What Is Cultural Appropriation?

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For as long as cultures have been meeting and clashing there has existed cultural exchange and a transference of cultural goods. This transfer is inevitable but when does this cultural exchange cross the threshold into cultural appropriation? While cultural appropriation has existed in many forms across time, in the modern world of globalization this phenomenon has become an issue ameliorated by the flow of information and how stretches from food and fashion to deeply cultural expression and traditions. As we move forward and aim to achieve a truly multicultural society, one must understand where lines are drawn and how to properly respect the cultural property of other groups. To begin this understanding, we would like to understand how an…show more content…
474) and this basic definition is the one that the average person is likely to know. This, though, does not sound very different from what we would understand to be cultural exchange. Therefore, we must further operationalize cultural appropriation as a separate concept. Cultural appropriation is entangled with the assimilation and exploitation of other cultures into the majority and concerns what the subordinate culture must do in order to survive or what it does to resist the dominant culture (Rogers, 2006). Because of these issues in particular, cultural appropriation differs greatly from cultural exchange, which we can understand as “reciprocal exchange of symbols, artifacts … or technologies between cultures with roughly equal levels of power” (Rogers, 2006, p. 477). Cultural appropriation cannot occur between two cultures with the similar levels of power, meaning that one must be classified as the majority and the other as the minority. Cultural appropriation can also be understood as cultural exploitation which is described as “the appropriation of elements of a subordinated culture by a dominant one without substantive reciprocity, permission, or…show more content…
Any one individual is not confined to just one group membership and can hold an almost innumerable amount of identities, any of which could possibly be classified as a majority or minority group. These identities are integral in “enable[ing] the individual to locate or define [themselves] in the social environment” (Ashforth & Mael, 1989, p. 21). This ability for an individual to establish their position within the social stratosphere serves as the foundation from which they can determine how to interact with any given situation. “Educational systems, religions, and legal systems spend a great deal of time educating people on the meaning of identities and…[the] proper behavior to specific life situations” (March, 1994, p. 62) meaning that the various identities that one connects with provides them with a mental and social schema of proper behaviors and decision making models. “Social situations which switch on or increase the prepotency of social identity should tend to produce their very own behavioral effects” (Tajfel, 1982). One of the most obvious examples of such is the socialization of traditional gender roles, wherein which women are taught to be kind, caring, and emotional while men are taught to be tough, strong, and stoic. Which leads to the assumption that

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