South Asian Culture
This module explores South Asian history, geography and diversity with regard to nationality, language, ethnicity and religion and how each of these elements contributes to South Asian culture, shared values and patterns of difference. It also examines U.S. mainstream culture in comparison and the impact on workplace and social interactions.
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Social History and Values
This diverse culture originates from seven countries, speaks 37 official languages and practices numerous religions. Bound by a history that has shaped its cultural norms, behaviors and values, South Asian family structure and kinship systems influence the way individuals behave and think at home and at work.
One important aspect driving South Asian communication styles is “knowing one’s place.” The value of prescribed roles creates expectations about what, where and when to communicate. In contrast, U.S. mainstream culture views personal communication as an extension of individual preference, temperament or personality.
Attitudes toward Authority
In South Asian culture, leaders are held accountable and responsible for all details that fall under their management. As a result, leaders expect to have a comprehensive understanding of all points and play a major role in all decisions made. In comparison, U.S. mainstream leadership style is more comfortable delegating authority.
Workplace position impacts when or how a person should act for South Asians. For example, person in a lower position would wait for a signal from his or her leader before speaking or taking action. This deference to authority would feel oppressive or submissive to a U.S. mainstream colleague.