Glossary of Intercultural Terms

Hugh Fox Intercultural Terms

Ableism – Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental, and/or emotional ability; usually that of able-bodied / minded persons against people with illness, disabilities, or less developed skills / talents.

Accessibility – The extent to which a facility is readily approachable and usable by individuals with disabilities, particularly such areas as the personnel office, worksite and public areas.

Acculturation – refers to the processes by which families, communities and societies react to inter-cultural contact while retaining characteristics of own culture. As a result a new, composite culture emerges, in which some existing cultural features are combined, some are lost, and new features appear. The earliest recorded western discussion of acculturation appears to be that of Plato in 348 BC. More than 100 different taxonomies of acculturation have been formulated since then. See also adaptation, assimilation, enculturation, syncretism and transculturation.

Acculturation Difficulty – A problem stemming from an inability to appropriately adapt to a different culture or environment. The problem is not based on any coexisting mental disorder.

Achieved Status – Social status and prestige of an individual acquired as a result of individual accomplishments (cf. ascribed status).

Achievement Gap (n.) – A term used to describe a persistent trend in the U.S. educational system in which white students achieve greater academic success than students of color. This term can also refer to the gap between girls’ and boys’ academic achievement.


Actor-Observer Effect – The tendency for actors to weigh any situation more heavily when explaining their behavior, while observers weigh the actor’s dispositions more heavily when explaining the same behavior.

Adaptation – is a process of reconciliation and of coming to terms with a changed socio-cultural environment by making “adjustments” in one’s cultural identity. It is also a stage of intercultural sensitivity, which may allow the person to function in a bicultural capacity. In this stage, a person is able to take the perspective of another culture and operate successfully within that culture. The person should know enough about his or her own culture and a second culture to allow a mental shift into the value scheme of the other culture, and an evaluation of behavior based on its norms, rather than the norms of the individual’s culture of origin. This is referred to as “cognitive adaptation.” The more advanced form of adaptation is “behavioral adaptation,” in which the person can produce behaviors appropriate to the norms of the second culture. Adaptation may also refer to patterns of behavior which enable a culture to cope with its surroundings.

Adaptation Level – Individual standards of comparison for evaluating properties of physical and social environment such as crowding and noise.

Adultism – Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions against young people, in favor of older person(s).

Advocacy View – of applied anthropology is the belief that as anthropologists have acquired expertise on human problems and social change, and because they study, understand, and respect cultural values, they should be responsible for making policies affecting people.

Advocate – Someone who speaks up for her/himself and members of his/her identity group; e.g., a woman who lobbies for equal pay for women.

Aesthetics – Appreciation of the qualities discernible in superior works of art; the mind and emotions in relation to a sense of beauty.

Affinal Kin – Persons related by marriage. Direct affinity is the relationship between the husband and his wife’s relations by blood or between the wife and the husband’s relations by blood. Collateral affinity is the relationship between the husband and the relations of his wife’s relations.

Affinals – Relatives by marriage, whether of lineals (e.g., son’s wife) or collaterals (e.g., sister’s husband).

Affinity Group (n) – Also known as employee networks, or employee-resource groups, affinity groups are groups of people who share a common interest. These entities can support organizational and business objectives by serving as liaisons between a company and the community.

Affirmative Action – Affirmative action” refers to positive steps taken to increase the representation of minorities (racial, ethnic minorities and women in general) in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded.

African American (n) – Of or related to African Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau defines black or African American as “people having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicated their race or races as ‘black, African American, or Negro’ or wrote in entries such as ‘African American,’ ‘Afro American,’ ‘Nigerian,’ or ‘Haitian.’ According to Census 2000, African Americans make up approximately 12.3% of the total U.S. population, and 12.9% including persons of mixed race.


Age Discrimination – is discrimination against a person or group on the basis of age. Age discrimination usually comes in one of two forms: discrimination against youth, and discrimination against the elderly.

Age set – Group uniting all men or women born during a certain historical time span.

Ageism – Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in age; usually that of younger persons against older.

Agent – The perpetrator or perpetuator of oppression and/or discrimination; usually a member of the dominant, non-target identity group.

Aggregate – Any collection of individuals who do not interact with one another.

Alaska Natives (n.) – Aboriginal peoples of Alaska, including American Indians, Eskimo, and Aluet peoples. Eskimo people, also called Inuit, are racially distinct from American Indians and are more closely related to peoples of East Asia.


Alien (n.) – The United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services define an alien as “any person not a citizen or national of the United States.” However, many people take offense at the use of this term because it places emphasis on difference. Preferable terms might be “immigrant” or “refugee,” and for those who have entered the United States illegally, “undocumented workers” as opposed to “illegal aliens.”


Ally – A person of one social identity group who stands up in support of members of another group; typically member of dominant group standing beside member(s) of targeted group; e.g., a male arguing for equal pay for women.

Alternative Medicine -Any form of medicine or healthcare practices which are not within the jurisdiction of the official health care delivery system nor legally sanctioned.

Altruism – A voluntary form of behavior motivated by a desire to improve another person’s welfare rather than the expectation of reward for oneself.

Ambient Environment – Changeable aspects of an individual’s immediate surroundings, e.g., light, sounds, air quality, humidity, temperature etc.

Ambient Stressors – Factors in the environment that contribute to the experience of stress.

Ambilineal – Principle of descent that does not automatically exclude the children of either sons or daughters.

Amerasian (n.) – A term that refers to individuals born in Asian countries whose biological father is a U.S. citizen. The Amerasian Act of 1982 granted permission to certain Amerasian individuals to immigrate to the United States. Those who qualified had to have been born in Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam after December 31, 1950, and fathered by a U.S. citizen. Family members such as children, spouses or parents, and guardians of the individual were also granted entry. Amerasian is not synonymous to Asian American or Eurasian.


American (n., adj.) – Of or related to the Americas (North, Central, and South America). This term is commonly misused as a synonym for U.S. citizens and residents, as well as their values, beliefs, and behaviors.


American Indian (n., adj.) – Of or related to American Indians. The U.S. Census Bureau defines “American Indians” as “people having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment. According to Census 2000, American Indians and Alaska Natives are approximately 0.9 percent of the total U.S. population, and 1.5% including persons of more than one race.  Native American is generally considered the more politically correct alternative to American Indian.


American Indian Movement (AIM) (n.) – AIM was founded in 1968 to act as proponent for Native American rights.


Americanization– Philosophy of immigrant acculturation in which immigrants expected to assimilate to the existing American culture even if this required loss of their original culture.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (n.) – On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the most sweeping legislation in the history of disability rights, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibiting discrimination against, and mandating equal opportunity for, persons with disabilities, in “state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.” The ADA defines a person with a disability as someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, who has a record of such an impairment.


Anchor – A reference point for making judgments. In social judgement theory, anchor is the point corresponding to the centre of the latitude of acceptance.

Androgynous – Someone who reflects an appearance that is both masculine and feminine, or who appears to be neither or both a boy and a girl.

Anglo or Anglo-Saxon (adj.) – Of or related to the descendants of Germanic peoples (Angles, . Saxons, and Jutes) who reigned in Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066.


Animism – is the belief that souls inhabit all or most objects. Animism attributes personalized souls to animals, vegetables, and minerals in a manner that the material object is also governed by the qualities which compose its particular soul. Animistic religions generally do not accept a sharp distinction between spirit and matter.

Anthropocentricity – The belief that humans are the most important elements in the universe and reality can be approached exclusively in terms of human values and experience.

Anthropology – The study of the human species and its immediate ancestors. Anthropology is the comparative study of past and contemporary cultures, focusing on the ways of life, and customs of all peoples of the world. Main sub-disciplines are physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, ethnology (which is also called social or cultural anthropology) and theoretical anthropology, and applied anthropology.

Anticonformity – Any behavior, which is directly antithetical to or contradicts group norms. Also called counterconformity.

Anti-Semitism – The fear or hatred of Jews, Judaism, and related symbols.

Apartheid – was a system of racial segregation used in South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s. Though first used in 1917 by Jan Smuts, the future Prime Minister of South Africa, apartheid was simply an extension of the segregationist policies of previous white governments in South Africa. The term originates in Afrikaans or Dutch, where it means “separateness“. Races, classified by law into White, Black, Indian, and Coloured groups, were separated, each with their own homelands and institutions. This prevented non-white people from having a vote or influence on the governance. Education, medical care and other public services available to non-white people were vastly inferior and non-whites were not allowed to run businesses or professional practices in those areas designated as ‘White South Africa’.

Applied Anthropology – The application of anthropological data, perspectives, theory, and methods to identify, assess, and solve contemporary social problems.

Appreciative Inquiry (n.) – Appreciative Inquiry is a way of thinking, seeing and acting for powerful, purposeful change. It operates on the assumptions that whatever one wants… already exists. Appreciative Inquiry generates images that affirm the forces that give life and energy.


Aquatic Ape Theory – This hypothesis or theory suggests that the ancestors of humans went through periods of living in aquatic settings and this was responsible for the development of many of the characteristics of Homo genus that are not seen in other primates. This hypothesis has been criticized as well as supported in mainstream paleoanthropology.

Arab (n., adj.) – Of or relating to the cultures or people that have ethnic roots in the following

Arabic- speaking lands –  Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. “Arab” is not synonymous with “Muslim.” Arabs practice many religions, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and others.


Arbitration – Third-party assistance to two or more groups for reaching an agreement, where the third party or arbitror has the power to force everyone to accept a particular solution.

Archaeological Anthropology (Prehistoric Archaeology) – The study of human behavior and cultural patterns and processes through the material remains and artifacts of that culture.

Archaeomagnetic Dating – A method of dating artifacts from the past. Sometimes also called paleomagnetic dating. It is based on the fact that changes in the earth’s magnetic field over time can be recorded as remnant magnetism in materials such as baked clay structure (ovens, kilns, and hearths used much earlier).

Archetype – the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a prototype. Also (in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.

Archival Research – Any study of data in records being studied, which were not collected specifically for the study itself.

Arousal – A state of physiological or psychological excitation.

Arousal/Cost-reward Model – A model of helping, which predicts that people will help if they are aware of a need for help, experience physiological arousal, label that arousal as a response to the victim, and decide that cost and reward favor intervention on their part.

Arranged Marriage – Any marriage in which the selection of a spouse is outside the control of the bride and groom. Usually parents or their representatives select brides or grooms by trying to match compatibility rather than relying on romantic attraction.

Ascribed Status – Social status which is the result of inheritance (cf. achieved status).

Asexual – Having no evident sex or sex organs. In usage, may refer to a person who is not sexually active, or not sexually attracted to other people.

Asian American – Of or related to Asian Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau defines “Asian” as “people having origins in any of the original peoples of Asia or the Indian subcontinent. It includes people who indicated their race or races as ‘Asian,’ ‘Indian,’ ‘Chinese,’ ‘Filipino,’ ‘Korean,’ ‘Japanese,’ ‘Vietnamese,’ or ‘Other Asian.’ Asian Americans are approximately 3.6 percent of the total U.S. population, and 4.2% including persons of mixed race.


Assimilation – is a process of consistent integration whereby members of an ethno-cultural group, typically immigrants, or other minority groups, are “absorbed” into an established larger community. If a child assimilates into a new culture, he/she gives up his/her cultural values and beliefs and adopts the new cultural values in their place. Originates from a Piagetian (Swiss Developmental Psychologist JEAN PIAGET, 1896-1980) term describing a person’s ability to comprehend and integrate new experiences.

Assimilation Effects – Shifts in judgments towards an anchor point in social judgment theory.

Assortative Mating – Nonrandom coupling of individuals based on resemblance of one or more characteristics.

Asylum (n.) – Protection sought in another country for fear of persecution in an individual’s

Attachment Theory – A theory of the formation and characterization of relationships based on the progress and outcome of an individual’s experiences as an infant in relation to the primary caregiver.

Attitude – Evaluation of people, objects, or issues about which an individual has some knowledge.

Attitudes – Internal dispositions involving affect or evaluation of people, objects, behaviors.

Attribution Theory – Attribution theory is a social psychology theory developed by Fritz Heider, Harold Kelley, Edward E. Jones, and Lee Ross. The theory is concerned with the ways in which people explain (or attribute) the behavior of others or themselves (self-attribution) with something else. It explores how individuals “attribute” causes to events and how this cognitive perception affects their usefulness in an organization.

Augmentation Principle – In Kelley’s attribution theory, the idea that the existence of difficulties in performing a behavior results in a stronger conclusion that the actor is the cause of the event.

Autokinetic Effect – A stationary light, when viewed in an otherwise completely dark room, would appear to be moving.

Availability Heuristic – The tendency to be biased by events readily accessible in our memory.

Baak Gwai – A derogatory term meaning “White devil” or “white ghost” used by the Chinese in Mainland China and Hong Kong to refer to Caucasians.

Baby Boomers (n.) – Term used to describe the generation born during the two decades following World War II, from the 1940’s through the ‘60’s, when the United States experienced a significant rise in birth rates.


Balance Theory – A theory of attitude change based on the principle of consistency among elements in a relationship. Psychologist Fritz Heider, proposer of this model suggested that unbalanced states create tension, so people try to reduce tension by changing some attitude.

Banana – Derogatory term for an East Asian person who is “yellow on the outside, white on the inside” used by other Asian Americans to indicate someone who has lost touch with their cultural identity and have over-assimilated in white, American culture.

Band -Basic unit of social organization among foragers. A band includes fewer than 100 people; it often splits up seasonally.

Bargaining – The process by which two or more parties attempt to settle what each shall give and take in their mutual transactions.

Barrio (n.) – The Spanish word for “neighborhood” that can also refer to a predominately Latino/Hispanic area of a neighborhood, city or town. In some contexts, “barrio” may refer to the inner-city or street culture.


Behavioral Cue – A stimulus, either consciously or unconsciously perceived, that elicits or signals a type of behavior. In other words it is a stimulus that provides information about what to do in a particular situation.

Behaviorism – A theoretical perspective, also called learning perspective, made famous by Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, B.F.Skinner, Edward Lee Thorndike, in which behavior is explained by external stimuli and learning processes.

Belief in a Just World – The tendency of people to want to believe that the world is “just” so that when they witness an otherwise inexplicable injustice they will rationalize it by searching for things that the victim might have done to deserve it. Also called the just-world theory, just-world fallacy, just-world effect, or just-world hypothesis, Famous proponent is Melvin Lerner.

Belief System – is the way in which a culture collectively constructs a model or framework for how it thinks about something. A religion is a particular kind of belief system. Other examples of general forms of belief systems are ideologies, paradigms and world-views also known by the German word Weltanschauung. In addition to governing almost all aspects of human activity, belief systems have a significant impact on what a culture deems worthy of passing down to following generations as its cultural heritage. This also influences how cultures view the cultural heritage of other cultures. Many people today recognize that there is no one correct belief system or way of thinking. This is known as relativism or conceptual relativism. This contrasts with objectivism and essentialism, both of which posit a reality that is independent of the way in which people conceptualize. A plurality of belief systems is a hallmark of postmodernism.

Bias – Prejudice; an inclination or preference, especially one that interferes with impartial judgment.

Bicultural– A degree of acculturation in which an individual is at an intermediate level of acculturation between two cultures.  ( usually the old and new cultures)

Biculturalism – The simultaneous identification with two cultures when an individual feels equally at home in both cultures and feels emotional attachment with both cultures. The term started appearing in the 1950s.

Biethnic – Of two ethnic groups: belonging or relating to two different ethnic groups. Usually used in reference to a person. For example: if a person’s father is French and mother English, she is biethnic though not biracial. See also biracial.

Big Man – In anthropology the most influential man in a tribe of horticulturalists and pastoralists; a person with power in a community. The big man usually occupies no formal office and has no coercive authority but creates his reputation through skills, wisdom, entrepreneurship and generosity to others. His wealth or his position may not pass to his heirs.

Bigendered/Dual Gendered (v) – A person who possesses and expresses a distinctly masculine persona and a distinctly feminine persona. Is comfortable in and enjoys presenting in both gender roles.

Bigotry (n.) – Intolerance of cultures, religions, races, ethnicities, or political beliefs that differ from one’s own.


Bilateral Kinship Calculation – is a system in which kinship ties are calculated equally through both sexes: mother and father, sister and brother, daughter and son, and so on.

Bilingual (adj.) – Of or related to proficiency in two distinct languages.


Bilingual Education – teaching a second language by relying heavily on the native language of the speaker. The background theory claims that a strong sense of one’s one culture and language is necessary to acquire another language and culture.

Biological Anthropology – is the study of human biological variation in time and space; includes evolution, genetics, growth and development, and primatology.

Biological Determinists – are those who argue that human behavior and social organization are biologically determined and not learnt.

Biphobia – The fear or hatred of homosexuality (and other non-heterosexual identities), and persons perceived to be bisexual.

Biracial – A person of two races. Usually, used to refer to people whose parents come from two different races, e.g., father is Chinese and mother English.

Bisexual (adj.) – attracted to members of either the male or female sex.

Black (n., adj.) – Of or related to persons having ethnic origins in the African continent; persons belonging to the African Diaspora. Some individuals have adopted the term to represent all people around the world who are not of white European descent, although this usage is not common. “Black” is often used interchangeably with “African American” in the United States.


Blaming The Victim – Process by which people enhance their belief in a just world by believing that people get what they deserve.

Bobo (n.) – Bourgeois bohemian is a recent term used to refer to the upper-middle and upper class sector of “Generation X” (children of the baby-boomers). Bobos are characterized as a highly educated, politically active, environmentally responsible, art friendly, well-traveled, and technology savvy group that has merged the pre-1950’s concepts of “bourgeois” with a new 1990’s “bohemian.”


Bottom-up Development – Economic and social changes brought about by activities of individuals and social groups in society rather than by the state and its agents.

Bourgeoisie – describes a social class of people who are in the upper or merchant class, whose status or power comes from employment, education, and wealth rather than from aristocratic origin. They are the owners of the means of production (factories, mines, large farms, and other sources of subsistence).

Bride Price -is the payment made by a man to the family from whom he takes a daughter in marriage.

Brown (n., adj.) – A term most often used to refer to people of Latino/Hispanic descent, or of the Latin American Diaspora (Mexico, Central and South America, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, as well as Latinos/Hispanics in the United States and Canada). Some individuals may use the word to refer to all people of color.


Bush Doctrine – The Bush Doctrine describes various foreign policy principles of United States president George W. Bush. According to this doctrine, the United States had the right to aggressively protect itself from countries that harbor or give aid to terrorist groups, which was used to justify the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Further, it contains the controversial policy of preventive war, which held that the United States should depose foreign regimes that represented a potential or perceived threat to the security of the United States, even if that threat was not immediate; a policy of spreading democracy around the world, especially in the Middle East, as a strategy for combating terrorism; and a willingness to pursue U.S. military interests in a unilateral way even without the sanction of allies or international bodies.

Bystander Effect – The finding that a person is less likely to offer help when in the presence of witnesses than when alone. The bystander effect was first demonstrated in the laboratory by John Darley and Bibb Latane in 1968

Capital – Wealth or resources invested in business, with the intent of producing a profit for the owner of the capital.

Capitalism – Economic or socio-economic system in which production and distribution are designed to accumulate capital and create profit. A characteristic feature of the system is the separation of those who own the means of production and those who work for them. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels first used the term Kapitalist in 1848. The first use of the word capitalism is by novelist William Thackeray in 1854.

Capitalist World Economy- The single world system, committed to production for sale, with the object of maximizing profits rather than supplying domestic needs. The term was launched by the US historical social scientist, Immanuel Wallerstein.

Caste System – A hereditary system of stratification. Hierarchical social status is ascribed at birth and often dictated by religion or other social norms. Today, it is most commonly associated with the Indian caste system and the Varna in Hinduism.

Categorization – The natural cognitive process of grouping and labeling people, things, etc. based on their similarities. Categorization becomes problematic when the groupings become oversimplified and rigid (e.g. stereotypes).

Catharsis – is a Greek word meaning “purification” or “cleansing“. Nowadays used to mean intense emotional release associated with talking about the underlying causes of a problem. In mystical traditions, catharsis is a process leading to the transcending of psychological, as well as spiritual, traumas and negativities. Used in modern psychotherapy, particularly Freudian psychoanalysis, to describe the act of expressing deep emotions often associated with events in the individual’s past which have never before been adequately expressed.

Caucasian (n., adj.) – Of or related to the Caucasus region, a geographic area between the Black and Caspian seas; a former racial classification that included indigenous persons of Europe, northern Africa, western Asia, and India, characterized by light to brown skin and straight to wavy or curly hair. In the U.S., “Caucasian” is often used interchangeably with “white.”


Charlie – Non-derogatory slang term used by American troops during the Vietnam War as a shorthand term for Vietnamese guerrillas. Shortened from “Victor Charlie”, the phonetic alphabet for Viet Cong, or VC. It was also a mildly derogatory term used by African Americans, in the 1960s and 1970s, for a white person (from James Baldwin’s novel, Blues For Mr. Charlie).

Chicano Movement (n.) – Mexican American individuals and organizations across the country united for the common purpose of increasing educational opportunities, workers rights for farm laborers, land allocation, and resources to Mexican American communities.


Chicano/a (n.) – A term adopted by some Mexican Americans to demonstrate pride in their heritage, born out of the national Chicano Movement that was politically aligned with the Civil Rights Movement to end racial oppression and social inequalities of Mexican Americans. Chicano pertains to the particular experience of Mexican-descended individuals living in the United States. Not all Mexican Americans identify as Chicano.


Chiefdom – Kin-based form of sociopolitical organization between the tribe and the state. It comes with differential access to resources and a permanent political structure. The relations among villages as well as among individuals are unequal, with smaller villages under the authority of leaders in larger villages; it has a two-level settlement hierarchy.

Civil Rights Movement (n.) – The Civil Rights Movement (n.) – The Civil Rights Movement is known as the events that took place between 1955 and 1965 when minority groups across the US sought their rights.


Clan – Form of unilineal descent group based on stipulated descent. A clan is a group of people united by kinship and descent, which is defined by perceived descent from a common ancestor. As kinship based bonds can be merely symbolical in nature some clans share a “stipulated” common ancestor.

Clash of Civilizations – is a hotly debated theory publicized by Samuel P. Huntington with his 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. He argues that the world has cultural fault lines similar to the physical ones that cause earthquakes and that people’s cultural/religious identity will be the primary agent of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Bernard Lewis first used the term in an article in the September 1990 issue of The Atlantic Monthly called “The Roots of Muslim Rage.”

Classism – Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in socio-economic status, income, class; usually by upper classes against lower.

Coalition – A collection of different people or groups, working toward a common goal.

Codification – The capture and expression of a complex concept in a simple symbol, sign or prop; for example, symbolizing “community” (equity, connection, unity) with a circle.

Collateral Household – is a type of expanded family household including siblings and their spouses and children.

Collectivism – Individualism/Collectivism is one of the Hofstede dimensions in intercultural communication studies. “Collectivism pertains to societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.” (Hofstede, G. (1991).

Collusion – Willing participation in the discrimination against and/or oppression of one’s own group (e.g., a woman who enforces dominant body ideals through her comments and actions).

Colonialism – The political, social, economic, and cultural domination of a territory and its people by a foreign power for an extended time.

Color Blind – the belief in treating everyone “equally” by treating everyone the same; based in the presumption that differences are by definition bad or problematic, and therefore best ignored (i.e., “ I don’t see race, gender, etc.”).

Communism – A political theory of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Communism is characterized by the common ownership of the means of production contra private ownership in capitalism. The Soviet Union was the first communist state and lasted from 1917 to 1991.

Complementary Medicine -Traditional or alternative health beliefs or practices which are brought into a healing practice to enhance the dominant healthcare modality.

Complex Societies – are usually nation states; large and populous, with social stratification and ccentralized forms of governments.

Consanguineal Kin – A blood relative. An individual related by common descent from the same individual. In most societies of the world, kinship can be traced both by common descent and through marriage, although a distinction is usually made between the two categories. The degree of consanguinity between any two people can be calculated as the percentage of genes they share through common descent.

Conspicuous Consumption – the excessive display of material items for the purpose of impressing others. People who make money very quickly or the noveau riche are often portrayed as doing this with unrefined taste. The term was first used by the American economist Thorstein Veblen, in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).

Contact Hypothesis – The original scientific motivation for integration of education and the armed forces, this theory posits that bringing peoples of different backgrounds together (on a college campus, for example) will lead to improved relations among them. Additional research has shown this to be true only under certain conditions including – sanction by authority, common goals, and equal status contact (both numerically and psychologically). (Allport, 1957)

Contact Zone – The space in which transculturation takes place – where two different cultures meet and inform each other, often in highly asymmetrical ways.

Core Values – Basic, or central values that integrate a culture and help distinguish it from others.

Corporate Culture -The fundamental philosophy of an organization is determined by its corporate culture. The behavior and actions of individuals within a corporation illustrate the existing culture of that organization.

Cosmology – Ideas and beliefs about the universe as an ordered system, its origin and the place of humans in the universe through which, people in that culture understand the makeup and the workings of all things.

Counterculture – is a sociological term used to describe a cultural or social group whose values and norms are at odds with those of the social mainstream. The term became popular during the youth rebellion and unrest in the USA and Western Europe in the 1960s as a reaction against the conservative social norms of the 1950s. The Russian term Counterculture has a different meaning and is used to define a cultural movement that promotes acting outside the usual conventions of Russian culture – using explicit language, graphical description of sex, violence and illicit activities. Counterculture in an Asian context as launched by Dr. Sebastian Kappen, an Indian Theologian very influential in the third world, means an approach for navigating between the two opposing cultural phenomena in modern Asian countries: (1) invasion by western capitalist culture and (2) the emergence of revivalist movements in reaction. Identification with the first requires losing own identity and with the second results in living in a world of obsolete myths and phantoms of the dead past. Thus discovering one’s own cultural roots in a creative and yet critical fashion while being open to the positive facets of the other. (Adapted from

Cross Cousins – Children of a brother and a sister.

Cross Cultural – Interaction between individuals from different cultures. The term cross-cultural is generally used to describe comparative studies of cultures. Inter cultural is also used for the same meaning. Whereas multiculturalism deals with cultural diversity within a particular nation or social group, cross culturalism is concerned with exchange beyond the boundaries of the nation or cultural group.

Cross Cultural Awareness – develops from cross-cultural knowledge as the learner understands and appreciates the deeper functioning of a culture. This may also be followed by changes in the learner’s own behavior and attitudes and a greater flexibility and openness becomes visible.

Cross Cultural Communication – (also referred to as Intercultural Communication) is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds try to communicate. As a science, Cross-cultural communication tries to bring together such seemingly unrelated disciplines as communication, information theory, learning theories and cultural anthropology. The aim is to produce increased understanding and some guidelines, which would help people from different cultures to better, communicate with each other.

Cross Cultural Communication Skills – refers to the ability to recognize cultural differences and similarities when dealing with someone from another culture and also the ability to recognize features of own behavior, which are affected by culture.

Cross Cultural Competence – is the final stage of cross-cultural learning and signals the individual’s ability to work effectively across cultures. Cross cultural competency necessitates more than knowledge, awareness and sensitivity because it requires the digestion, integration and transformation of all the skills and information acquired through them and applied to create cultural synergy within the workplace or elsewhere. This should be the aim of all those dealing with multicultural clients, customers or colleagues.

Cross Cultural Knowledge – refers to a surface level familiarization with cultural characteristics, values, beliefs and behaviors. It is vital to basic cross-cultural understanding and without it cross-cultural competence cannot develop.

Cross Cultural Sensitivity – refers to an individual’s ability to read into situations, contexts and behaviors that are culturally rooted and consequently the individual is able to react to them suitably. A suitable response necessitates that the individual no longer carries his/her own culturally predetermined interpretations of the situation or behavior (i.e. good/bad, right/wrong).

Cross Cultural Trainer – Those who train people to become familiar with other cultural norms and to improve their interactions with cultures to which these norms belong.

Cross Culture Counseling – generally refer to any counseling relationship in which two or more of the participants are ethnically different.

Cultivation Continuum – A term used in cultural anthropology. It is a continuum based on the comparative study of nonindustrial cultivating societies in which labor intensity increases and fallowing decreases.

Cultural Alienation – is the process of devaluing or abandoning one’s own culture or cultural background in favor of another.

Cultural Anthropology – The study of contemporary and recent historical cultures among humans all over the world. The focus is on social organization, culture change, economic and political systems and religion. Cultural anthropologists argue that culture is “human nature,” and that all people have a capacity to classify experiences, encode classifications symbolically and teach such abstractions to others. They believe that humans acquire culture through learning and people living in different places or different circumstances may develop different cultures because it is through culture that people can adapt to their environment in non-genetic ways. Cultural anthropology is also referred to as social or socio-cultural anthropology. Key theorists: Franz Boas, Emile Durkheim, Clifford Geertz, Marvin Harris, Claude Levi-Strauss, Karl Marx.

Cultural Boundaries – Cultural Boundaries can be defined as those invisible lines, which divide territories, cultures, traditions, practices, and worldviews. Typically they are not aligned with the physical boundaries of political entities such as nation states.

Cultural Competency -The ability to respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, classes, ethnic background and religions in a manner that recognizes and values cultural differences and similarities.

Cultural Components -Attributes that vary from culture to culture, including religion, language, architecture, cuisine, technology, music, dance, sports, medicine, dress, gender roles, laws, education, government, agriculture, economy, grooming, values, work ethic, etiquette, courtship, recreation, and gestures.

Cultural Construct – the idea that the characteristics people attribute to social categories such as gender, illness, death, status of women, and status of men is culturally defined.

Cultural Convergence – is an idea that increased communication among the peoples of the world via the Internet will lead to the differences among national cultures becoming smaller over time, eventually resulting in the formation of a single global culture. One outcome of this process is that unique national identities will disappear, replaced by a single transnational identity. Henry Jenkins, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA coined the term in 1998.

Cultural Cringe – refers to an internalized inferiority complex of an entire culture. This leads people of that culture to dismiss their own culture as inferior to the cultures of other countries. In 1950 the Melbourne critic A.A.Philips coined the term Cultural cringe to show how Australians widely assumed that anything produced by local artists, dramatists, actors, musicians and writers was inferior to the works of the British and European counterparts. The term cultural cringe is very close to “cultural alienation” or the process of devaluing or abandoning one’s own culture or cultural background in favor of another.

Cultural Determinists – are those who relate behavior and social organization to cultural or environmental factors. The focus is on variation rather than on universals and stresses learning and the role of culture in human adaptation.

Cultural Diffusion – The spreading of a cultural trait (e.g., material object, idea, or behavior pattern) from one society to another.

Cultural Dissonance -Elements of discord or lack of agreement within a culture.

Cultural Diversity – Differences in race, ethnicity, language, nationality or religion. Cultural diversity refers to the variety or multiformity of human social structures, belief systems, and strategies for adapting to situations in different parts of the world.

Cultural Evolution – Theories that have developed since the mid-19th century, which attempt to explain processes and patterns of cultural change. Often such theories have presented such change as “progress,” from “earlier” forms (“primitive”, “less developed,” “less advanced” etc.) to “later” forms (“more developed,” “more advanced“). These schemes usually have reflected the ethnocentrism of the theorists, as they frequently put their own societies at the pinnacle of “progress.”

Cultural Identity – is the identity of a group or culture or of an individual as her/his belonging to a group or culture affects her/his view of herself/himself. People who feel they belong to the same culture share a common set of norms.

Cultural Imperialism – is the rapid spread or advance of one culture at the expense of others, or its imposition on other cultures, which it modifies, replaces, or destroys-usually due to economic or political reasons.

Cultural landscape-The natural landscape as modified by human activities and bearing the imprint of a culture group or society including buildings, shrines, signage, sports and recreational facilities, economic and agricultural structures, transportation systems, etc.

Cultural Materialism – Is a theoretical approach in Cultural Anthropology that explores and examines culture as a reflection or product of material conditions in a society. Cultural materialism is a variation on basic materialist approaches to understanding culture. The Anthropologist Marvin Harris is a famous representative.

Cultural Norms – are behavior patterns that are typical of specific groups, which have distinct identities, based on culture, language, ethnicity or race separating them from other groups. Such behaviors are learned early in life from parents, teachers, peers and other human interaction. Norms are the unwritten rules that govern individual behavior. Norms assume importance especially when broken or when an individual finds him/herself in a foreign environment dealing with an unfamiliar culture where the norms are different.

Cultural Relativism – The position that the values, beliefs and customs of cultures differ and deserve recognition and acceptance. This principle was established by the German anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942) in the first few decades of the 20th century. Cultural relativism as a movement was in part a response to Western ethnocentrism. Between World War I and World War II, “Cultural relativism” was the central tool for American anthropologists in their refusal of Western claims to universality.

Cultural Resource Management (CRM) – is the branch of applied archaeology which aims to preserve archeological sites threatened by prospective dams, highways, and other projects.

Cultural Rights – is the idea that certain rights are vested not in individuals but in larger identifiable groups, such as religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous societies. Cultural rights include a group’s ability to preserve its culture, to raise its children in the ways of its ancestors, to continue practicing its language, and not to be deprived of its economic base by the nation-state or large political entity in which it is located.

Cultural Safety -A concept that originated with the Maori of New Zealand, that focuses on culturally –appropriate health care services, as well as improving healthcare access, inequalities in health, unequal power relations, and the social, political, and historical context of care

Cultural Sensitivity – is a necessary component of cultural competence, meaning that we make an effort to be aware of the potential and actual cultural factors that affect our interactions with others.

Cultural Traits -Distinguishing features of a culture such as language, dress, religion, values, and an emphasis on family; these traits are shared throughout that culture. -is the identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as her/his belonging to a group or culture affects her/his view of her/him. People who feel they belong to the same culture share a common set of norms.

Cultural Universal – General cultural traits and features found in all societies of the world. Some examples are organization of family life; roles of males, females, children and elders; division of labor; religious beliefs and practices; birth and death rituals; stories of creation and myths for explaining the unknown; “rights” and “wrongs” of behavior etc.

Cultural Universalism – Cultural Universalism is the assertion that there exist values, which transcend cultural and national differences. Universalism claims that more “primitive” cultures will eventually evolve to have the same system of law and rights as Western cultures. Cultural relativists on the other hand hold an opposite viewpoint, that a traditional culture is unchangeable. In universalism, an individual is a social unit, possessing inalienable rights, and driven by the pursuit of self-interest. In the cultural relativist model, a community is the basic social unit where concepts such as individualism, freedom of choice, and equality are absent.

Cultural values – The individual’s desirable or preferred way of acting or knowing something that is sustained over time and that governs actions

Culturally Competent Healthcare -Healthcare practice which recognizes the importance of cultural beliefs and practices in restoration and maintenance of health, and thus adapts, modifies and reorients perceptions and practices within a bio-medical setting in response to the cultural background of the patient.

Culture – The shared values, norms, traditions, customs, arts, history, folklore and institutions of a group of people. “Integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that is both a result of and integral to the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.” The etymological root of the word is from the Latin ‘colere‘ which means to cultivate, from which is derived ‘cultus‘, that which is cultivated or fashioned. In comparison of words such as “Kultur” and “Zivilisation” in German, “culture” and civilization” in English, and “culture” and “civilization” in French the concepts reveal very different perspectives. The meaning of these concepts is however, converging across languages as a result of international contacts, cultural exchanges and other information processes.

Culture of Poverty (n.) – The concept that the conditions of poverty (e.g., unemployment, out-of-wedlock births, teen pregnancies, welfare dependency, etc.) creates within individuals and groups a socially pathological state of mind that perpetuates these same conditions and eventually increases the number of dependents on the state. A culture of poverty assumes that there is a social, pathological or cultural deficiency inherent to members of certain groups that make them prone to being poor which may make the phrase offensive.


Culture Shock – A state of distress and tension with possible physical symptoms after a person relocates to an unfamiliar cultural environment. This term was used by social scientists in the 1950s to describe, the difficulties of a person moving from the country to a big city but now the meaning has changed to mean relocating to a different culture or country. One of the first recorded uses of the term was in 1954 by the anthropologist Dr. Kalervo Oberg who was born to Finnish parents in British Columbia, Canada. While giving a talk to the Women’s Club of Rio de Janeiro, August 3, 1954, he identified four stages of culture shock-the honeymoon of being a newcomer and guest, the hostility and aggressiveness of coming to grips with different way of life, working through feelings of superiority and gaining ability to operate in the culture by learning the language and finally acceptance of another way of living and worldview. (Source: American Anthropologist June, 1974 Vol.76 (2): 357-359.

Daily Indignity (n.) – Refers to the experiences of individuals and groups brought about by behaviors of members of the majority or dominant culture who may willingly or inadvertently assert their unearned privilege or power in a manner that offends discriminates against, or subjugates another individual.


Daughter Languages – are languages developing out of the same parent language; for example, French and Spanish are daughter languages of Latin or Bengali and Hindi are daughter languages of Sanskrit.

Debriefing – Open discussion at the end of a study or experiment when the researcher reveals the complete procedure and background to the subject and explains the reasons for any possible deceptions that may have taken place and were necessary for the success.

Deindividuation – A state of relative anonymity in which a member of a group does not feel identifiable or singled out.

Demand Characteristics – Explicit and implicit perceptual cues, which communicate what behavior is expected in any particular situation.

Demarginalization – The process which facilitates a marginal or stigmatized space becoming ‘normalized‘ so that its population is incorporated into the mainstream.

Denotation – The explicit meaning of a word or expression.

Dependant Variable – A measure of a participant’s responses in a research situation. In a scientifically controlled experiment, changes in the dependant variable are presumed to be caused by the independent variable.

Deportation (n.) – Forced removal of an individual who is not a citizen of the United States when that individual has been found to violate immigration law.

Descent Group – is a permanent social unit whose members claim common ancestry. Usually this is fundamental to tribal society.

Development Anthropology – is the branch of applied anthropology that focuses on social issues and the cultural dimension of economic development. Development here refers to the social action by institutions, private business, state, independent volunteers, who are aiming to modify the economic, technical, political or/and social life of a given place, mostly in developing nations.

Dialogue – “Communication that creates and recreates multiple understandings” (Wink, 1997); it is bidirectional, not zero-sum and may or may not end in agreement; it can be emotional and uncomfortable, but is safe, respectful and has greater understanding as its goal.

Diaspora – The term was originally used by the ancient Greeks to mean citizens of a large city who migrated to a conquered land with the purpose of colonization to assimilate the territory into the empire. Later the word was used to refer specifically to the populations of Jews exiled from Judea in 586 BC and from Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans. Now the term is used to refer to other population dispersals, voluntary and non-voluntary. The modern term evokes a sense of exile and homelessness.

Differential Access – refers to unequal access to resources, which is the basic attribute of different social structures from chiefdoms and states.

Diffuse – Diffuse/Specific is one of the value dimensions proposed by Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1997). It shows “how far we choose to get involved“. In a very diffuse culture, a large part of the life is regarded as “private”, where other persons without explicit consent have no access.

Diffusion – is the borrowing of cultural traits between societies, either directly or through intermediaries.

Diglossia – is the existence in a given society of two (often closely-related) languages, one of high prestige, which is generally used by the government and in formal texts, and one of low prestige, which is usually the spoken vernacular tongue. The high-prestige language tends to be the more formalized. For example in Pakistan, there is a diglossia between the extremely Persianised Urdu (used by the literary elite and the Government officials) and an Urdu that is very similar to Hindi spoken by common people.

Dimensions of Diversity – Dimensions of diversity in humans includes, but is not limited to: culture, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, geography, lifestyle, education, income, health, physical appearance, pigmentation, language, personality, beliefs, faith, dreams, interests, aspirations, skills, professions, perceptions, and experiences.

Discounting – In Kelley’s attribution theory, the tendency to reduce the importance of any one cause when other, plausible causes are present.

Discrimination – Treatment or consideration based on class or category defined by prejudicial attitudes and beliefs rather than individual merit. The denial of equal treatment, civil liberties and opportunities to education, accommodation, health care, employment and access. In many countries discrimination by law consists of making unjust distinctions based on:

Distinctiveness – In Kelley’s attribution theory, the extent to which the actor’s behavior differs in relation to different targets.

Distributive Justice – A proposition of social exchange theory in which one’s rewards should be in proportion to one’s investments.

Diversity – The concept of diversity means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing individual differences along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. Primary dimensions are those that cannot be changed e.g., age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race and sexual orientation. Secondary dimensions of diversity are those that can be changed, e.g., educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, parental status, religious beliefs, and work role/experiences. Diversity or diversity management includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong.

Diversity Council (n.) – An internal organizational structure whose purpose is to support and direct an organization’s diversity initiative. A diversity council can be made up of individuals who represent a cross section of the community or organization involved and is committed to the initiative. Also, instrumental in building support for a diversity initiative and implementing it successfully.


Diversity Initiative – Sets of policy, definitions, action-plans and steps to map out, support and protect diversity in different dimensions such as age, gender ethnicity etc in any organization, society or area.

Domestic Partner – either member of unmarried, cohabiting, and same-sex couples that seeks benefits usually available only to spouses.

Dominant Culture -There is usually one “dominant” culture in each area that forms the basis for defining that culture. This is determined by power and control in cultural institutions (church, government, education, mass media, monetary systems, and economics). Often, those in the dominant culture do not see the privilege that accrues to them by being dominant “norm” and do not identify themselves as being the dominant culture. Rather, they believe that their cultural norm.

Door-in-the-face Effect – A technique for eliciting compliance by making a very large initial request, which the recipient is sure to turn down, followed by a smaller request.

Dowry – A marital exchange in which the wife’s family provides substantial gifts of money, goods or property to the husband’s family. The opposite direction, property given to the bride by the groom, is called dower.

Drag Queen/King (n) – A man or woman dressed as the opposite gender, usually for the purpose of performance or entertainment. Many times overdone or outrageous and may present a “stereotyped image.”

Egalitarianism – Affirming, promoting, or characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people. One of the seven fundamental value dimensions of Shalom Schwartz measuring how other people are recognized as moral equals.

Embeddedness – One of the seven fundamental value dimensions of Shalom Schwartz describing people as part of a collective.

Emic Perspective (Emic View) – A term used by ethnographers or cultural anthropologists to refer to the insider’s or native’s view of his or her world, it is an attempt at understanding a culture from “inside,” from within its own frame of reference, from experiencing it as a participant (see also etic perspective).

Emotionalistic Disease Theories – Theories that assume that illness is caused by intense emotional experiences (e.g., the experience of Susto, which is a folk illness, specifically a “fright sickness” with strong psychological overtones among some Latin American populations). There are two other theories about the causes of illnesses – Personalistic disease theories blame illness on agents such as sorcerers, witches, ghosts, or ancestral spirits. Naturalistic disease theories explain illness in impersonal terms (e.g., Western biomedicine).

Enculturation – is the process whereby an established culture teaches an individual its accepted norms and values, by establishing a context of boundaries and correctness that dictates what is and is not permissible within that society’s framework. Enculturation is learned through communication by way of speech, words, action and gestures. The six components of culture learnt are: technological, economic, political, interactive, ideological and world-view. It is also called socialization. (Conrad Phillip Kottack, Cultural Anthropology)

Endogamy – is the practice of marrying within one’s own social group. Cultures that practice endogamy require marriage between specified social groups, classes, or ethnicities. Strictly endogamous communities like the Jews, the Parsees of India and the Yazidi of Iraq claim that endogamy helps minorities to survive over a long time in societies with other practices and beliefs. The opposite practice is exogamy.

Environmental Racism (n.) – The concept that members of certain groups are deliberately located in less-desirable geographic areas or that undesirable businesses, activities are deliberately located in range of or within neighborhoods of certain groups, particularly racial minorities and the urban poor.


Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) (n.) – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employment discrimination based on an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.


Equity (n.) – Fairness and justice, especially pertaining to rights and protection under the law.


Equity, Increased – is a reduction in absolute poverty and a fairer or more even distribution of wealth in a particular society or nation state.

ESL (n.) – (E)nglish as a (S)econd (L)anguage. A term used to describe language learning programs in the U.S. for individuals for whom English is not their first or native language.


Essentialism (n.) – The practice of categorizing an entire group based on assumptions about what constitutes the “essence” of that group (e.g., assuming that women are better nurturers due to something that is innate in their being). Essentialism prevents individuals from remaining open to individual differences within groups.


Ethnic Competence – The capacity to function effectively in more than one culture, requiring the ability to appreciate and understand features of other ethnic groups and further to interact with people of ethnic groups other than one’s own.

Ethnic Group – Group characterized by cultural similarities (shared among members of that group) and differences (between that group and others). Members of an ethnic group share beliefs, values, habits, customs, norms, a common language, religion, history, geography, kinship, and/or race.

Ethnic Minority Counseling– refers to any counseling situation in which the client is a member of an ethnic minority group.

Ethnic Slur – Is a term used to insult someone on the basis of ethnicity, race or nationality. Some derogatory examples are Flip (Western derogatory term used for Filipinos), Ginzo in US (for Italian Americans), Gweilo (“Foreign devil” or “white ghost”, term used by the Chinese to refer to Westerners), Paki (UK for a South Asian) etc.

Ethnicity – Belonging to a common group with shared heritage, often linked by race, nationality and language.

Ethnocentrism – Belief in the superiority of one’s own ethnic group. Seeing the world through the lenses of one’s own people or culture so that own culture always looks best and becomes the pattern everyone else should fit into.

Ethnography – A research methodology associated with anthropology and sociology that systematically tries to describe the culture of a group of people by trying to understand the natives’/insiders’ view of their own world (an emic view of the world).

Ethnology – Cross-cultural comparison or the comparative study of ethnographic data, of society and of culture

Ethnomusicology – is the comparative study of the music’s of different places of the world and of music as a central aspect of culture and society.

Ethnosemantics – is the study of meaning attached to specific terms used by members of a group. Ethnosemantics concentrates on the meaning of categories of reality and folk taxonomies to the people who use them. (Source: Cultural Anthropology. A.R.N.Srivastava. Prentice-Hall)

Etic – is the research strategy used by ethnographers that emphasizes the observer’s rather than the natives’ explanations, categories, and criteria of significance. Etic is the phase in the study of a particular culture, after having experienced it and participated in it first-hand, of “stepping back” and evaluating the experience into explanatory terms in one’s own culture (see emic perspective).

Eurocentrism (n.) –  The practice of using Europe and European culture as a frame of reference or standard criteria from which to view the world. Eurocentrism favors European cultural norms and excludes the realities and experiences of other cultural groups.


Exogamy – is the custom of marrying outside a specific group to which one belongs. Some experts hold that the custom of exogamy originated from a scarcity of women, which forced men to seek wives from other groups, e.g., marriage by capture. Another viewpoint ascribes the origin of exogamy to totemism, and claim that a religious respect for the blood of a totemic clan, led to exogamy. The opposite of exogamy is endogamy.

Expatriate – Someone who has left his or her home country to live and work in another country. When we go to another country to live, we become expatriates or expats for short.

Experimental Research – A research methodology used to establish cause-and-effect relationships between the independent and dependent variables by means of manipulation of variables, control and randomization. A true experiment involves the random allocation of participants to experimental and control groups, manipulation of the independent variable, and the introduction of a control group for comparison purposes. Participants are assessed before and after the manipulation of the independent variable in order to assess its effect on the dependent variable (the outcome).

Extended Family – The relatives of an individual, both by blood and by marriage, other than its immediate family, such as aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, who live in close proximity and often under one roof. Extended families are very common in collectivistic cultures. This is the opposite of the nuclear family.

F to M/FTM/F2M – Female to male. Abbreviation used to specify the direction of sex or gender role change, usually used by those who identify as transsexual.

Family of Orientation – Nuclear family in which one is born and grows up.

Fascism – A term used particularly to describe the nationalistic and totalitarian regimes of Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-45) and Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-45). Fascism is characterized by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over almost all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic. The fascist state also regulates and controls the means of production and takes all investment decisions. The word “fascism” comes from the fasces (rods bundled around an axe), which was the ancient Roman symbol of the authority of judges.

Faux Pas – (French word meaning false step) is a violation of accepted and unwritten, social norms. What is considered good manners in one culture can be considered a faux pas in another. For example, in Western societies it is usually considered a friendly gesture to bring a bottle of wine when invited to someone’s house for dinner. French hosts may consider this insulting as it implies that the hosts are unable to serve their own good wine.

Feminism (n.) – Theory and practice that advocates for educational and occupational equity between men and women and undermines traditional cultural practices that support the subjugation of women by men and the devaluation of women’s contributions to society.


Feminist Anthropology- Approaches to the study of culture that emphasizes the need to understand the gendered nature of human societies, and the gendered nature of social/cultural inquiry.

Feminity – Masculinity/Feminity is one of the Hofstede dimensions. Hofstede defines this dimension as follows: “femininity pertains to societies in which social agenda roles overlap (i.e., men and women are supposed be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life).” (Hofstede, 1991, p. 83)

Feudalism – Hierarchical social and political system common in Europe during the medieval period. The majority of the population was engaged in subsistence agriculture while simultaneously having an obligation to fulfill certain duties for the landholder. At the same time the landholder owed various obligations called fealty to his overlord.

First Nation – The indigenous population of Canada, excepting the Inuit or Métis people. The term came into common usage in the 1980s to refer mostly to Canada’s aboriginal people, most of who live around Ontario and British Columbia.

First Nations People – Individuals who identify as those who were the first people to live on the Western Hemisphere continent. People also identified as Native Americans.

Flip – Is a Western derogatory term used for Filipinos.

FOB (n.) – A derogatory term used to refer to recent immigrants to the U.S., meaning “fresh off the boat.”

Folk – means ‘Of the people’, originally coined for European peasants. It refers to the art, music, and lore of ordinary people, as contrasted with the “high” art or “classic” art of the European elites.

Functional Explanation – The study of social institutions by behavioral scientists on the premise that social customs can be explained by considering their function or role in society. Term originally used by A.R.Radcliffe-Brown (1933).

Functionalism – In the social sciences, specifically sociology and sociocultural anthropology, functionalism (also called functional analysis) attempts to focus on the ways in which social institutions fill social needs, especially social stability. Functionalism treats society as a living organism or a complex machine, the parts of which can only be understood as they function in the whole. Aspects of a culture or society are studied in the context of how they function in the larger processes of society; they may also be considered in relation to the key “needs” they serve in a given society (e.g. needs for subsistence, social law and order, etc.)

Fundamental Attribution Error – A common cognitive action in which one attributes his/her own success and positive actions to his/her own innate characteristics (“I’m a good person”) and failure to external influences (“I lost it in the sun”), while attributing others success to external influences (“he had help, was lucky”) and failure to others’ innate characteristics (‘they’re bad people”). This operates on the group levels as well, with the in-group giving itself favorable attributions, while giving the out-group unfavorable attributions, as way of maintaining a feeling of superiority. A “double standard.”

Gay (n., adj.) – A homosexual. This term was said to originate in Paris during the 1930’s and referred to the male homosexual underground community. The term was reclaimed during the


Gay Bashing (v.) – Term used to describe forms of harassment and hate crimes directed towards homosexuals, such as verbal and physical threats and assault and vandalism.


Gay Liberation Movement (n.) – The Gay Liberation Movement is generally understood to have begun at the start of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village of New York City. The catalyst for the riots was a police raid of a gay bar on Christopher Street, near the Stonewall Inn. The patrons decided to fight back and were quickly joined by others who supported “Gay Power.” Word and wake of the riot rippled through the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community and some individuals came together to form the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), which was politically aligned with gay rights and the anti-imperialist struggle overseas.


Gender – The socially constructed concepts of masculinity and femininity; the ‘appropriate’ qualities accompanying biological sex.

Gender (n.) – Sexual classification based on the social construction of the categories of “men” and “women.” Gender differs from one’s biological sex (male or female) in that one can assume a gender that is different from one’s biological sex.


Gender Bending (v) – Dressing or behaving in such a way as to question the traditional feminine or masculine qualities assigned to articles of clothing, jewelry, or mannerisms.

Gender Discrimination – Gender discrimination is any action that allows or denies opportunities, privileges or rewards to a person on the basis of their gender alone. The term ‘glass ceiling’ describes the process by which women are barred from promotion by means of an invisible barrier. In the United States, the Glass Ceiling Commission has stated that women represent 1.1% of inside directors (those drawn from top management of the company) on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.

Gender Identity (n.) – A term used to describe “a person’s internal sense of being male or female.”


Gender Roles – Norms that delineate the permissible behaviors of individuals of a given sex.

Gender Stereotypes – are oversimplified but strongly held ideas about the characteristics, roles and behavior models of males and females.

Gender Stratification – Unequal distribution of rewards (socially valued resources, power, prestige, and personal freedom) between men and women, depending on their different positions in a social hierarchy.

Gendered – Having a denotative or connotative association with being either (traditionally) masculine or feminine.

Genealogical Method – Procedures by which ethnographers discover and record connections of kinship, descent, and marriage in societies by using diagrams and symbols.

General Anthropology – The field of anthropology as a whole, consisting of cultural, archaeological, biological, and linguistic anthropology.

Generalized Reciprocity – is the principle that characterizes exchanges between closely related individuals. As social distance increases, reciprocity becomes balanced and finally negative.

Genetic Marker – Is a known DNA sequence of the human DNA. Genetic markers can be used to study the relationship between an inherited disease and its likely genetic cause.

Genitor – Biological father of a child.

Gentrification – The process by which middle- and upper class incomers displace established working-class communities. Gentrification may be small-scale and incremental (i.e. started by individuals) or be associated with major redevelopment and regeneration schemes by governments or public bodies e.g. Docklands and Notting Hill in London.

Ghetto (n., adj.) – Term used to represent the social and physical isolation of urban blacks, or communities of color in general, as well as the dire conditions these communities endure- densely populated slums, economic hardship, and racial discrimination in the central city.


Ginzo – Is a US derogatory term to refer to Italian Americans.

Glass Ceiling (n.) – Term used to describe the “unseen” barrier that prevents women and people of color from being hired or promoted beyond a certain level of responsibility, prestige, or seniority in the workplace.

Global Culture – One world culture. The earth’s inhabitants will lose their individual cultural diversity and one culture will remain for all the people.

Global Village – A term coined by Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s that refers to a world in which communication technology links people from remote parts of the world.

Globalization – A disputed term relating to transformation in the relationship between space, economy and society. The International Monetary Fund defines globalization as “the growing economic interdependence of countries worldwide through increasing volume and variety of cross-border transactions in goods and services, free international capital flows, and more rapid and widespread diffusion of technology“. Meanwhile, The International Forum on Globalization defines it as “the present worldwide drive toward a globalized economic system dominated by supranational corporate trade and banking institutions that are not accountable to democratic processes or national governments.

Green Card (n.) – Official documentation obtained by immigrants from the United States government that grants legal permission to work within the country.


Green Revolution – Agricultural development based on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, 20th-century cultivation techniques, and new crop varieties.

Gringo (n., adj.) – A derogatory term used in Latin American countries to refer to a foreigner, particularly one of (North) American or English descent.


Gweilo – A derogatory term meaning “Foreign devil” or “white ghost” used by the Chinese in South of Mainland China and Hong Kong to refer to Westerners.

Hapa – a Hawaiian language term used to describe a person of mixed Asian or Pacific Islander racial or ethnic heritage.

Harassment (n.) – Unwelcome, intimidating, or hostile behavior.


Harmony – One of the seven fundamental value dimensions of Shalom Schwartz measuring the fitting in harmoniously with the environment.

Hate Crime – Hate crime legislation often defines a hate crime as a crime motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.

Hazing (v.) – Verbal and physical testing, often of newcomers into a society or group, that may range from practical joking to tests of physical and mental endurance. This behavior is common among some U.S. fraternities and sororities.

Health-Care Systems – Beliefs, customs, knowledge and specialists concerned with ensuring health and preventing and curing illness; a cultural universal.

Hegemony – Term derived from the work of the Italian writer and political theorist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), which refers to the ability of a dominant group to exert or maintain control through a combination of overt and subtle mechanisms.

Helping Behavior – Prosocial behavior that benefits others more than the person. Different from prosocial cooperation, in which mutual benefit is gained.

Hermaphrodite (n) – An individual having the reproductive organs and many of the secondary sex characteristics of both sexes. (Not a preferred term. See – Intersex)

Heterosexism – The presumption that everyone is, and should be, heterosexual.

Heterosexual (adj.) – Attracted to members of other or the opposite sex.

Heuristics – Rules of thumb or shortcuts for making judgments for which we have insufficient or unverified information.

Hidden Transcript – A term used by James Scott to describe the coded critique of power by the oppressed that goes on offstage and in private, where the power holders can’t see it.

Hierarchy – One of the seven fundamental value dimensions of Shalom Schwartz measuring the unequal distribution of power in a culture.

High Context and Low Context Cultures – According to E.T. Hall (1981), all communication (verbal as well as nonverbal) is contextually bound. What we do or do not pay attention to is largely dictated by cultural contexting. In low-context cultures, the majority of the information is explicitly communicated in the verbal message. In high-context cultures the information is embedded in the context. High- and low-context cultures also differ in their definition of social and power hierarchies, relationships, work ethics, business practices, time management. Low-context cultures tend to emphasize the individual while high-context cultures places more importance on the collective.

Hispanic (n., adj.) – The U.S. Census Bureau defines Hispanics as “those people who classified themselves in one of the specific Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino categories listed on the Census 2000 questionnaire (Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, or Cuban.


Historical Linguistics – also called diachronic linguistics, is the study of how and why languages change.

Holistic – Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. Interested in the whole of the human condition: past, present, and future; biology, society, language, and culture.

Holocultural Analysis – A paradigm of research for testing hypotheses “by means of correlations found in a worldwide, comparative study whose units of study are entire societies or cultures, and whose sampling universe is either (a) all known cultures… or (b) all known primitive tribes” (Naroll, Michik, & Naroll, 1976).

Homeworkers – People who do paid work from their own homes.

Homophobia – The fear or hatred of homosexuality (and other non-heterosexual identities), and persons perceived to be gay or lesbian.

Homosexual – (adj.) attracted to members of the same sex. (Not a preferred term. See – Gay, Lesbian)

Horticulture – The science or art of cultivating fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants. In behavioral sciences, nonindustrial system of plant cultivation in which plots lie fallow for varying lengths of time.

Human Rights – Human rights refers to the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans irrespective of countries, cultures, politics, languages, skin color and religions are entitled. Examples of human rights are the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law, the right to participate in culture, the right to work, the right to hold religious beliefs without persecution, and to not be enslaved, or imprisoned without charge and the right to education.

Hybridity – Refers to groups as a mixture of local and non-local influences; their character and cultural attributes are a product of contact with the world beyond a local place. The term originates from agriculture and has for a long time been strongly related to pejorative concepts of racism and racial purity from western colonial history.

Hyperdescent – is the practice of determining the lineage of a child of mixed race ancestry by assigning the child the race of his more socially dominant parent (opposite of Hypodescent).

Hypodescent – A social rule that automatically places the children of a union or mating between members of different socioeconomic groups in the less-privileged group. In its most extreme form in the United States, hypodescent came to be known as the “one drop rule,” meaning that if a person had one drop of black blood, he was considered black. The opposite of hypodescent is hyperdescent.

Hypothesis – Tentative description of a relationship between variables or that such a relationship exists. In research some scientific method is used to test (in order to prove or disprove) a hypothesis.

Identity Group (n.) – A particular group, culture, or community with which an individual identifies or shares a sense of belonging.


Ideology (n.) – The way in which a given society “talks and thinks about itself.” Ideology can also be thought of as a shared belief system in which the knowledge shared is considered unquestionable “common sense,” knowledge that seems “obvious and natural” regardless of societal reality.


Illegal Alien (n.) – The official term used by the United States Federal Government to refer to citizens of foreign countries whose entry into the United States is prohibited by law, or those who reside in the United States without evidence of legal documentation where permission for entrance has been granted.


Imaginary Geographies – The ideas and representations that divide the world into spaces and areas with specific meanings and associations. These can exist on different scales e.g. the imaginaries that divide the world into a developed core and less developed peripheries or the imagined divide between the deprived inner city and the affluent suburbs. (Sibley)

Immigrant (n.) – A person who voluntarily and/or legally re-locates to a country different from that in which he or she was born. Ex –  An Irishman who migrates to the United States is an emigrant of Ireland and an immigrant to the U.S.


Imperialism – A policy of extending the rule of a nation or empire over foreign nations or of taking and holding foreign colonies by forceful conquest.

Incest – Forbidden sexual relations with a close relative. The incest taboo is one of the most common of all taboos as almost all societies have some form of incest avoidance.

Inclusive Language (n.) – Words or phrases that include both women and men if applicable.

Inclusive language does not assume or connote the absence of women. Ex – Use of word “police officers instead of “policemen” or “humankind” instead of “mankind.”


Independent Invention – Appearance of the same cultural trait or pattern in separate cultures as a result of comparable needs and circumstances.

Indigenized – Adapted or modified to fit the local culture.

Indigenous Peoples – Those peoples native to a particular territory that was later colonized, particularly by Europeans. Other terms for indigenous peoples include aborigines, native peoples, first peoples, Fourth World, first nations and autochthonous (this last term having a derivation from Greek, meaning “sprung from the earth”). The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates range from 300 million to 350 million as of the start of the 21st century or just fewer than 6% of the total world population. This includes at least 5000 distinct peoples in over 72 countries.

Individualism – Individualism/Collectivism is one of the Hofstede dimensions in intercultural communication studies. He defines this dimension as: “individualism pertains to societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family.” (Hofstede, 1991, p.51)

Industrial Revolution – The process of historical transformation (in Europe, after 1750) of-“traditional” into “modern” societies through industrialization of the economy by applying new discoveries in science, production methods and distribution of labor.

In-group Bias (favoritism) – the tendency for groups to “favor” themselves by rewarding group members economically, socially, psychologically, and emotionally in order to uplift one group over another.

Institutional Racism– Involves the social policies, laws, and regulations whose purpose is to maintain the economic or social advantage of the ethnic group in power.

Integration – The bringing of people of different racial or ethnic groups into unrestricted and equal association, as in society or an organization; desegregation. An individual integrates when s/he becomes a part of the existing society.

Intercultural – Intercultural describes contact between people of different cultures including different groups within a nation or people of different national origins.  Intercultural is sometimes used as a synonym for cross cultural.  However, cross cultural generally refers to contact between persons of different nations.  Multicultural refers to contact between persons of the same nation.  Intercultural can be used as a more inclusive term that refers to both cross cultural and multicultural contact.

Intergroup Conflict – Tension and conflict which exists between social groups. And which may be enacted by individual members of these groups.

International Culture – Cultural traditions that extend beyond the boundaries of nation states.

Interpretive Approach in Cultural Anthropology – Regards culture as “texts,” to be read and translated for their “thick” meaning. Clifford Geertz is an example of those who represents this approach.

Intersex – 1. A person who is biologically intermediate between male and female. 2. A person with both ovarian and testicular tissue. 3. A person with two ovaries or two testes, but ambiguous genitals.

Intervention Philosophy – Guiding principle of colonialism, conquest, missionization, or development; an ideological justification for outsiders to guide native peoples in specific directions. It was the ideological justification for foreign powers to guide native peoples in specific directions, usually of benefit to the intruders.

Inuit (n. or adj.) –  Eskimo people who are distinct form American Indians and are more closely related to peoples of East Asia.


IPR – Intellectual Property Rights is a legal concept that includes copyrights, trademarks, patents, and related rights, whereby the holder of one these abstract “properties” has certain exclusive rights to the creative work, commercial symbol, or invention which is covered by it. Intellectual property rights, consisting of each society’s cultural core beliefs and principles is also claimed as a group right, a cultural right, allowing indigenous groups to control who may know and use their collective knowledge and its applications.

Islamophobia – Fear and dread of Islam, which has been increasing particularly since September 11th 2001. The Runnymede Trust in 1997 identified ‘closed‘ and ‘open‘ views of Islam. Closed views see Islam as static and unchanging, as primitive, sexist, aggressive, and threatening. Closed views of Islam see hostility towards Muslims as ‘normal’ and are used to justify discrimination because no common values with other religions are admitted. Central to closed views, or ‘Islamophobia’, and propagated by the Western media, is the assumption that all Muslims support all actions taken in the name of Islam. Terrorists are called ‘Islamic Fundamentalists’ although Muslims see them as breaking Islamic law and they suffer from being associated with terrorists and murderers. Open views see Islam as a diverse and progressive faith with internal differences, debates and developments. Recognizing shared values with other faiths and cultures Islam is perceived to be equally worthy of respect. Criticisms by the West are considered and differences and disagreements do not diminish efforts to combat discrimination while care is taken that critical views of Islam are not unfair and inaccurate.

-Ism – A social phenomenon and psychological state where prejudice is accompanied by the power to systemically enact it.

Ivory tower view – of applied anthropology; the belief that anthropologists should avoid practical matters and concentrate on research, publication, and teaching.

Jati – A local subcastes in Hindu India.

Jet Lag – A temporary disruption of bodily rhythms caused by high-speed travel across several time zones typically in a jet aircraft. Typical symptoms are fatigue, insomnia. The world has 24 time zones, one for each hour in the day. A part of the brain called the hypothalamus acts as a kind of alarm clock to activate various body functions such as hunger, thirst, and sleep. It also regulates body temperature, blood pressure, and the level of hormones and glucose in the bloodstream. Thus, when the eye of an air traveler perceives dawn or dusk many hours earlier or later than usual, the hypothalamus may trigger activities that the rest of the body is not ready for, and jet lag occurs.

Joint Family Household – Is a complex family unit formed through polygyny or polyandry or through the decision of married siblings to live together with or without their parents.

Jook Sing – A Chinese term used to refer to “American Born Chinese” of either U.S. or Canadian birth. Meaning “hollow bamboo” in Cantonese, it suggests that the target of the remark may be Chinese on the outside, but lacks the cultural beliefs and values that would make them “truly” Chinese.

Kelley’s Attribution Theory – Kelley’s view of the attribution theory assumes that the attributions we make are, mostly, accurate and logical. There are three main aspects of his view: 1) Consistency: “Is the behavior consistent across most people in the given situation?” 2) Distinctiveness: “Does the behavior vary across different situations?” and 3) Consensus: “Do most people engage in this behavior in this situation?

Kike or Kyke – Derogatory term in the U.S. for a Jew. From kikel, in Yiddish for “circle”. Probably came from the practice that early immigrant Jews signed legal documents with an “O” (rather than an “X”)

Kinesics – The study of non-linguistic bodily movements, such as gestures, stances and facial expressions as a systematic mode of communication.

Kinship Calculation – The system by which people in a particular society reckon kin relationships.

KKK (n.) – The Ku Klux Klan was an organization originally founded in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1866 that functioned as a “secret society organized in the South after the Civil War to reassert white supremacy by means of terrorism.”


Language – is the primary means of communication for humans. It may be spoken or written and features productivity and displacement and is culturally transmitted.

Law – A legal code, including trial and enforcement. Examples are Code of Hammurabi (also known as Codex Hammurabi) which is one of the earliest and best preserved law codes from ancient Babylon created ca. 1760 BC, The Code Napoléon in France was established under Napoléon I and entered into force on March 21, 1804.

Lesbian – A woman who is attracted to other women. (adj.) describing such women.

Leveling Mechanisms – is a social or economic practice that operates to reduce differences in wealth and thus to bring standouts in line with community norms.

Levirate – Custom by which a widow marries the brother of her deceased husband.

LGBTA – Acronym encompassing the diverse groups of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered populations and allies and/or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender alliances/associations.

LGBTIQQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, and Questioning.

Life Expectancy – is the length of time that a person can, on the average, expect to live.

Life History – provides a personal cultural portrait of existence or change in a culture.

Liminality – The critically important marginal or in-between phase of a rite of passage.

Lineage – Unilineal descent group based on demonstrated descent.

Linguistic Anthropology – The descriptive, comparative, and historical study of language and of linguistic similarities and differences in time, space, and society.

Linguistic Isolation (n.) – May be used to describe the experience of feeling confused or alienated when one is unfamiliar with the language spoken by those around them.


Linguistic Profiling (v.) – The practice of making assumptions or value judgments about an individual based on the way he or she speaks and/or the language he or she uses, and then discriminating against that individual because of these factors.


M to F/MTF/M2F – Male to Female. Abbreviation used to specify the direction of sex or gender role change, usually used by those who identify as transsexual.

Machismo – The word machismo-and its derivatives machista and macho, comes from the Spanish word macho, meaning “male” or “manly” and refers to a prominently exhibited or excessive masculinity. Machistas firmly believe in the superiority of men over women and that women were created to stay home and be mothers and wives. In many cultures, from Latin America to Korea and to countries of the Muslim world, machismo is acceptable and even expected male behavior.

Magic – Use of supernatural techniques to accomplish specific aims. Common in many societies. Example: Folk magic, Witchcraft or Voodoo.

Mainstream (n., adj.) – Refers to the dominant cultural norms of a given society. In the United


Mana – Sacred impersonal force in Melanesian and Polynesian religions.

Marginalization (n.) – The placement of minority groups and cultures outside mainstream society. All that varies from the norm of the mainstream is devalued and at times perceived as deviant and regressive.


Marginalized – Excluded, ignored, or relegated to the outer edge of a group/society/community.

Market Principle – Profit-oriented principle of exchange that dominates in states, particularly industrial states. Goods and services are bought and sold, and values are determined by supply and demand.

Market-Based States – Modern states e.g. UK, where the market is the dominant means by which land, labor, capital and goods are exchanged and has a major influence over social and political organization.

Masculinity – One of the Hofstede dimensions. Hofstede defines this dimension as follows: “masculinity pertains to societies in which social roles are clearly distinct (i.e., men are supposed to be assertive, tough and focused on material success whereas women are supposed to be more modest, tender and concerned with the quality of life).” (Hofstede, 1991, p. 83)

Mater – Socially recognized mother of a child.

Materialism – Understands culture to be the product of the material conditions of a given society. Religion, law, and even art forms, reflect the power relationships of a given society as they are generated by the material order of that society. Karl Marx and later anthropologist following Marx’s analysis are representatives.

Matriarchy – A society ruled by women. There is consensus among modern anthropologists and sociologists that a strictly matriarchal society never existed, but there are examples of matrifocal societies. There exist many matriarchal animal societies including bees, elephants, and killer whales. The word matriarchy is coined as the opposite of Patriarchy.

Matrifocal – Mother-centered society. It often refers to a household with no resident husband-father.

Matrilineage – Line of descent as traced through women on the maternal side of a family. In some cultures, membership of a specific group is inherited matrilineally. For example one is a Jew if one’s mother (rather than one’s father) is a Jew. The Nairs of Kerala, India are also matrilineal.

Matrilineal Descent – Unilineal descent rule in which people join the mother’s group automatically at birth and stay members throughout life.

Matrilocality – Customary residence with the wife’s relatives after marriage, so that children grow up in their mother’s community. The Nair community in Kerala in South India and the Mosuo of Yunnan and Sichuan in southwestern China are contemporary examples.

Means (or factors) of Production – Land, labor, technology, and capital-major productive resources.

Medical Anthropology – Field of study where anthropologists are concerned with the sociocultural context and implications of disease and illness.

Melting Pot-The idea that a nation in which all nationalities and ethnicities blend into one unique culture.

Meme – is a theoretical concept introduced by Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene in 1976. Meme is derived from a shortening of the Greek “mimeme” (something imitated) and shortened so that it sounds similar to “gene“. Meme refers to any unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice, idea or concept, which one mind transmits (verbally or by demonstration) to another mind. Examples of cultural memes are thoughts, ideas, theories, opinions, beliefs, moods, poetry, habits, dance, tunes, catch-phrases, fashions, and ways of building arches. Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process broadly called imitation very similarly how genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leading from body to body via sperm or eggs. A list of memetic concepts can be found here.

Meritocracy – A system of government based on rule by ability or merit rather than by wealth, race or other determinants of social position. Nowadays this term refers to openly competitive societies like the USA where large inequalities of income and wealth accrued by merit rather than birth is accepted. In contrast egalitarian societies like the Scandinavian countries aim to reduce such disparities of wealth.

Mestizo – A term used to refer to people of partly Native American descent. From Spanish.

Minority Group – A group that occupies a subordinate position in a society. Minorities may be separated by physical or cultural traits disapproved of by the dominant group and as a result often experience discrimination. Minorities may not always be defined along social, ethnic, religious or sexual lines but could be broad based e.g. non-citizens or foreigners.

Miscegenation (n.) – The mixing of races.


Mode of Production – Way of organizing production. It is a set of social relations through which labor is deployed to wrest energy from nature by means of tools, skills, and knowledge.

Model Minority – Refers to a minority ethnic, racial, or religious group whose members achieve a higher degree of success than the population average. This success is typically measured in income, education, and related factors such as low crime rate and high family stability.

Monochronic – E.T.Hall introduced the concept of Polychronic/Monochronic cultures. According to him, in monochronic cultures, people try to sequence actions on the “one thing at a time” principle. Interpersonal relations are subordinate to time schedules and deadlines.

Monoethnic – Belonging to the same ethnic group.

Monotheism – Worship of an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent supreme being. Judaism and Islam are examples.

More Developed Countries (MDCs) – Countries with significant competitive advantages in today’s globalizing economy. They have well-developed, increasingly knowledge-based and strongly interconnected manufacturing and service sectors that provide a significant proportion of employment and contribute to significant national and individual wealth. In these countries indices such as literacy levels, incomes and quality of life are high and these countries exercise considerable political influence at the global scale. Examples are the UK, the US, Germany and France.

Morphology – The study of form. It is used in linguistics (the study of morphemes and word construction).

Mulato – A term used for people of partly African descent. Originates from Spanish.

Multicultural – relating to or containing several cultural or ethnic groups within a society (nation).

Multicultural Counseling– may be used interchangeably with cross-cultural counseling.  (counseling that takes place between or among individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

Multiculturalism – A belief or policy that endorses the principle of cultural diversity of different cultural and ethnic groups so that they retain distinctive cultural identities. The United States is understood as a “mosaic” of various and diverse cultures, as opposed to the single monolithic culture that results from the “melting pot” or assimilation model. Pluralism tends to focus on differences within the whole, while multiculturalism emphasizes the individual groups that make up the whole. The term multiculturalism is also used to refer to strategies and measures intended to promote diversity. According to Wikipedia, the word was first used in 1957 to describe Switzerland, but came into common currency in Canada in the late 1960s.

Multiethnic – An individual that comes from more than one ethnicity. An individual whose parents are born from more than one ethnicity.

Multiplicity – The quality of having multiple, simultaneous social identities (e.g., being male and Buddhist and working class).

Multiracial – The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose parents are not the same race. Multiracial is more commonly used to describe a society or group of people from more than one racial or ethnic group. Mulato (for people of partly African descent) and mestizo (people of partly Native American descent) in Spanish and métis in Candian French (for people of mixed white and original inhabitants of Canada descent) are also used in English.

Myth -Story told in one’s culture to explain things like the creation of the world, and the behavior of its inhabitants.

Naming – “When we articulate a thought that traditionally has not been discussed”.

Nation – Earlier a synonym for “ethnic group,” designating a single culture sharing a language, religion, history, territory, ancestry, and kinship. Now usually a synonym for state or nation-state.

National Culture – Cultural experiences, beliefs, learned behavior patterns, and values shared by citizens of the same nation.

National Origin – The political state from which an individual hails; may or may not be the same as that the person’s current location or citizenship.

Nationalities – Ethnic groups that have, once had, or wish to have or regain, autonomous political status (their own country).

Nation-State – A symbolic system of institutions claiming sovereignty over a bounded territory. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “nation-state“: a sovereign state of which most of the citizens or subjects are united also by factors which define a nation, such as language or common descent. Japan and Iceland could be two examples of near ideal nation-states.

Natural Selection – Originally formulated by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace. Refers to the process by which nature selects the forms most fit to survive and reproduce in a given environment such as the tropics.

Naturalistic Disease Theories – One of the theories of diseases used in anthropology that explain illness in impersonal systemic terms. It includes scientific medicine.

Naturalization (v.) – The U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services define naturalization as “the conferring, by any means, of citizenship upon a person after birth.

Négritude – Black association and identity. It is an idea developed by dark-skinned intellectuals in Francophone (French-speaking) West Africa and the Caribbean.

Negro – Negro usually refers to people of Black African ancestry. Originates from Spanish negro meaning black. The term negro is considered offensive nowadays. Modern synonyms in common use: “Black“, “Dark-skinned“, “African“, “African American” in the US.

Neoconservatism – Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the United States. The term neoconservative was originally used as a criticism against liberals who had “moved to the right“. Michael Harrington, a democratic socialist, coined the usage of neoconservative in a 1973 Dissent magazine article concerning welfare policy.

Neolocality – Postmarital residence pattern in which a couple establishes a new place of residence rather than living with or near either set of parents.

New Economic Geography – An economic geography that recognizes the importance of culture as an influence on economic processes and outcomes. This draws attention to the culturalization of the economy in contrast to the economization of culture.

New International Division of Labour (NIDL) – The global shift of economic activity that occurs when the process of production is no longer centered primarily around national economies.

New Racism– a subtle form of racism that facilitates discrimination in liberal, democratic societies.

Newly Agriculturizing Countries (NACs) – Some low-middle income countries which have specialized in the export of high-value foods e.g. Brazil, Mexico, China, Argentina and Kenya.

Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs) – Countries where there has been a relatively recent and significant shift away from primary activities such as agriculture towards manufacturing production e.g. South Korea and Mexico. In some cases the proportion of manufacturing production is similar to that of the more developed countries like UK or the US.

Nigga – Term used in African American vernacular English to refer to a person of Black African ancestry living in the US. The use of the term by persons not of African descent is still widely viewed as unacceptable and hostile even if there is no intention to slander.

Nigger – Extremely offensive term to refer to people of Black African ancestry in the USA.

Nigrew – In the U.S. it is a derogatory term for a Jew of African-American descent (shortened version of Nigger and Jew.)

Nomadism, Pastoral – Movement throughout the year by the whole pastoral group (men, women, and children) with their animals: More generally it means such constant movement in pursuit of strategic resources.

Norms – Prescriptions for appropriate behavior held by members of a social group.

Nuclear Family – is a household consisting of two heterosexual parents and their children as distinct from the extended family. Nuclear families are typical in societies where people must be relatively mobile e.g., hunter-gatherers and industrial societies.

Nuyorican (n.) – Of or related to a person born in New York City of Puerto Rican ancestry.


Obedience – A form of compliance in which behavior happens in response to a direct order.

Observational Learning – A type of learning, in which an individual acquires new behaviors simply by observing the behaviors of others.

One-World Culture – A belief that the future will bring development of a single homogeneous world culture through advances and links created by modern communication, transportation and trade.

Open Class System – Stratification system that facilitates social mobility, with individual achievement and personal merit determining social rank.

Open Plan Office – A system of office design where work spaces occupy large areas undivided by walls. However, plants, movable partitions or furniture may separate areas.

Oppression – Results from the use of institutional power and privilege where one person or group benefits at the expense of another. Oppression is the use of power and the effects of domination.

Oreo Cookies – US racial slur to refer to a person perceived as black on the outside and white on the inside, hinted by the appearance of an Oreo cookie.

Orishas (n.) – The various gods and goddesses of Caribbean and Latin American religion of


Osenbei (Senbei) – Derogatory term in the US and the UK used to refer to a half Asian, half Caucasian person. It means “rice cracker” in Japanese. Its use derives from the US slang “cracker” for a white person, and “rice” to refer to an Asian.

Ought Self – Duties, obligations, responsibilities – facets of the self concept which should exist.

Out Group – A group of which a person is not a member but is aware of the group.

Overinnovation – Characteristic of projects that require major changes in the daily lives of the natives in the target community, especially ones that interfere with customary subsistence pursuits.

Pacific Islander (n.) – The term “Pacific Islander” refers to persons whose origins are of the following nations – Polynesian, Melanesia, Micronesia, or any of the Pacific Islands.


Paddy (n.) – A derogatory term for persons of Irish descent.


Paleoethnobotany (Archaeobotany) – is the recovery and identification of plant remains from archaeological contexts, important in the reconstruction of past environments and economies.

Pansexual – A term referring to the potential for sexual attractions or romantic love toward people of all gender identities and biological sexes. The concept of pansexuality deliberately rejects the gender binary, and derives its origin from the transgender movement.

Paradigm – is the set of fundamental assumptions that influence how people think and how they perceive the world.

Paradigmatic view – is an approach to science, developed by Thomas Kuhn, which holds that science develops from a set of assumptions (paradigm) and that revolutionary science ends with the acceptance of a new paradigm which ushers in a period of normal science.

Parallel Cousins – Children of two brothers or two sisters.

Participant Observation – Technique for cross-cultural adjustment. This entails keeping a detailed record of your observations, interactions and interviews while living in a culture that is not your own. Participant observation is also a fundamental method of research used in cultural anthropology. A researcher lives within a given culture for an extended period of time, to take part in its daily life in all its richness and diversity. The anthropologist in this approach tries to experience a culture “from within,” as a person native to that culture is presumed to.

Participative competence – The ability to interact on equal terms in multicultural environments so that knowledge is shared and the learning experience is professionally enhancing for all involved. Even when using a second language, people with high participative competence are able to contribute equitably to the common task under discussion and can also share knowledge, communicate experience, and stimulate group learning to benefit all parties. (Adapted from source: Holden, Nigel 2001, Cross-Cultural Management: A Knowledge Management Perspective) Financial Times Management

Particularism – One of the value dimensions as proposed by Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1997). It reflects the preference for rules over relationships (or vice versa). Particularist societies tend to be more flexible with rules, and acknowledge the unique circumstances around a particular rule.

Particularity – Distinctive or unique culture trait, pattern, or integration.

Pastoral Nomadism – A form of social organization that is based on livestock husbandry for largely subsistence purposes. Pastoral nomads are characterized by a high level of mobility which allows them continually to search for new pastures in order to maintain their herds of animals. First known nomadic pastoral society developed in the period from 6200 – 6000 BC in the Middle East.

Pastoralists – People who use a food-producing strategy of adaptation based on care of herds of domesticated animals.

Pater – Socially recognized father of a child though not necessarily the genitor or biological father.

Patriarchy – Political system ruled by men in which women have inferior social and political status, including basic human rights.

Patrilineage – Line of descent as traced through men on the paternal side of a family each of whom is related to the common ancestor through males. Synonym is agnation and opposite is matrilineage.

Patrilineal – An interrelated constellation of patrilineality, patrilocality, warfare, and male supremacy.

Patrilineal Descent – Unilineal descent rule in which people join the father’s group automatically at birth and stay members throughout life.

Patrilocality – Customary residence with the husband’s relatives after marriage, so that children grow up in their father’s community.

Peasant – Small-scale agriculturalist living with rent fund obligations.

Peer Pressure – the influences that people of the same rank, age or group have on each other. Under peer pressure a group norm of attitudes and/or behaviors may override individual moral inhibitions, sexual personal habits or individual attitudes or behavioral patterns.

Peer-Polity Interaction – is the full range of exchanges taking place, including imitation, emulation, competition, warfare, and the exchange of material goods and information between autonomous (self-governing) sociopolitical units, generally within the same geographic region.

Peers Pressure -the influences that people of the same rank, age or group have on each other. Under peer pressure a group norm of attitudes and/or behaviors may override individual moral inhibitions, sexual personal habits or individual attitudes or behavioral patterns.

People of Color – A collective term for men and women of Asian, African, Latin and Native American backgrounds; as opposed to the collective “White” for those of European ancestry.

Periphery – is the weakest structural position in the world system.

Personal Identity – Our identities as individuals-including our personal characteristics, history, personality, name, and other characteristics that make us unique and different from other individuals.

Personal Space – Humans desire to have a pocket of space around them and into which they tend to resent others intruding. Personal space is highly variable. Those who live in a densely populated environment tend to have smaller personal space requirements. Thus a resident of a city in India or China may have a smaller personal space than someone who lives in Northern Lapland. See also Proxemics.

Personalistic Disease theories – One of the theories in Anthropology that attributes illness to sorcerers, witches, ghosts, or ancestral spirits.

Phenotype – An organism’s evident traits, its “manifest biology“. The term is used in anatomy and physiology.

Phoneme – Significant sound contrast in a language that serves to distinguish meaning, as in minimal pairs.

Phonemics – The study of the sound contrasts (phonemes) of a particular language.

Phonetics – The study of speech sounds in general; what people actually say in various languages.

Phonology – The study of sounds used in speech.

Phylogenetic tree – is a graphic representation of evolutionary relationships among animal species.

Plural Society – A society that combines ethnic contrasts and economic interdependence of the ethnic groups.

Polack (n.) – Derogatory term for persons of Polish descent.

Polyamory – The practice of having multiple open, honest love relationships.

Polyandry – A variety of plural marriage in which a woman has more than one husband. Tibet is the most well-documented cultural domain within which polyandry is practiced, though it has recently been outlawed.

Polychronic – The concept of Polychronic/Monochronic cultures was introduced by E.T. Hall. He suggested that in Polychronic cultures, multiple tasks are handled at the same time, and time is subordinate to interpersonal relations.

Polytheism – Belief in several deities who control aspects of nature. The ancient Greeks believed that their gods were independent deities who weren’t aspects of a great deity.

Positive Eugenics – is a method of increasing the frequency of desirable traits by encouraging reproduction by individuals with these traits. Negative eugenics is aimed at lowering fertility among the genetically disadvantaged by means of abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning

Positivism – refers to the theoretical position that explanations must be empirically verifiable, that there are universal laws in the structure and transformation of human institutions, and that theories which incorporate individualistic elements, such as minds, are not verifiable.

Postcolonial – Refers to interactions between European nations and the societies they colonized (mainly after 1800). “Postcolonial” may be used to signify a position against imperialism and Eurocentrism

Postmodern – Describes the blurring and breakdown of established canons (rules, standards), categories, distinctions, and boundaries.

Postmodernity – Refers to the condition of a world in flux, with people on the move, in which established groups, boundaries, identities, contrasts, and standards are breaking down.

Post-Partum Sex Taboo – is the prohibition of a woman from having sexual intercourse for a specified period of time following the birth of a child.

Power Distance – One of the Hofstede dimensions of national cultures. “The extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally” (Hofstede, 1991 p.27)

Power Geometry – The notion of Power Geometry is a product of globalization and refers to the ways that different groups of individuals interact at different scales, linking local development to national, international, and global processes.

Prejudice – Over-generalized, oversimplified or exaggerated beliefs associated with a category or group of people. These beliefs are not easily changed, even in the fact of contrary evidence. Example: A French woman is in an elevator alone. She grabs her purse tight when an African young man enters. Prejudice can also be devaluing (looking down on) a group because of its assumed behavior, values, capabilities, attitudes, or other attributes.

Prestige – Esteem, respect, or approval for acts, deeds, or qualities considered exemplary.

Privilege – a right, license, or exemption from duty or liability granted as a special benefit, advantage, or favor.

Pro-choice (adj.) – Of or related to the belief that it is a woman’s right to choose whether or not


Progeny Price – A gift from the husband and his kin to the wife and her kin before, at, or after marriage. It legitimizes children born to the woman as members of the husband’s descent group.

Pro-Life (adj.) – Of or related to the belief in an un-born child’s right to life. Pro-life advocates


Protestant Work Ethic – a bible based value system that stresses the moral value of work, self-discipline, and individual responsibility as the means to improving one’s economic well-being. Also known as the Puritan work ethic, the term was first coined by Max Weber, a German Economist and Sociologist in 1904. Many Europeans and Americans consider it as one of the cornerstones of national prosperity.

Protoculture – is the simplest or beginning aspects of culture as seen in some nonhuman primates.

Proto-language – refers to a language ancestral to several daughter languages. Example: Latin or Sankrit.

Proxemics – is the study of human “perception and use of space” (Hall 1959). Proxemics tries to identify the distance and the way the space around persons are “organised“. In some cultures, people are comfortable with being very close, or even touching each other as a normal sign of friendship. In other cultures, touching and sitting/standing very close can cause considerable discomfort.

Public Transcript – A term used by James Scott to refer to the open, public interactions between dominators and oppressed. It points to the outer shell of power relations and is the opposite of ‘Private Transcript’.

Purdah – is the Muslim or Hindu practice of keeping women hidden from men outside their own family; or, a curtain, veil, or the like used for such a purpose.

Pygmalion Effect – A labeling phenomenon in which teachers’ expectations affect students’ classroom performances.

Quaker (n.) – A member of the Society of Friends, a Christian sect founded by George Fox in the 1600s. Quakers historically have been outspoken critics of slavery and violence.


Qualitative Research – Qualitative research involves the gathering of data through methods that involve observing forms of behavior e.g. conversations, non-verbal communication, rituals, displays of emotion, which cannot easily be expressed in terms of quantities or numbers.

Quantitative Research – Quantitative research is the systematic scientific investigation of quantitative or measurable properties and phenomena and interrelationships. Quantitative research aims to develop and employ hypotheses, theories and models, which can be verified scientifically.

Queer – An umbrella term that can refer to anyone who transgresses society’s view of gender or sexuality. The definitional indeterminacy of the word Queer, its elasticity, is one of its constituent characteristics – “A zone of possibilities.”

Queer (n., adj.) – Term used to refer to people or culture of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community. A term once perceived as derogatory is now embraced by some members of the GLBT community.


Questioning – A term used to refer to an individual who is uncertain of her/his sexual orientation or identity.

Questionnaire – Survey research technique in which the researcher suplies written questions to the subject, who gives written answers to the questions asked.

Quota (n.) – A number or percentage particularly of people designated as a targeted minimum for a particular group or organization. A term often used in reference to admission to colleges and universities and organizational hiring practices.


Racism – Theories, attitudes and practices that display dislike or antagonism towards people seen as belonging to a particular ethnic groups. Social or political significance is attached to culturally constructed ideas of difference.

Rainbow Flag – The Rainbow Freedom Flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker to designate the great diversity of the LGBTIQ community. It has been recognized by the International Flag Makers Association as the official flag of the LGBTIQ civil rights movement.

Random Sample – A sample in which all members of the population have an equal statistical chance of being included.

Ranked Society – A society in which there is an unequal division of status and power between its members, where such divisions are based primarily on such factors as family and inherited social position. This is in contrast with egalitarian society, which aims to minimise such unequal divisions.

Reciprocity – One of the three principles of exchange. It governs exchange between social equals and is a major exchange mode in band and tribal societies. Since virtually all humans live in some kind of society and have at least a few possessions, reciprocity is common to every culture. Reciprocity is the basis of most non-market economies.

Re-fencing (exception-making) – A cognitive process for protecting stereotypes by explaining any evidence/example to the contrary as an isolated exception.

Regional Inversion – is a process of radical change when the established order of territorial influence changes. Through regional inversion, previously backward regions become predominant in a national context. Lagging areas that emerge through this process eventually overshadow the influence of predominant regions.

Relativism -A willingness to consider other persons’ or groups’ theories and values as equally reasonable as one’s own.

Religion – A system of beliefs, usually spiritual in nature, and often in terms of a formal, organized denomination.

Religious Discrimination – Religious discrimination is treating someone differently because of what they do or don’t believe. Religious discrimination is closely related to racism, but there are differences in how it is expressed and how it is treated in law. An example of religious discrimination by the state is non-Muslims being discriminated against in some Islamic states. In many countries legislation specifically prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in relation to hiring, firing and other terms and conditions of employment. Today, many western states forbid discrimination based on religion, though this is not always enforced. For example, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States of America, research conducted by the Level Playing Field Institute and the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut revealed that Muslims were rated very low relative to other racial, ethnic, and religious groups in terms of their fit in the American workplace. Adapted from source:

Rescue Archaeology – A term applied to the emergency salvage of sites in immediate danger of destruction by major land modification projects such as reservoir construction.

Reverse Discrimination (n.) – A term used by opponents to affirmative action who believe that these policies are causing members of traditionally dominant groups to be discriminated against.


Revitalization Movements – Movements that occur in times of change, in which religious leaders emerge and undertake to alter or revitalize a society.

Rites of Passage – Culturally defined activities (rituals) that mark a person’s transition from one stage of life to another. These aim to help participants move into new social roles, positions or statuses. Puberty, wedding, childbirth are examples.

Ritual – Behavior that is formal, stylized, repetitive, and stereotyped. A ritual is performed earnestly as a social act. Rituals are held at set times and places and have liturgical orders.

Rust Belt – A region of the North-Eastern USA roughly between Chicago and New York City that suffered substantial industrial decline, especially after the Second World War.

Safe Space – Refers to an environment in which everyone feels comfortable in expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of attack, ridicule or denial of experience.

Saliency – The quality of a group identity of which an individual is more conscious and which plays a larger role in that individual’s day-to-day life; for example, a man’s awareness of his “maleness” in an elevator with only women.

Same Gender Loving – a term coined by activist Cleo Manago as a description for homosexuals, particularly in the African American community. SGL is an alternative to Eurocentric homosexual identities e.g. gay and lesbian.

Sample – A smaller study group chosen to represent a larger population.

Sapir – Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (SWH) (also known as the “linguistic relativity hypothesis“) is a theory that different languages produce different ways of thinking. It postulates a systematic relationship between the grammatical categories of the language a person speaks and how that person both understands the world and behaves in it.

Scapegoating – The directing of hostility towards less powerful groups when the actual source of frustration or anger cannot be attacked or is unavailable.

Schema – An organized pattern of knowledge, acquired from past experience, humans use to interpret current experience.

Schizoid view-of Applied Anthropology – is the belief that anthropologists should help carry out, but not make or criticize, policy, and that personal value judgments should be kept strictly separate from scientific investigation in applied anthropology.

Script – A conceptual representation of a stereotyped sequence of events.

Segmentary Lineage Organization – Political organization based on descent, usually patrilineal, with multiple descent segments that form at different genealogical levels and function in different contexts. A segmentary lineage society is characterized by the organization of the society into segments; what is often referred to as a tribal society.

Selective Exposure – Seeking information to support one’s attitudes and beliefs and intentionally avoiding information that is incosistent with one’s attitude.

Self-affirmation – A phenomenon in which an individual responds to a threat to self-esteem by enhancing some facet of the self-concept.

Self-awareness – A psychological state in which individuals focus their attention on and evaluate different aspects of their self-concepts. These can vary from physical experiences to differences between “Ideal” self and “Real” self.

Self-categorization – The process of an individual spontaneously including herself or himself as a member of a group.

Self-concept – The entirety of an individual’s thoughts and feelings with reference to the self as an object.

Self-consciousness – An inclination to focus on one’s self. Private self-consciousness relates to self-awareness, while public self-consciousness handles other people’s view of the self.

Self-disclosure – How an individual reveals information about the self; self-revelation.

Self-esteem – The evaluation of oneself in either positive or negative terms.

Self-fulfilling prophecy – When a perceiver’s belief about an observed person can actually elicit desired behavior from the observed person. Also called expectancy confirmation sequence.

Self-handicapping strategy – Any action or choice of performance setting that increases the opportunity to avoid blame for failure and to get credit for success.

Self-monitoring – The use by an individual of cues from other people’s self-presentations to control his or her own self-presentation. Impression management in social relations require well-developed self-presentation skills acquired through high self-monitoring.

Self-perception theory – Proposes that we learn about our emotions, attitudes and other internal states by observing our own behavior.

Self-schema – Cognitive generalizations about own self. These guide and organize the processing of self-related information.

Self-serving attitude bias – A tendency to infer causes for events in order to confirm the individual’s self-concept, usually by claiming greater personal responsibility for beneficial outcomes than negative outcomes.

Semantic differential technique – A method of measuring attitude in which test subjects rate a concept on a series of bipolar scales of adjectives.

Semiperiphery – Structural position in the world system intermediate between core and periphery.

Semitic (adj.) – Of or related to the language and culture of Semites. Semitic languages are characterized as Afro-Asiatic languages that include Arabic, Hebrew, Amharic, and Aramaic.


Sex – biological classification of male or female (based on genetic or physiological features); as opposed to gender.

Sexism – Discrimination or prejudice against some people because of their gender.

Sexual Dimorphism – Marked differences in male and female biology, besides the contrasts in breasts and genitals, and temperament.

Sexual Harassment (n) –  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as “a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


Sexual Orientation – A person’s habitual sexual attraction to, and activities with: persons of the opposite sex, heterosexuality; the same sex, homosexuality; or both sexes, bisexuality.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination – Sexual orientation discrimination is discrimination against individuals, couples or groups based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. Usually, this means the discrimination of a person who has a same-sex sexual orientation, whether or not they identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Acceptability of sexual orientation varies greatly from society to society. The Republic of South Africa is the first nation on earth to integrate freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation into its constitution.

Shaman – A religious practitioner who mediates between ordinary people and supernatural beings and forces. A Shaman travels between worlds in a state of trance. Once in the spirit world, the shaman would commune with the spirits for assistance in healing, hunting or weather management.

Shantytown – Neighborhoods where poor migrants to cities live. Also called slum, favela, township.

Shared Stress Effect – People who are together in a stressful environment tend to feel mutual attraction.

Silencing – The conscious or unconscious processes by which the voice or participation of particular social identities is exclude or inhibited.

Simulation – A research method that tries to imitate crucial aspects some real-world situation in order to understand the underlying mechanism of that situation.

Slavery – is the most extreme, coercive, abusive, and inhumane form of legalized inequality where people are treated as things or someone’s property.

Social Comparison Theory – Proposes that we use other people for comparing in order to evaluate our own attitudes and abilities.

Social Distance – The degree of physical, social or psychological closeness or intimacy to members of a group like ethnic, racial or religious groups.

Social Drift Theory – The theory that people move into the social class that is commensurate with their personal abilities and behavior.

Social Exchange Theory – A theoretical model within the learning perspective, in which interpersonal relationships are considered in terms of rewards gained and costs for the participants.

Social Exclusion – The various ways in which people are excluded from the accepted norms within a society. Exclusion can be economic, social, religious or political.

Social Facilitation – The condition when the presence of others improves an individual’s performance.

Social Identity – It involves the ways in which one characterizes oneself, the affinities one has with other people, the ways one has learned to behave in stereotyped social settings, the things one values in oneself and in the world, and the norms that one recognizes or accepts governing everyday behavior.

 Social Identity Development – The stages or phases that a person’s group identity follows as it matures or develops.

Social Impact Theory – A theory of social influence which includes the immediacy, number and strength of influence agents.

Social Inhibition – Happens when the presence of other people causes a decline in a person’s performance. Also called Social Impairment.

Social Judgement Theory – A theory of attitude change which emphasizes the individual’s perception and judgement of a persuasive communication. Central concepts in this theory are anchors, assimilation and contrast effects, and latitudes of acceptance, rejection and noncommitment.

Social Justice – A broad term for action intended to create genuine equality, fairness and respect among peoples.

Social Learning Theory – A theory that proposes that social behavior develops as a result of observing others and of being reinforced for certain behaviors.

Social Loafing – A decrease in individual effort when people work in groups compared to them working alone.

Social Network – The people with whom an individual is in actual contact.

Social Oppression – “Exist when one social group, whether knowingly or unconsciously, exploits another group for its own benefit” (Hardiman and Jackson, 1997)

Social Problem– A condition affecting a significant number of people, in ways considered undesirable, about which it is felt that something can be done, through collective, social action.

Social Race – A group assumed to have a biological basis but actually perceived and defined in a social context, by a particular culture rather than by scientific criteria. The term “social race” has been used in the past as well as in today’s American societies. Terms as “Negro”, “white”, “Indian”, or “mulatto” do not have any genetic meanings in most of the American societies – in one society they may be classifications based on real or imaginary physical characteristics, in another they may refer more to criteria of social status such as education, wealth, language and custom, or in yet another society they may indicate near or distant ancestry.

Social Register – A way of expressing that a message is addressed to a particular individual. For example, a higher-pitched simplified speech is used for communicating with a baby.

Social Responsibility Norm – Dictates how people should help other people who need help or are dependant.

Social Self-Esteem – The degree of positive-negative evaluation an individual holds about his/her particular situation in regards to his/her social identities.

Social Self-View – An individual’s perception of to which social identity groups he/she belongs.

Social Support – Help and resourced provided by others for coping.

Social Theory – A belief about how variables in the social environment go together.

Socialization – A process of behaviors accepted by society.

Sociobiology – Identifies biological and genetic bases for social behavior in humans and other animals.

Sociofugal Space – Settings created to discourage conversation among people by making eye contact difficult. e.g. sside by side seating in waiting rooms.

Sociolinguistics – is the study of relationships between social and linguistic variation or the study of language (performance) in its social context.

Sociopetal Space – Setting that encourage interpersonal interaction through increased eye contact. e.g. cafés, cocktail lounges.

Sororate – Custom by which a widower marries the sister of the deceased wife.

Spanglish – A colloquial and contested mixture of Spanish and English words, phrases and grammar.

Spotlighting – The practice of inequitably calling attention to particular social groups in language, while leaving others as the invisible, de facto norm. For example – “black male suspect”(versus “male suspect,” presumed white); “WNBA” (as opposed to “NBA,” presumed male).

Status Characteristics Theory – A theory of group processes proposing that differences in evaluations and beliefs about types of individuals become the basis for inequalities in social interaction.

Status Markers – Physical symbols to indicate a person’s rank or relative standing in an organization or a group or society. e.g. the size and position of one’s office.

Stereotypes – Stereotypes (or “characterizations“) are generalizations or assumptions that people make about the characteristics of all members of a group, based on an inaccurate image about what people in that group are like. For example, Americans are generally friendly, generous, and tolerant, but also arrogant, impatient, and domineering. Asians are humble, shrewd and alert, but reserved. Stereotyping is common and causes most of the problems in cross-cultural conflicts.

Stigma – A term describing the condition of possessing an identity which has been branded ‘spoiled’ or discredited identity by others. Examples of negative social stigmas are physical or mental handicaps and disorders, as well as homosexuality or affiliation with a specific nationality, religion or ethnicity.

Stimulus – Any internal or external event that produces a change in a person’s behavior.

Stimulus Discrimination – The distinguishing between similar stimuli.

Stimulus Generalization – A process in which a person, after having learnt a response to one stimulus, produces the same response when exposed to some other similar stimulus, even though having never before being exposed to that stimulus.

Strategic Human Resource Management – Strategic human resource management can be defined as the linking of human resources with strategic goals and objectives in order to improve business performance and develop organizational culture that foster innovation, flexibility and competitive advantage.

Stratification – Characteristic of a system with socioeconomic strata, sharp social divisions based on unequal access to wealth and power.

Stratified Society – A society where there is an unequal division of material wealth between its members.

Strength – Power, status or resources associated with a social influence agent in social impact theory.

Stress – An imbalance between environmental demands and an organism’s response capabilities. Also the human body’s response to excessive change.

Structuralism – There has been a number of forms of “structuralism” in the history of anthropology. Structural-functionalism approaches the basic structures of a given society as serving key functions in meeting basic human needs. Another form of structuralism, developed by Claude Levi-Strauss, argues that social/cultural structures are actually rooted in the fundamental structure of the human brain, which generates basic building-blocks of social/cultural systems. In this approach, culture is studied for its deeper meaning to be discovered in the careful structural analysis of meaning in myth and ritual.

Sub-Culture – A part or subdivision of a dominant culture or an enclave within it with a distinct integrated network of behavior, beliefs and attitudes. The subculture may be distinctive because of the race, ethnicity, social class, gender or age of its members.

Sun Belt – Used for the major growth areas of the southern and western parts of the USA during recent years in contrast to the contracting and declining industrial base of the north-east (rust belt). The term has also been used in other parts of the developed world to describe dynamic regions, e.g. the M4 corridor in England.

Superego – In psychoanalytic theory, the part of personality oriented toward morally proper actions; the conscience. The superego includes a person’s ideal self-image.

Superordinate Goal – A significant goal that can be achieved only through cooperation among different individuals and groups.

Symbolic Racism – A blend of negative affect and traditional moral values embodied in e.g., the Protestant ethic; underlying attitudes that support racist positions.

Syncretism – Blending traits from two different cultures to form a new trait. Also called fusion. This occurs when a subordinate group moulds elements of a dominant culture to fit its own traditions.

Syntax – The arrangement and order of words in phrases and sentences.

System of Oppression – Conscious and unconscious, non-random, and organized harassment, discrimination , exploitation, discrimination, prejudice and other forms of unequal treatment that impact different groups.

Taboo – is a strong social prohibition with grave consequences about certain areas of human activity or social custom. The term originally came from the Tongan language. The first recorded usage in English was by Captain James Cook in 1777. Some examples of taboo are dietary restrictions such as halal or kosher, restrictions on sexual activities such as incest, bestiality or animal-human sex, necrophilia or sex with the dead etc.

Terrorism (n.) – The use or threat to use, unlawful acts of force or violence to intimidate or coerce another person, group, or government, often for ideological, religious, or political reasons. The U.S. Department of State defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”


Theory – An explanatory framework, containing a series of statements, that helps us understand why (something exists or functions in a certain manner). Theories suggest patterns, connections, and relationships that may be confirmed by new research.

Third World – A very vague term used to describe those regions of the world in which levels of development, applying such measures as GDP, are significantly below those of the economically more advanced regions. The term is increasingly seen as an inadequate description of the prevailing world situation since it fails to describe a significant amount of internal differentiation and development.

Tokenism (n.) – The policy of making only a perfunctory effort or symbolic gesture toward the accomplishment of a goal, such as racial integration; the practice of hiring or appointing a token number of people from underrepresented groups in order to deflect criticism or comply with affirmative action rules.


Tolerance (n) – Acceptance and open-mindedness to different practices, attitudes, and cultures; does not necessarily mean agreement with the differences.

Traditional Medicine-Medicine and healthcare practices which originated in a particular culture, and have been practiced by an ethnic or cultural group centuries in the country of origin or of emigration

Trait – Describes regularities in behavior, especially with reference to an individual’s personality.

Transactionalism – Transactionalism perspective sees an individual and an environment as integral aspects of a unitary system of change.

Transculturation – is a term coined by Fernando Ortiz in the 1940s to describe the phenomenon of merging and converging of different cultures. It argues that the natural tendency of people is to resolve conflicts over time, rather than aggravating them. Global communication and transportation technology nowadays replaces the ancient tendency of cultures drifting or remaining apart by bringing cultures more into interaction. The term “Ethnoconvergence” is sometimes used in cases where tranculturation affects ethnic issues.

Transgender – Appearing as, wishing to be considered as, or having undergone surgery to become a member of the opposite sex. Transgendered people can include transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag kings/queens, masculine women, feminine men, and those who defy what society tells them is appropriate for their gender.

Transhumance – One of two variants of pastoralism. A part of the population moves seasonally with the herds while the other part remains in home villages.

Transnationalism – Is the system of multiple ties and interactions linking people or organizations across the borders of nation-states and identified, for example, by flows of capital, images, information and people.

Transphobia – The fear or hatred of homosexuality (and other non-heterosexual identities), and persons perceived to be transgender and/or transexual.

Transracial Adoption (n.) – The adoption of a child of a race different than that of the parent or guardian.


Transsexual – One who identifies as a gender other that of their biological sex.

Tribe – A type of social formation usually considered to arise from the development of agriculture. Tribes tend to have a higher population density than bands and are also characterized by common descent or ancestry.

Tropics – World area of geographic belt extending about 23 degrees north and south of the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer (north) and the Tropic of Capricorn (south).

Two Spirit – A Native American term for individuals who identify both as male and female. In western culture these individuals are identified as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgendered.

Uncertainty Avoidance – is one of the Hofstede dimensions, which he defines as “the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations.” (Hofstede, 1991)

Uncertainty of Approval – Measures how much any member of a group is concerned about getting acceptance from other group members.

Underdifferentiation – In developmental anthropology it refers to planning fallacy of viewing less-developed countries as an undifferentiated group. Ignoring cultural diversity and adopting a uniform approach (often ethnocentric) for very different types of project beneficiaries. In Linguistics it is the representation of two or more phonemes, syllables, or morphemes with a single symbol.

Undocumented Workers (n.) – A term used to describe the populations of laborers in the


Unearned Privilege (n) – Privileges accorded to some individuals because they possess or demonstrate certain characteristics associated with the dominant culture in society, such as being heterosexual, white, or male. These privileges are deeply ingrained into U.S. culture.


Unilineal Descent – Matrilineal or patrilineal descent.

Unilineal Evolution – also referred to as classical social evolution) is a 19th century social theory which claims a pattern of cultural progress through a sequence of evolutionary stages. It was the basic premise of the early cultural evolutionists but is considered obsolete.

Universal – Something that exists in every culture.

Universalism – One of the Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1997) dimensions describing the preference for rules over relationships (or vice versa). In a Universalist culture, a rule cannot be broken and is a “hard fact“, no matter what the relationship with the person is. People in universalistic cultures share the belief that general rules, codes, values and standards take precedence over particular needs and claims of friends and relations.

Unobtrusive Measures – A measurement that can be made without the person being aware of being studied. This is done to reduce the problem of evaluation apprehension, when the person being evaluated is concerned about performing suitably.

Unstructured Interview – is an ethnographic data-gathering technique usually used in the early stages of fieldwork in which interviewees are asked to respond to broad, open-ended questions.

Urbanization – The process by which increasing number of people come to live in cities.

Urbanized society – A society in which the majority of people live in cities in contrast to rural society.

Urban-overload hypothesis – Assumes that city dwellers react to excessive stimulation by avoiding interpersonal involvement.

Validity – The extent to which a measure represents accurately what it is supposed to represent.

Variables – Attributes (e.g., sex, age, height, weight) that differ from one person or case to the next.

Vertical Mobility – Upward or downward change in a person’s social status.

Veteran Status – Whether or not an individual has served in a nation’s armed forces (or other uniformed service).

Visual dominance behavior – Is the tendency of high-status positions to look more fixedly at lower-status people when speaking than when listening.

Vividness – The intensity or emotional interest of a stimulus.

WASP (n.) – The acronym translates to (W)hite (A)nglo (S)axon (P)rotestant, a term used in the United States to refer to the demographic of people who are of this ancestry.  Often refers to white English-speaking persons of European descent in England or North America, not of Hispanic or French origin.


Wealth – All a person’s material assets, including income, land, and other types of property. It is the basis of economic and often social status.

Welfare (n.) – Economic assistance provided by the government to persons in need.

Weltanschaung – A worldview is a term from the German word Weltanschauung. Welt is the German word for “world”, and Anschauung is the German word for “view” or “outlook.” Usually it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world in order to function. A “cosmology” is a “worldview” on a grand scale, reflecting not only the workings of one’s “world” but its relation to the rest of the entire cosmos.

Westernization – The acculturative influence of Western expansion on native cultures.

Wetback – Derogatory US term used to describe Mexican illegal immigrants, who allegedly entered the country by swimming the Rio Grande.

White Nigger / Wigger / Whigger / Wigga – Derogatory term used in 19th-century United States to describe the Irish. Nowadays used mainly to demean any White person as being

White Trash or to describe white youth that imitate urban black youth by means of clothing style, mannerisms, and slang speech.

White Privilege– refers to the many subtle but pervasive ways in which European Americans experience advantages and entitlements, often without being aware of it, that are not available to ethnic minorities.

Work space – Work station or area in an office or factory where a single individual regularly works.

Working class – Also called proletariat. Those who must sell their labor to survive. It is the antithesis of the bourgeoisie in Marx’s class analysis.

Working self-concept – The specific aspects of an individual’s identity that are activated by the role the individual is playing at any particular time.

World system – A term coined by the historian Immanuel Wallerstein to designate an economic unit, articulated by trade networks extending far beyond the boundaries of individual political units (nation states), and linking them together in a larger functioning unit.

Worldview – Is the English translation of the German word Weltanschaung. Also called World View.

Xenophile – is a person attracted to everything that is foreign, especially to foreign peoples, manners, or cultures.

Xenophobe -is a person who is fearful or contemptuous of anything foreign, especially of strangers or foreign peoples or cultures.

Xenophobia -The belief that people and things from other countries are dangerous and always have ulterior motives. Xenophobia is an irrational fear or hatred of anything foreign or unfamiliar.

Yang -Yin and Yang are two opposing and complementing aspects of phenomena in Chinese philosophy. Yin qualities are hot, fire, restless, hard, dry, excitement, non-substantial, rapidity, and correspond to the day.

YAVIS– Acronym for Young, Attractive, Verbal, Intelligent, and Successful; people with these characteristics are most likely to be selected by counselors to receive help.

Yellow (n.) – A term used to refer to people of the Asian Diaspora. Although the use of this word finds its roots as derogatory slang birthed in the era of exploration and colonialism, it has recently become more prevalent in academia and among Asian communities in the U.S. who use the word to embrace their ethnic origins and express pride in their identity.

Yin -Yin and Yang are two opposing and complementing aspects of phenomena in Chinese philosophy. Yin qualities are characterized as soft, substantial, water, cold, conserving, tranquil, gentle, and corresponds to the night.

Yuppie (n.) – “yuppie” is commonly used to refer to an 1980’s and early 1990’s term for financially secure, upper-middle class young people in their 20’s and early 30’s. It translates to

“(y)oung (u)pwardly –mobile (p)rofessionals” of the baby-boomer generation.


Zooarchaeology – The study of faunal remains found in archaeological sites and their cultural significance.

Zoomorphic – “Animal-like“. refers to art-work or decorated objects with an animal motif or appearance.


Glossary of Intercultural Terms

List of Intercultural –ion Terms

List of Intercultural –ion Terms Flashcards

List of Intercultural -Isms

List of Intercultural -Isms Flashcards

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