Society And Social Life

Culture Shock

By Kalen Rasmussen

Culture shock was first used in 1958, as a term to describe the emotional roller coaster some people experience when they are emersed into a foreign environment. According to Diana Kendall author of Sociology In Our Times, culture shock is the disorientation that people feel when they encounter cultures radically different from their own and believe they cannot depend on their own taken-for-granted assumption about life. In other words, culture shock shows the lack of direction, a feeling of lostness, not knowing what to do or how to accomplish goals in this foreign environment, and not know how to act around those from the culture you are emersed in. Culture shock is both physical and emotional. Culture shock normally happens when a person goes to another country or a place that is different from what they are used to. A majority of the time the culture and norms a person is used to at home are not acceptable or seen as weird in this new place. Examples of this are language barriers, not being able to read or write this new language, and different money or banking systems.

There are multiple symptoms of culture shock. There are multiple symptoms can indicate culture shock. These symptoms can appear at many different times throughout the different stages of culture shock. Some individuals can even experience real physical pain, although it is rare. According to Dr. Carmen Guanipa there are a wide variety of symptoms of culture shock, which are listed below.

• Sadness, loneliness, melancholy
• Preoccupation with health
• Aches, pains, and allergies
• Insomnia, desire to sleep too much or too little
• Changes in temperament, depression, feeling vulnerable, feeling powerless
• Anger, irritability, resentment, unwillingness to interact with others
• Identifying with the old culture or idealizing the old country
• Loss of identity
• Trying too hard to absorb everything in the new culture or country
• Unable to solve simple problems
• Lack of confidence
• Feelings of inadequacy or insecurity
• Developing stereotypes about the new culture
• Developing obsessions such as over-cleanliness
• Longing for family
• Feelings of being lost, overlooked, exploited or abused

Culture shock has many stages. Stages can arise at any given time. The duration of each stage depends on a persons ability to cope with different situations. A person is likely to experience a wide variety of emotions including rejection, isolation, and assimilation. Sociologist have found that there are four stages of culture shock. These stages often overlap. The stages describe individuals who move to a foreign area and stay in that area for an extended period of time. The four stages of culture shock are 1. Excitement or Honeymoon stage 2. With drawl or Rejection stage. 3. Adjustment stage. and 4. Assimilation stage. These four stages make up the different levels of emotion a person experiences while enduring culture shock.

Excitement or Honeymoon Stage

Before leaving, and during the first days or weeks in which a person has relocated to a new region, that person is most likely going to go through a period of time where he or she experiences great joy and excitement. These emotions are comparable to the emotions a person experiences on their honeymoon. A period of time where people are usually fascinated and impressed by the exotic differences in culture and landscape. People will enjoy the differences in fashion, food, and social customs. This period of time of fascination and joy, in which a person discovers many new things, can last a few days to multiple weeks. Unfortunately, like all good things it will come to an end. This end is normally brought on by unavoidable difficulties that one will always experience in a foreign culture.

With drawl or Rejection Stage

After the over whelming sense of joy, excitement, and fascination subsides new feelings begin to swell up inside a person. These feeling usual include frustration, anger, and resentment. These unfavorable emotions are usual caused by difficulties with language, housing, friends, and the lack of understanding of the new culture. Tasks, that back home were easy, are now large obstacles that due to numerous barriers are toiling tasks that are very frustrating. Some of the barriers that stand in the way are, being an outsider in a new culture, misunderstanding of cultural cues, and lack of knowledge in regards to the local language. Due to the stress caused by these barriers a person often becomes discouraged, and feels disillusioned. Goals set during the honeymoon stage seem unobtainable. The with drawl or rejections stage is often the emotionally hardest stage to handle.

Adjustment Stage

After battling through all the toils of the with drawl and rejection stage there is the adjustment stage. The adjustment stage is only obtainable if an individual is able to set up a decent social support system. During the adjustment period a person begins to feel more relaxed and confident. Life becomes more routine and predictable. Thus getting rid of all those barriers that were being experienced at regular intervals. By this time most people have picked up enough of the local language to carry on the simple conversations, and communicate with-out help. This new found confidence allows an individual to feel less isolated, and the ability to enjoy life again. This stage can last from a few months to a couple of years.

Assimilation Stage

After an extended period of time and after a person has adjusted to their new environment they enter the assimilations stage. In the assimilation stage an individual often feels that this new place is now their home. The things that used to annoy and irritate a person now seem mundane. Also, now that you are acclimated to the area you can begin to connect features of your new environment to your old one. Many people often develop certain behaviors that are culturally unique to this specific area. The assimilation stage is the final step in the culture shock process.

Culture shock is a large psychological obstacle. At times it may seem insurmountable. But culture shock is also an opportunity to reassess a person objectives in life. It allows for the opportunity to develop new outlooks on life. It can also help a person to better understand themselves better, and stimulate personal creativity.

Guanipa,Carmen."Amigos-Culture Shock". Dept of counselling and school psychology. 1998. San Diego State University. 1 December 2009<
Kendall, Diana. Sociology In Our Times. 6th edition. United States: Thomsom Wadsworth, 2006.
Santoro Bellini, Mary Ann Ph.D. “The Four Stages of Culture Shock.” Square Mouth. Chris Harvey. 30 Sept. 2005. Web. 1 December 2009. <>
“Four Stages of Culture Shock.” Foreign Teachers Guide to Living and Working in China. Middle Kingdom Life, 2009. Web. 1 December. 2009. <>

"Lookism" in Korea
by Jeong-Ah Lee

"Lookism" is discrimination against or prejudice towards others based on their appearance.
The "Lookism" is all around in Korea now, because Koreans tend to judge a person by their appearance. Beauty is essential for women to get a good job and have a nice boyfriend or husband. Those facts make women to do something to their faces and bodies.
What`s the matter with their faces? Plastic surgery has become a trend in Korea these days. By research, 52.5 percent of a college women have had plastic surgery, and 82.1 percent of a college women want to get plastic surgery. It is extremely high number.


It wasn't too many generations ago that South Korean girls had no control over their looks. Korea's standard for beauty used to be in its naturalness. Dark, thick hair, fair skin, thin eyes without eyelids and red lips were considered the pinnacle of beauty.Their hair, for example, was considered a gift from their parents—never to be cut. But today, college girls drop into the plastic surgeon's office after their class. Even some of my friends already got their plastic surgery.

According to an online site, Medscape, “South Korea has the highest ratio of cosmetic surgeons to citizens worldwide.” It has become so common that girls will get eyelid surgery as high school graduation presents.

Where do they got influenced the most?
The involvement of the media in society has been growing. People act and behave according to what they see and hear.
The mass media has greatly influenced people’s way of thinking which began from 1883 to the late 20th century. Politically, Korean authorities had adopted a partial American forward foreign policy that tended to accept and adopt western, notably American, cultures without reservation. Within this policy American products were, for some time, considered being of highest quality and met with high demand.

So Korean mass media’s influence has a stronghold on women’s consciousness of beauty. These Korean women suffer from the obsession to be beautiful.

In Korea, they impossibly apply the same standards for beauty as the Western world does.
Koreans who had once stuck by "natural beauty" are now approving of "artificial beauty." TV commercials and magazines depict western beauty so commonly that a small face, slim figure, long legs, big eyes, fair skin and a sharp nose are becoming the new standard. And so Koreans are making what is biologically impossible into reality using medical techniques.

Also, Korea ranked third place in Asia countries plastic surgery by ISAPS(International Society of Aesthetic Plastic surgery).

Why do Koreans get plastic surgery?
1. They have an physical inferiority complex
2. They want to look good to get better jobs
3. Pressure from their parents

Why do non-Koreans think South Koreans get plastic surgery?
1. To make themselves feel happier
2. To become a celebrity
3. To look Caucasian

What do you get for having beauty in South Korea?
1. Well-paying jobs.
2. Finding a partner with good financial status
3. Getting respect

South Korean plastic surgery statistics
78% of Korean women in their 20s and 30s have undergone plastic surgery. Most of them were double-eyelid surgery.
25% of Korean mothers who have daughters between the ages of 12 and 16 suggested plastic surgery to their daughter.

What about Men?

Plastic surgery was once mainly a female domain, but men have increasingly been going under the knife around the world to improve appearances as a way to boost self-esteem and compete for jobs. South Korean men have begun to join in, so much so that local media write of men being gripped in a "plastic surgery craze."

In other hip cities, the stylish "metrosexual" look is being overtaken by the "ubersexual," a more macho breed whose straight sexual orientation is unambiguous. But in Seoul, the trend veers the other way, toward the "cross-sexual" — an androgynous form of beauty.

That type of pretty boy allure has gained renewed attention from the hit movie "King and the Clown," which became South Korea's all-time top-grossing movie in March with its story of an effeminate male jester at the center of a gay love triangle during Korea's Chosun empire. The trend of men seeking a nip and tuck reaches all the way to the president's office: Roh Moo-hyun had his eyelids done while he was on duty. The official reason his office gave was to correct a condition that could affect his sight.

According to a survey by AGB Nielsen Media Research and Men's Health, 86 percent of South Korean men between age 25 and 37 believe their competitiveness for jobs would be increased by having a good appearance and healthy body. More than 56 percent said they weren't satisfied with their appearance. The survey of 500 men had a margin of error above 4 percentage points.

References :
Culture shock - Essay: "Beauty: The Korean Way"
Korea's Obsession with Plastic Surgery
S.Korea Sees Boom in Male Plastic Surgery
Video :

Social Norms

By: Krisstal Kriss and Keesa Wright

Social norms are defined as expected behaviors within a society. They are established ways of doing something such as: the way you dress, talk, and even a persons physical appearance. Because cultures and people evolve, so must the social norms. Having said that, what was absolutely unacceptable years ago would most definitely be normal today.

There are many types of norms out there, such as prescriptive norms. These norms state which behaviors of people in a society are acceptable and what isn’t. For example, taxes are required or legal action will eventually be taken. On the other hand, there are proscriptive norms. These types of norms state what behaviors are unacceptable in society. For instance, laws set in place to keep a person from speeding and driving recklessly.

Other types of norms are informal and formal norms. Formal norms are actually written down for people to see and know the punishments for the offense that is taken. Laws are the most common type of formal norms. Furthermore, informal norms are not written in stone like formal norms, however, they are the standards of people’s behavior and are not lawfully enforced. They are simply frowned upon by the people of a society. These norms are some of the most simple and everyday things that you would never think to not do. For example, using deodorant, brushing your teeth, as well as showering, etc. These are “rules” that we think everyone should know and abide by, however, not everyone always plays by those “rules”. Most people would more than likely be disgusted while standing next to someone who has a terribly bad odor problem.


Mores are based more on cultural values rather than anything else. If somebody violates a more they tend to be shunned more by those in his or her culture or group. Violating something of your culture would cause there to be more of a consequence than an everyday norm violation.

In only one hundred years, social norms have changed much more than what any person would ever think of. For instance, in today’s society moving in with a significant other before wedlock would completely be acceptable. One hundred years ago, that would have never been acceptable whatsoever. People would have been astounded if someone would have broken this social norm one hundred years ago.

Breaking a norm is essentially what it says, breaking or doing something out of the ordinary than what most people see as the “correct” or “right” way of doing things. Today’s society doesn’t really allow very many social norms to be broken due to many more laws being established over time. However, there are still many social norms that are able to be broken without consequences still today. To illustrate, driving through a drive thru backwards isn’t exactly the “normal” thing to do, however, not problem causing or illegal. Another example would be choosing to walk up a busy escalator that is moving downward. Even something so small like wearing a bikini to work would catch somebody’s attention. They probably would not enjoy seeing what they saw, however, it is not a “rule” or law.

The people on the other side, however, have a few different ways of reacting to these “different” things. For instance, the first would be freaking out and running away from someone who just wants a simple hug. Another would be to begin to interact with the person as well. For instance, hugging them back as soon as they offer without hesitation. One more reaction would be just giving you that look of pure stupidity. The look that no one really wants to see. One last reaction would be that the person would break down with laughter along with you and your friends.

Over the years, social norms have changed in so many ways like everything else. Because of these changes in time breaking norms has became much easier through the years. Whether it be living with a significant other before wedlock or stealing somebody else’s groceries, it is all the same concept. Breaking social norms can be a comical event or a serious one with sever consequences that come along with it. Either way it usually is considered “different” in any society. Probably every person in their lifetime has broken some sort of social norm and or more at some point in their life whether it be critical to their culture or getting a simply laugh out of it.

Social Norms that are Broken
1. Driving through a drive thru backwards.
2. Paying in all change when going out to eat.
3. Walking UP and escalator while it moves DOWN.
4. Scooping a sidewalk before it snows.
5. Walking down the street wearing a gorilla costume just because.
6. Standing at a street corner hugging everyone you see.
7. Cutting in line.
8. Watching a blank T.V. and really getting into it.
9. Eat with your hands in a restaurant.
10. Standing incredibly close to someone while talking. Enter their “bubble”.
11.Wear opposite sexes clothing.
12. Girls shaving their legs in a public restroom.
13. Farting, picking your nose, and scratching body parts while on a date.
14. Taking groceries from another person’s shopping cart.
15. Standing while eating in a restaurant, sit on the floor, or under the table.
16. Wear a sombrero.
17. Put on your winter clothes and go to the beach with your friends and pretend to play beach volley ball.
18. Yell “FIRE” while deep into a movie at the theatre.
19. Frown when being introduced to someone new.
20. Wear jeans with holes in them with a sports bra to a prom formal dance.
21. Cheering people on for absolutely nothing.
22. Stretching in public.
23. Walking a stuffed dog.
24. Playing with Barbies at the age of 50.
25. Sniffing someone’s hair


Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times. 7 vols. USA: Cenage Learning, 2007.


By Seth Bredemeier

Will there ever be total equality between social classes? How does a family who lives in poverty become middle or even upper class? The gap between rich and poor slowly grows each year, making it harder and harder for a poverty stricken family to pull themselves out of debt. According to New Webster’s Dictionary Poverty is the condition or quality of being poor. This condition has plagued families across the world. Some are able change their lives and pull out of debt and make something for their family, while others are unable to get out. Poverty, an ascribed status which children are born and raised in is all that these children know. It’s hard for a child raised in poverty to ever come out of this lifestyle. Poverty is a lifestyle that stands at the bottom of the Stratification pyrimid.

A hidden social class system is actively involved in the lives of Americans and family’s world wide. This is a hierarchical arrangement of large social groups based on their control over basic resources is called Social Stratification. There are two types of Social Stratifications: the Caste System and the Class System. The Caste System is a system where a person’s statue is based on their parent’s ascribed characteristics. The rich, Middle and poor classes fall under this category, because the Caste System is based on the amount of wealth a person is born into. A Class System is a system that is based on ownership, or amount of controlled resources, or the type of workplace a person works in. A family that doesn’t have money isn’t going have many possessions, placing them at the bottom of the Class System. A Child born into a poor family with little or no money suffers at the bottom of both Social Stratifications. These two systems together place families in there respectable places of wealthy, middle class, or poor. While one family may have lots of money and be placed in the wealthy category due to the amount of money they have, they may be placed in middle class because they choose not to flaunt their money buying luxurious items.

While the middle and upper classes are able to support themselves, the lower class is unable to. A family of two or three is unable to survive on the two dollars and fifty cents a day, let alone a family with more members. These people need help in providing for their family, such as a shelter, food, clothing, and their health. Max Weber coined a term for these need called Life Chances (Kendall 210). Families stuck by poverty have poor Life Chances because they life in unhealthy conditions. They have limited access to daily hygiene products to keep themselves clean and healthy. Being deprived of these products they stand a greater chance of catching disease and a greater chance of dying from the disease. According to every three and a half second a person dies due to poverty. That totals up to be about 25.000 world wide deaths a day, due to limited or no access to these necessities. Should a nation’s Governments be accountable for these people?

However, this Social Stratification system is apart of our world as well. There are strong nations, nations in the middle and nations that fall in the lower class. These lower class nations are where we see a greater poverty rate than those in the middle and upper class, because their government is unable to support programs to help in need. This Class System of nations is called Global Stratification. Global Stratification refers to the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and prestige on a global basis, resulting in people having vastly different lifestyles, and life chances both within and among the nations of the world (Kendall 218). Where the more powerful and wealthy nations are in control and the smaller weaker nations are at the mercy of the stronger countries.

These stronger countries are called high income countries. These countries are highly industrialized and use enormous amounts of technology within there industries. High income countries also have a higher average income per household than the middle and lower income countries. A middle income country is just starting to become industrialized and people are moving to cities for jobs. The average income per household is also lower than high income countries. Low income countries are mainly agrarian nations with very little industrialization. The average income per household is significantly lower than the middle income countries. The gap between high, middle, and low income countries continuously increases where the poorest country is eighty percent lower than the richest. Poverty in these poorer countries is hard to over come because the reforms needed to turn the situation around aren’t possible.

Poverty is an issue that will for ever be a problem. As citizens we need to try and help support those who are trying to get back on their feet. Our government is trying to help them but getting laws pasted to support those in need is a timely process. Who knows maybe one day you will be that stranger on the street needing a boost.


Breen, John. “Hunger and World Poverty.” 13 Dec. 2009 < >.

Kendall, Diana.Sociology in Our Times the Essentials – Fourth Edition.Belmont, California:Wadsworth Publishing Company,2004.

New Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus of the English Language. Danbury Connecticut: Lexicon Publications, Inc.,1992.

Shah, Anup. “Causes of Poverty.” Global Issues. 7 Dec. 2009. Global Issues. 13 Dec. 2009. < >.

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The Homeless

It’s the 21st century, and as Americans, we are just getting over the worse economic depression since the Dirty 30’s. Almost everyone has been hit hard, maybe passed up getting a new TV or made an extra effort to find the discounted items at the store. While the upper and middle class residents cut their spending, one group was hit especially hard during these times. And this class is the lower class, specifically the homeless, who were already struggling and now just got kicked while they were already on the ground. So let’s briefly look at how we tend to view the homeless and who the homeless are, some reasons that there are homeless, and ways help the homeless.

In Jacqueline Wisemen’s study of Pacific City’s skid row, Wisemen found that homeless persons living on skid row evaluated living there in the run-down areas viewed it in a different light than those social workers who had to put up with the homeless persons. “On the one hand, many of the social workers “saw” skid row as a smelly, depressing area filled with men who were ‘down-and-out,’ alcoholic, and often physically and mentally ill. On the other hand, the men who lived on skid row did not see it in such a negative light. They experienced some degree of satisfaction with their ‘bottle clubs [and a] remarkably indomitable and creative spirit’…” (131) This quote does seem to indicate what the stereotype of a homeless person is in America a drunk, ill, male sitting on the street, beer bottle in hand. But in reality, this statistic is changing. A little more that 50% of the homeless population is single male(125), down from 60 percent in the 1990’s, but the growing population is centered with the families, that in 2004, was up to about 30% of the homeless population. Single women make up about 20% of the homeless population, while young kids without any supervision make up only a small percentage of the overall destitute population. When we look at race when it comes to being homeless, we can see that African Americans are the leading race to be homeless. No longer is the white man most likely to be homeless. African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population, although they are closely followed by the Caucasians who are at about 38%. Hispanics make up over 10% of the down-and-out population closely followed by Native Americans and then Asians, who make up about 2% of the population of homelessness. Although all of these races hold the titles of homeless, they hold other titles as well that we may know them by, including but not limited to substance abusers, mentally ill, disabled, and even veterans.

Now why, in a first world country, that is a capitalistic superpower in the world, do we have citizens that are poor, ill, and homeless sitting on our streets? The common and easy answer is that they are “lazy”. But realistically, according to the 1996 National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients 44% of homeless persons declared that they did work in the last month and the average income for homeless persons is $348, which is about half of the federal level in which people are considered poor. So an insufficient amount of income is partly to blame for why there is anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million homeless people. Domestic violence and the poor economy that America has are other reasons to blame for there being so many homeless people. Inflation in American is making the dollar worth less, and with more homeless people being families, it’s hard to provide food, let alone provide a shelter too.

So how can we help the homeless? Well, the first thing we can do is prevent homelessness from happening in the first place. Studies show that the longer one is homeless, the harder it is to break away from the homelessness, so preventing that from happening would be ideal. This can be accomplished by involving local governments. Unemployed persons could ask for unemployment support from the government. Additionally, one could use food banks as a way to use the community to help pay for at least one basic need. Second, we could take those who are already homeless and place them into shelters. Now, unlike in “The Pursuit of Happyness” we shouldn’t be okay with just setting up temporary housing and using that as a permanent basis to simply take care of the homeless. Low-cost housing can play a beneficial factor in helping homeless persons take the step from being homeless to being well on their way back up the financial ladder. A low cost shelter provides the basic need for any homeless person, and if kept under $100 per month, will allow families to live there even if they fall in that category of poverty-under $700 per month.

In conclusion, homelessness is in America, and it could affect anyone, whether they are African Americans or Caucasian, old or young, healthy or disabled. We need to stop being so stereotypical in believing that homelessness is just a sign of laziness. With 44% of those being homeless still trying to work, it is up to those of us who are better off to lend a helping hand through food banks, housing, or maybe just a few bucks here and a few bucks there to help a fellow citizen, a citizen, who could be just “down on his luck” and needing a little encouragement to get back on his feet.

Josh Memmelaar
Sociology 11:00 A.M.

Works Cited
1. Sociology in Our Times, The Essentials– 7th addition Diana Kendall p. 125, 131

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