Whāriki believes that, "The early childhood curriculum supports the cultural identity of differences, and aims to help children gain a positive awareness of their own and other cultures". (Ministry of Education, 1996, p 16).

Active participation in these learning experiences will enable children to participate increasingly effectively as learners in their cultural communities, therefore allowing them to make better sense of the wider world they live in. (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 1999). Te Whāriki contribution goal 2 states, "Children develop a sense of "who they are," their place in the wider world of relationships, and the way in which these are valued". (MoE, 1996, p.68).

The socio-cultural perspective of development derives from the work of Russian psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, who held the view that children are products of their social and cultural worlds, and to "understand them we must comprehend the social, cultural and societal contexts in which they develop" (Berk & Winsler, 1995, p.1). Vygotsky believed that because cultures differ in the activities they emphasise, and in the tools they use, all human activity and mental processes lead to knowledge and skills that are essential for success within a particular culture. Adults or other community members guide children's participation in activities to promote the development and knowledge of these skills. (Berk &...

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Everyday we have images, symbols, signs, and impressions flashing before our eyes. Messages upon messages collide with our own sense of individuality and create the reality in which we perceive our existence. How do we process the enormity of information and comprehend the symbols of what each import or export of the message means? There are many theories that try to understand the broad nature of communication and how it applies to the individual or society but because of the complex nature of the topic, traditions are formed to help organize and explain different viewpoints and concepts. Robert Craig developed a model that labelled and separated the field of communication into seven traditions (Littlejohn & Foss 34). These are known as the semiotic, the phenomenological, the cybernetic, the socio-psychological, the socio-cultural, the critical, and the rhetorical traditions. Each tradition focuses on a different aspect or specialized area of communication and knowing each one gives new and sometimes conflicting viewpoints on why we relate and comprehend the information we absorb on a daily basis.

The semiotic tradition is one discipline that brings to light the importance of signs and symbols and how they come to represent ideas and concepts through our own experiences and perceptions. This comes to project the thought that through our own perception, we come to interpret meanings for objects that hold a symbolic presence rather than it merely being just an object of reality. Two main important attributes of this theory are the definitions of signs and symbols. A Sign meaning “a stimulus designating or indicting some other condition” and a symbol “designating a complex sign with many meanings, including highly personal ones” (Littlejohn & Foss 35). Signs, more so, are connected to an object in reality and symbols having more of a subjective realization. One person might look at a photograph of Asia and see a foreign and exotic landscape, whereas a person who has lived or travelled there might look at it completely different, as home or a place with specific memories or experience, despite the fact that it is the same image being shown. The meaning, according to to this tradition, therefore, is a bound relationship of three things (the object, the person, and the sign) as Charles Saunders dictates, calling it the Triad of Meaning (Littlejohn & Foss 35). To branch out a little further in semiotics, there are also three subdivisions that separate the vastness of this tradition: Semantics (what signs represent), Syntactics (relationships between signs), and Pragmatics (utility of signs) (Littlejohn & Foss 36). The semiotic tradition is important in the aspect that we are governed by icons, signs, and symbolic forms of information consistently. It is within the relationship between the symbols and us that tells us not to drink the bottle with the skull symbol on it or not to cross the street when the light is red.

The phenomenological tradition has a different focus than that of the semiotic. Its focus is more on the individual interpreter rather than the function and symbolic nature of the sign itself. People interpret messages and experiences by filtering the comprehension through their own values and understanding and therefore deciphering the world through this. An individual comes to know the world as they participate and engage within it and how they relate to an object is how they assess the meaning behind it (Littlejohn & Foss 37). This is why the process of interpretation is at the central point of this tradition, stating that it is literally what forms the reality of the information or existence for that individual (Littlejohn & Foss 38). Direct experience is therefore very important in this theory. The phenomenological tradition is also split into three schools of thought: classical phenomenology, the phenomenology of perception, and hermeneutic phenomenology. Edmund Husserl, considered the founder of modern phenomenology, held an almost controversial view that instead of seeing things through our own psyches, we should take ourselves away from our biases and see things in an objective way in order to be able to interpret the actual experience (Littlejohn & Foss 38). Many scholars disagreed and thus the phenomenology of perception came to be. This is the concept that says we only know things through our own experiences. Hermeneutic phenomenology is similar to this but goes a little bit deeper and connects communication and language more in depth.

Cybernetics is a little bit different than the previous two traditions. It examines the overall workings of communication in relation to systems. A system being “a system of parts, or variables, that influence one another, shape and control the character of the overall system” (Littlejohn & Foss 40). To put this in an easier way to understand, we’ll use an example of a classroom system. The relationships between the students and teacher, students and each other, subject matter, environment of the classroom, cultural diversity of students, and homework all come together to form a cycle of networks and connections. Basic system theory (the outside observations of the actual flow and structure of systems), cybernetics (the study centred on circular networks and feedback loops), general system theory (the relation of similarities of systems across other platforms), and second-order cybernetics (the affect the observer has on a system as well as how it affects the observer) are four variants of the cybernetic tradition. This tradition gives a great overview of how the system works but because of this, it does not take into consideration the smaller individual pieces and influences that interact with each other (Littlejohn & Foss 41). By understanding the cybernetic tradition in relationship to communication, it shows the intricate and elaborate network of possibilities that people adapt and are absorbed in.

The next tradition, socio-psychological, is linked very closely to the cybernetic tradition in the sense that even as individuals, we are more likely to adhere and accept any new communication that abides to already set systems of knowledge, beliefs, or values. The socio-psychological tradition stems from psychological theories and is focused heavily on the individual as a socialized entity, a part of a network of people, but still independent in their actions (Littlejohn & Foss 42). Trait theory, a major focus in this tradition, explores attitude and the connection between personality and one’s communication. It is easy to understand the collaboration between communication and psychology in the sense that one’s personality or psychological influence will impact how they react to certain messages, accepting them or being biased against them, and how they communicate their own values, in the form of coming across in certain stereotypical behaviour.

The socio-cultural tradition in comparison to socio-psychological tradition is the study of one’s relationship as a whole to a culture rather than individual differences. Reality is the sum of all the parts when viewing people as components and the influence the sum has on the individual (Littlejohn & Foss 43). To put this is lament terms, we are a product of how people see us and represent ourselves accordingly. How we present ourselves is how we wish to be perceived by other people and how they perceive us, although initial views might be stereotypical, is a direct instigator on how they act towards us and thereby reaffirming our identities.

The critical tradition is centered around very idealistic views. To be involved with the critical tradition, acquiring knowledge is not enough but action is also a very fundamental key value. Sociological change through communicate is essential as studies within this variation tend to pivot around the powers, oppressions, inequalities, and demographically different privileges of a society (Littlejohn & Foss 45). Marxism (study on economy and production in alliance to society), postmodernism (the emergence of the information age and powers of media), and feminist studies (the critique and study on gender roles, race and sexuality) are all main disciplines of the critical tradition. Usually theorists of these parties are involved in activist organizations and community groups, challenging standard norms and roles.

The seventh and final tradition in communication is the rhetorical tradition. Because of the use of human symbol use, many scholars broadly link this to where initially the discipline of communication came to be dating back to 5th Century BC Greece (Littlejohn & Foss 49). In a nutshell, rhetoric is “adjusting ideas to people and people to ideas” (Littlejohn & Foss 49) through the use of language and symbols. The art of persuasion is embedded within this section, as communication and information go hand in hand with educated societies and individuals.

Although all seven traditions outline and have depth in each specialized area of expertise, they themselves are connected together and each cannot survive on its own to explain all aspects of communication. Certain traditions clash against each other (semiotic and cybernetic) whereas others work together and help explain one another (cybernetic and socio-psychology) but nonetheless, they all form a puzzle that tries to piece together what communication is all about. Keeping this in mind, I find the socio-cultural tradition, in my experience, to be one of the most valuable when it comes to communication. Although individual traits do have a strong role in the act of communication, cultural influences such as family, society, media, and religion all create rules and regulations on what, why, where, and how we are to communicate and act. Slangs and terminology in different genres or cultures dictate a certain understanding of the particular group when used and can be a determining aspect on one’s identity. Even those who choose to not conform to these views, within their rebellion, are conforming to another set of rules established by society’s views on revolt or resistance. Because of the undeniable force and power of today’s media, with the bombardment of advertisements and targeted television shows, it is more crucial to understand socio-culturalism in the sense that our culture is being sold to us through these mediums.

In conclusion, the study of communication has many variables associated with it. Even within every tradition, there are subgroups, all attempting to explain the complexities on how we interact, communicate, interpret and explore our reality. From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep at night, we are apart of an intricate system of receiving and shipping ideas that govern, identify, and influence us as individuals and as a culture.

Works Cited

Littlejohn, Stephen W., and Foss, Karen A. Theories of Human Communication, Ninth Edition California: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008. Print.

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