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The dominant cultural identity

DrZoidberg

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Here's a thought experiment I've been mulling about in my head.

Why do minority cultures exist at all? All dominant cultures must have started out small at some point, rubbed up against another culture and over time subsumed them. Not because they are assholes. But because members of both cultures are smart and want to get along.

Why would anybody want to cling to a minority culture when you live in another dominant culture?

I work with well educated people. Minimum masters degrees. A lot of phd's. Everybody thoroughly middle class. I am also an immigrant. I work with quite a few immigrants.

People who are well educated and middle-class tend to put a lot of effort to adapt to the culture they get to. That's pretty much what education is. Tools to allow us to adapt to novel situations so we function in groups and can excel.

The working class and the poor, seem to struggle with this. When they emigrate they seem to thrust their heels down and resist assimilation as much as possible.

My Middle-class Hungarian Jewish ex wife came from Budapest where everything was about playing down their Jewishness and playing up their Hungarianess. She moved to Israel and played up her Jewishness. She moved to Sweden and again played down her Jewishness.

This brings me to the point of belonging to the dominant ethnic and cultural group. Why would you want to belong to a minority? If you can help it, why do you cling to an identity that isn't doing anything for you?

I work with so many Arab and Muslim immigrants who make a point of eating extra helpings of pork at Christmas parties and happily drink beer. These are well educated middle-class Arabs. I too make a point of eating foods which Danes love which Swedes don't eat, because we think it's gross.

My way of joking now is Danish. Not Swedish. Yes, there's huge differences. Perhaps our greatest cultural difference.

Whenever I travel I always spend months ahead studying the culture, learning as much as I can of the language. In order for me to, as effortlessly as possible, function in that country.

To me culture has nothing to do with pride. It's simply about making social interaction, where ever you find yourself, simple and easy. Isn't that what everybody wants?

If that is so, why do minority cultures even exist?
 

rousseau

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You might be interested in reading The Politics of Cultural Pluralism by Crawford Young. He won an award for it from the American Political Science Association in 1979. It talks about exactly this topic.
 

untermensche

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If children are indoctrinated at a young age that indoctrination is very deep and long lasting.
 

Politesse

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Let's start at the beginning... literally. Cultural formation is a process that begins when you are in the womb (think food tolerances), and progresses over your lifetime. As an adult, you can make certain choices about your development as a social person, but your primary cultural formation is something that is well-ingrained by the time you are toddling around on two legs. At that point, the people who are raising you are your dominant influences, and whether or not you like it, the culture you are raised in will always be a part of you. It's also your point of connection to your family and friends; spitting in their faces to achieve wealth and prestige in a dominating culture is not as easy to do emotionally as you might be thinking, and its also a considerable risk from a rational perspective, as there is no guarantee that severing your connection to your existing social support network will guarantee acceptance in the new one you're trying to gain access to. Indeed, in almost all of the examples you cite, Judaism and Islam in Europe, lower classes in Europe, there are entire political parties dedicated to resisting their assimilation into the upper classes and severely punishing those who fail to "pass". You had it easy, because jokes aside there isn't an overwhelming structural social animus between Danes and Swedes at this point in time. While you might want to become a Dane and even feel some degree of social pressure to do so, there aren't serious material consequences if you fail at your attempt in the day to day. Indeed, your presentation of Danishness probably isn't as convincing as you think; it's just that no one really minds. The situation is very different for a member of a persecuted minority social class. You might be mocked but you won't be arrested. Swedes in Denmark may be a numerical minority, but they aren't systematically denied employment, housing, schooling, business, freedom of religious practice, and so forth. You therefore have much less motivation to rely on an ethnized community fellow of Swedes for basic survival as would, say, a Mexican or Lebanese immigrant living in Detroit or a Malian refugee in Bordeaux. Not everyone has the luxury of "simple and easy" cultural exploration and reinvention.

In any case, even at the level of base desire, not everyone, faced with a violent oppressive force bent on destroying everything they hold dear, immediately thinks "I must find a way to join these people!" So we should take variations of personality into account as well.
 

rousseau

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Let's start at the beginning... literally. Cultural formation is a process that begins when you are in the womb (think food tolerances), and progresses over your lifetime. As an adult, you can make certain choices about your development as a social person, but your primary cultural formation is something that is well-ingrained by the time you are toddling around on two legs. At that point, the people who are raising you are your dominant influences, and whether or not you like it, the culture you are raised in will always be a part of you. It's also your point of connection to your family and friends; spitting in their faces to achieve wealth and prestige in a dominating culture is not as easy to do emotionally as you might be thinking, and its also a considerable risk from a rational perspective, as there is no guarantee that severing your connection to your existing social support network will guarantee acceptance in the new one you're trying to gain access to. Indeed, in almost all of the examples you cite, Judaism and Islam in Europe, lower classes in Europe, there are entire political parties dedicated to resisting their assimilation into the upper classes and severely punishing those who fail to "pass". You had it easy, because jokes aside there isn't an overwhelming structural social animus between Danes and Swedes at this point in time. While you might want to become a Dane and even feel some degree of social pressure to do so, there aren't serious material consequences if you fail at your attempt in the day to day. Indeed, your presentation of Danishness probably isn't as convincing as you think; it's just that no one really minds. The situation is very different for a member of a persecuted minority social class. You might be mocked but you won't be arrested. Swedes in Denmark may be a numerical minority, but they aren't systematically denied employment, housing, schooling, business, freedom of religious practice, and so forth. You therefore have much less motivation to rely on an ethnized community fellow of Swedes for basic survival as would, say, a Mexican or Lebanese immigrant living in Detroit or a Malian refugee in Bordeaux. Not everyone has the luxury of "simple and easy" cultural exploration and reinvention.

In any case, even at the level of base desire, not everyone, faced with a violent oppressive force bent on destroying everything they hold dear, immediately thinks "I must find a way to join these people!" So we should take variations of personality into account as well.

This is a good post.

In my view, to simplify it a bit you're basically looking at what is in my interest as an individual. Cultural identity is somewhat fluid, and people will adapt to new cultures if and to the extent that it's in their interest to do so. But as Politesse mentions the variables are complex and dynamic.

Crawford Young's study focuses on Africa with it's highly complex (culturally plural) communities, which make for some interesting case studies.
 

J842P

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Let's start at the beginning... literally. Cultural formation is a process that begins when you are in the womb (think food tolerances), and progresses over your lifetime. As an adult, you can make certain choices about your development as a social person, but your primary cultural formation is something that is well-ingrained by the time you are toddling around on two legs. At that point, the people who are raising you are your dominant influences, and whether or not you like it, the culture you are raised in will always be a part of you. It's also your point of connection to your family and friends; spitting in their faces to achieve wealth and prestige in a dominating culture is not as easy to do emotionally as you might be thinking, and its also a considerable risk from a rational perspective, as there is no guarantee that severing your connection to your existing social support network will guarantee acceptance in the new one you're trying to gain access to. Indeed, in almost all of the examples you cite, Judaism and Islam in Europe, lower classes in Europe, there are entire political parties dedicated to resisting their assimilation into the upper classes and severely punishing those who fail to "pass". You had it easy, because jokes aside there isn't an overwhelming structural social animus between Danes and Swedes at this point in time. While you might want to become a Dane and even feel some degree of social pressure to do so, there aren't serious material consequences if you fail at your attempt in the day to day. Indeed, your presentation of Danishness probably isn't as convincing as you think; it's just that no one really minds. The situation is very different for a member of a persecuted minority social class. You might be mocked but you won't be arrested. Swedes in Denmark may be a numerical minority, but they aren't systematically denied employment, housing, schooling, business, freedom of religious practice, and so forth. You therefore have much less motivation to rely on an ethnized community fellow of Swedes for basic survival as would, say, a Mexican or Lebanese immigrant living in Detroit or a Malian refugee in Bordeaux. Not everyone has the luxury of "simple and easy" cultural exploration and reinvention.

In any case, even at the level of base desire, not everyone, faced with a violent oppressive force bent on destroying everything they hold dear, immediately thinks "I must find a way to join these people!" So we should take variations of personality into account as well.

Yes, at least looking at the poor immigrants from Central America that I know, it was basically a matter of the path of least resistance. Most came barely knowing how to read Spanish, let alone speak and read English. They work hard, and live close to other Central Americans.

I will say, I think you are speaking nonsense saying that a Mexican would be systematically denied employment, housing, schooling, business, and freedom of religious practice.

I suppose I've never been to Detroit, that might be a special case. But the United States of America is one of the easiest countries to assimilate to, and is incredibly welcoming of foreigners. Certainly, much more welcoming to a Guatemalan or Mexican than Europe, South America, East Asia. Pretty much anywhere else I can think of.
 

untermensche

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The US is a mix.

But there are a lot of very unwelcoming people.

We don't teach Spanish to all children in the schools because of ignorant unwelcoming people.

Even though it would open up those children to a lot of things.
 

DrZoidberg

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You might be interested in reading The Politics of Cultural Pluralism by Crawford Young. He won an award for it from the American Political Science Association in 1979. It talks about exactly this topic.

Do you care to summarize?
 

DrZoidberg

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Let's start at the beginning... literally. Cultural formation is a process that begins when you are in the womb (think food tolerances), and progresses over your lifetime. As an adult, you can make certain choices about your development as a social person, but your primary cultural formation is something that is well-ingrained by the time you are toddling around on two legs. At that point, the people who are raising you are your dominant influences, and whether or not you like it, the culture you are raised in will always be a part of you. It's also your point of connection to your family and friends; spitting in their faces to achieve wealth and prestige in a dominating culture is not as easy to do emotionally as you might be thinking, and its also a considerable risk from a rational perspective, as there is no guarantee that severing your connection to your existing social support network will guarantee acceptance in the new one you're trying to gain access to. Indeed, in almost all of the examples you cite, Judaism and Islam in Europe, lower classes in Europe, there are entire political parties dedicated to resisting their assimilation into the upper classes and severely punishing those who fail to "pass".

Sure. But a culture that punishes you from assimilating into another culture is worthless. You're better off dumping it, no matter what. It's like a jealous husband at a swinger party. While it might give you some support and stability in life, it prevents you from having a life. Or to put it more plainly, something I've learned from a life of open relationships. If you're generous with letting your wife fuck other guys, what you get back from that is many times over, including rock solid loyalty and love. Trying to control your loved ones can only backfire. In one way or another.

I have and have had friends and colleagues who have come from very strict and conservative backgrounds. It's my friends and colleagues, so it's a self selected group. But they've all turned their backs on their home culture. Since it only got in the way for them in life. Some were ostracized. Some were ostracized and then later regained contact. Some maintained relations with their home culture. But these are well educated highly intelligent middle class men and women working in a field with a perpetual labour shortage. I understand they had options poor people might not have.

You had it easy, because jokes aside there isn't an overwhelming structural social animus between Danes and Swedes at this point in time. While you might want to become a Dane and even feel some degree of social pressure to do so, there aren't serious material consequences if you fail at your attempt in the day to day. Indeed, your presentation of Danishness probably isn't as convincing as you think; it's just that no one really minds.

Of course I feel a social pressure to do so. I'm an immigrant. Any immigrant who doesn't feel that pressure should get the fuck out of the country IMHO. The pressure comes from feeling like you're a stone in a shoe. It's constant daily little complications about you not understanding what's going on or you not doing what you should to make social interaction smooth. Every immigrant I've ever worked with has worked hard on learning all of this. They've studied it like you read for an exam. I did. There's books on this. Loads and loads of books on it.

The situation is very different for a member of a persecuted minority social class. You might be mocked but you won't be arrested.

If you belong to persecuted minority, if you are able, leave that minority. It's really simple.

It doesn't work each time. My Hungarian Jewish ex wife, before WW2 their family did everything they could to hide their Jewishness. They were upper middle class. They did keep their Jewish name. But they couldn't have been more assimilated. They were even fake Christians. They still got gobbled up by the Auschwitz machine. So it's not a fail safe method.

But as an individual, if your minority is persecuted why cling to it? Why not leave ASAP? Back when homosexuality was illegal they were closeted. That's the smart way to be a minority in a world where it's dangerous to be so.

Swedes in Denmark may be a numerical minority, but they aren't systematically denied employment, housing, schooling, business, freedom of religious practice, and so forth. You therefore have much less motivation to rely on an ethnized community fellow of Swedes for basic survival as would, say, a Mexican or Lebanese immigrant living in Detroit or a Malian refugee in Bordeaux. Not everyone has the luxury of "simple and easy" cultural exploration and reinvention.

Danes prefer hiring Swedes over other Danes. And they prefer tenants that are Swedish over Danes. Swedes are more conscientious, honest, submit on the deadline and pay their rent on time. Swedish culture makes Swedes a bunch of miserable hard-working fucks incapable of enjoying life. Danes are more relaxed about life. For good and for ill.

In any case, even at the level of base desire, not everyone, faced with a violent oppressive force bent on destroying everything they hold dear, immediately thinks "I must find a way to join these people!" So we should take variations of personality into account as well.

It doesn't matter your personality. It's always beneficial. No matter what you want to get done in life. Your personality can make it harder or easier. But it's an instant pay off.
 

DrZoidberg

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Crawford Young's study focuses on Africa with it's highly complex (culturally plural) communities, which make for some interesting case studies.

If you live in a country where tribal affiliation is the single most important key to social advancement then obviously you're going to wear your tribal belonging like peacock feathers. It's your only ticket anywhere no matter how slim.

But countries with advanced economies, low corruption and a working legal system have no use for this. So I'm not sure how it compares?

Tribal cultures tend to have adult adoption. So if you're hellbent on advancing in spite of your unfortunate background there are ways.
 

rousseau

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You might be interested in reading The Politics of Cultural Pluralism by Crawford Young. He won an award for it from the American Political Science Association in 1979. It talks about exactly this topic.

Do you care to summarize?

It's been a while since I went through it. I flipped through it last night, and a lot of it is actually how cultural pluralism plays out in intra-state politics, but IIRC there were a few chapters on cultural diversity and it's dynamism.

Difficult to summarize, my post above is about as close as I could get.
 

Swammerdami

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I find OP's perspective too limited. For starters, look at "All dominant cultures must have started out small at some point, rubbed up against another culture and over time subsumed them. Not because they are assholes. But because members of both cultures are smart and want to get along." This is a glib dismissal of countless genocides.

Some people are very religious and don't want to give up their religion just to blend in. Others have vivid and poignant memories of their upbringing far away, and cling to them. For some people their cultural values are more important than material advancement.

And, American blacks are to a large extent inextricably linked to a certain "culture" unless they can alter their skin color.

Even the notion of "dominant culture" is ambiguous. Laotian language and Laotian cuisine are dominant in many provinces of Thailand. Should these people retain their locally dominant culture? Or adopt Bangkok's culture?

One point I might agree with OP on. In the U.S. intolerant white rednecks are now a minority. Overall in the U.S. a more tolerant multicultural attitude is more dominant. I'd like to see the rednecks give up their minority "culture." :)
 

DrZoidberg

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I find OP's perspective too limited. For starters, look at "All dominant cultures must have started out small at some point, rubbed up against another culture and over time subsumed them. Not because they are assholes. But because members of both cultures are smart and want to get along." This is a glib dismissal of countless genocides.

In ancient politics, if you resist your conqueror = genocide or slavery. If you surrender peacefully = subject people who pay tribute.

Genocide was a kind of collective punishment to scare other city states into submitting peacefully.

They did it because it works. The amount of genocide is in relation to how quickly your imperial troops can move. The slower the movement the greater the incentive to rebel. That's why genocides under Roman rule dropped sharply. The Roman roads made it less profitable to rebel.

Mostly the ancients didn't murder each other in mass genocides. Mostly. Conquerors were trying to avoid it if they could. They only did it because nobody had figured out a better system to rule an empire yet.

Usually, in the ancient world, various cultures got along just fine. Racism wasn't really a thing. It was more important what your family was than what ethnic group or what religion you had. So cultures did rub off on each other. Ancient Rome was incredibly cosmopolitan and open. They picked up all kinds of behaviors and practices from the cultures they ruled.

The nature and type of genocides after the rise of nationalism 1890 ca is a different thing all together. You can't compare them. These genocides make no sense either because the nation and their ethnic makeup is almost a complete fantasy.

Nationalistic genocides are much more cruel and pointless. But one nation can contain a number of cultures who, as long as they maintain certain superficial symbols can coexist just fine within the same nation. So even in the age of nationalistic genocides cultures still rub up against each other.

Some people are very religious and don't want to give up their religion just to blend in.

I think that just comes down to intelligence. Smart people will give up their religion. Stupid people won't.

Others have vivid and poignant memories of their upbringing far away, and cling to them. For some people their cultural values are more important than material advancement.

It's not just material advancement. It's everything. It opens up any and all possibilities. There's no reason not to embrace the dominant culture. I'm talking from the perspective of the individual immigrant now.

And, American blacks are to a large extent inextricably linked to a certain "culture" unless they can alter their skin color.

Sure. Fair point. But that's not what I'm talking about. They're forced into a minority, regardless of their own actions. But even so, I'm sure there's ways to gain access to "white culture" as a black American. As long as they settle for being settle class citizens. While not optimal, from the perspective of the individual, it can still be worth it. It's still shit though. And nothing I'm defending. But from the individual's perspective we're always better off accepting the rules of the society we find ourselves in and adapt. If we're able. I'm well aware that in, especially, American culture that wasn't always possible, Jim Crow laws etc.

Even the notion of "dominant culture" is ambiguous. Laotian language and Laotian cuisine are dominant in many provinces of Thailand. Should these people retain their locally dominant culture? Or adopt Bangkok's culture?

The dominant culture is regional. It's whatever culture is in your benefit to adopt if you live there. I'm not making a value judgement. I'm just speaking from the perspective of an immigrant to another country.

Also, every region has a number of coexisting cultures. Class based cultures being one. Somebody middle class in Milan, Stockholm, London or even Bankok will have common with each other than they would with the average Italian farmer.

One point I might agree with OP on. In the U.S. intolerant white rednecks are now a minority. Overall in the U.S. a more tolerant multicultural attitude is more dominant. I'd like to see the rednecks give up their minority "culture." :)

But that's how cultures become minorities. If a behavior stops being useful it stops. At least among rational agents. Over time only the stupid members of that minority should cling to that identity. If people are smart and rational agents any minority should become smaller and smaller until it's gone. Certainly if members of that minority are acting out of individual self interest.
 

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Annd, within three posts, we have a strraight-up defense of genocide. I'm not going to bother getting drawn into this one any further, I think everyone can see what's happening here.
 

rousseau

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But that's how cultures become minorities. If a behavior stops being useful it stops. At least among rational agents. Over time only the stupid members of that minority should cling to that identity. If people are smart and rational agents any minority should become smaller and smaller until it's gone. Certainly if members of that minority are acting out of individual self interest.

Being smart and a rational agent doesn't always mean joining the dominant culture, is what you're not getting. Yes, in general acculturation flows toward dominant cultures (for instance, how many Africans do you see moving to North America versus the other way around).

But you're over-simplifying the equation, it's not just a matter of people continually being absorbed by a culture with greater benefits. The process of cultural change is multi-faceted and highly complex.
 

DrZoidberg

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But that's how cultures become minorities. If a behavior stops being useful it stops. At least among rational agents. Over time only the stupid members of that minority should cling to that identity. If people are smart and rational agents any minority should become smaller and smaller until it's gone. Certainly if members of that minority are acting out of individual self interest.

Being smart and a rational agent doesn't always mean joining the dominant culture, is what you're not getting. Yes, in general acculturation flows toward dominant cultures (for instance, how many Africans do you see moving to North America versus the other way around).

But you're over-simplifying the equation, it's not just a matter of people continually being absorbed by a culture with greater benefits. The process of cultural change is multi-faceted and highly complex.

The way cultural change works over time is that every culture in proximity influences each other. Culture is just stuff that people do. We're social animals.
 

DrZoidberg

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Annd, within three posts, we have a strraight-up defense of genocide. I'm not going to bother getting drawn into this one any further, I think everyone can see what's happening here.

Explaining why ancient genocides happened is not defending them. Saying that Hitler was a bad person isn't the same thing as justifying his crimes.
 

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It's not just material advancement. It's everything. It opens up any and all possibilities. There's no reason not to embrace the dominant culture. I'm talking from the perspective of the individual immigrant now.

You seem convinced that any immigrant acting in their best interests would assimilate, but maybe this depends on the individual's situation.

Assimilation is much easier for some people than others. If you're highly educated then it's easier to assimilate, which might include learning a new language. If your ethnic minority is considerably different than the majority, then you might find it harder to assimilate than someone whose minority culture is relatively similar. For some, assimilation might just be more trouble than it's worth.

To look at it another way, not assimilating might be the better survival strategy for some individuals. They may have a social network of other expats, through whom they can find an adequate job and a sense of community. They might be able to get by just fine without having to learn a new language, or adapting to different social norms.
 

DrZoidberg

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It's not just material advancement. It's everything. It opens up any and all possibilities. There's no reason not to embrace the dominant culture. I'm talking from the perspective of the individual immigrant now.

You seem convinced that any immigrant acting in their best interests would assimilate, but maybe this depends on the individual's situation.

Yes. I think that firmly. I think it's highly unlikely there's a situation where this isn't true.

Worth noting is that second generation immigrants tend to develop cross cultural identities. Where they identify with both. Ie, they can effortlessly switch modes back and forward. Why would everybody who could not do that? That's always what I'm gunning for even when I'm just a tourist.

Assimilation is much easier for some people than others. If you're highly educated then it's easier to assimilate, which might include learning a new language. If your ethnic minority is considerably different than the majority, then you might find it harder to assimilate than someone whose minority culture is relatively similar. For some, assimilation might just be more trouble than it's worth.

Yes, it's easier if you're educated. But here's the kicker, it's always worth it. The pay off is immediate. Any investment, no matter how small, pays off. The big, most obvious things are the easiest. Which gives the most pay off. It's the details that are difficult. Which is a huge investment for very small returns. My point is that it's always worth it, especially in the beginning.

I think it's a question of ability, intelligence and confidence. Some people are extremely fragile and moving outside their comfort zone, no matter how little risks shattering their entire self image. I think there's a lot of people like this. Especially among the working class.

I don't think it's more trouble than it's worth. I think these people are limiting themselves out of fear. Just irrational fear. It's like people going with an infected tooth for month because they're afraid of the dentist.

To look at it another way, not assimilating might be the better survival strategy for some individuals. They may have a social network of other expats, through whom they can find an adequate job and a sense of community. They might be able to get by just fine without having to learn a new language, or adapting to different social norms.

I think it's more about ones peer group. We've all seen members of an immigrant group hanging out in their cultural appreciation society café, badly dressed and all looking depressed. They're comforted by what they recognize even if it only gets in the way of their life. These people clinging to their own culture is more a kind of self harm behaviour IMHO. It does nothing but doom them to a life of poverty. I've met many immigrants in Stockholm and Copenhagen who have lived here 30+ years and still can't speak Danish or Swedish. Especially Somali immigrants. I somehow doubt that can in any way benefit them.

We can turn it around. People who belong to the majority culture and embrace it to the extreme, neo-nazis and nationlists. What drives these guys? Isn't it that they're such complete losers in life that they don't feel they have anything to be proud about that they have to cling to something external, their nation/race/ethnic group. I get the same vibe from many of these immigrant groups clinging to their home cultural identity and norms.

Thinking that your own norms is the best for you is arrogant to the extreme. No, it's not. We can change norms like underwear. I adopt whatever norms work best for me where I found myself. I've always done that. Regardless of me belonging to the dominant culture or me being an immigrant. I strongly believe it's healthy to question the norms you were born with. It's among the most important things in life in order to grow up and become an adult IMHO.
 
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bigfield

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Worth noting is that second generation immigrants tend to develop cross cultural identities. Where they identify with both. Ie, they can effortlessly switch modes back and forward. Why would everybody who could not do that?

My guess is that's such a thing comes naturally to second generation immigrants because they are immersed in both cultures from a young age. But I was under the impression that you were focusing on first generation immigrants. I would not expect first generation immigrants to be able to do that.

Yes, it's easier if you're educated. But here's the kicker, it's always worth it. The pay off is immediate. Any investment, no matter how small, pays off. The big, most obvious things are the easiest. Which gives the most pay off. It's the details that are difficult. Which is a huge investment for very small returns. My point is that it's always worth it, especially in the beginning.

The most obvious thing, to me, is language, and learning a language is not easy, especially if the language is unlike one's native language.

I think it's more about ones peer group. We've all seen members of an immigrant group hanging out in their cultural appreciation society café, badly dressed and all looking depressed. They're comforted by what they recognize even if it only gets in the way of their life. These people clinging to their own culture is more a kind of self harm behaviour IMHO. It does nothing but doom them to a life of poverty. I've met many immigrants in Stockholm and Copenhagen who have lived here 30+ years and still can't speak Danish or Swedish. Especially Somali immigrants. I somehow doubt that can in any way benefit them.

LOL, I've only seen those café scenes in movies and TV shows, but then again I don't go out much.

If someone has lived in Copenhagen for 30+ years, but can't speak Danish, then that tells us that they didn't need to speak Danish in order to get by in Copenhagen. From their point of view, those 30+ years, with the melancholic ethnic café, might seem like a success, albeit a relatively modest one. I'm just not convinced that it's as bad for them as you are making out.

We can turn it around. People who belong to the majority culture and embrace it to the extreme, neo-nazis and nationlists. What drives these guys? Isn't it that they're such complete losers in life that they don't feel they have anything to be proud about that they have to cling to something external, their nation/race/ethnic group. I get the same vibe from many of these immigrant groups clinging to their home cultural identity and norms.

I don't think political movements are analogous to cultures.
 

J842P

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Annd, within three posts, we have a strraight-up defense of genocide. I'm not going to bother getting drawn into this one any further, I think everyone can see what's happening here.

..
 
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Loren Pechtel

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It's not just material advancement. It's everything. It opens up any and all possibilities. There's no reason not to embrace the dominant culture. I'm talking from the perspective of the individual immigrant now.

You seem convinced that any immigrant acting in their best interests would assimilate, but maybe this depends on the individual's situation.

Assimilation is much easier for some people than others. If you're highly educated then it's easier to assimilate, which might include learning a new language. If your ethnic minority is considerably different than the majority, then you might find it harder to assimilate than someone whose minority culture is relatively similar. For some, assimilation might just be more trouble than it's worth.

To look at it another way, not assimilating might be the better survival strategy for some individuals. They may have a social network of other expats, through whom they can find an adequate job and a sense of community. They might be able to get by just fine without having to learn a new language, or adapting to different social norms.

There's another factor at work, also: How much you have to assimilate in order to function. A simple observation:

Amongst the immigrants I know who married people who spoke their language the English ability is very poor--communication is difficult or impossible. Amongst the immigrants I know who married people who didn't speak their language English ability is always at least passable. The need to communicate with one's partner is a very powerful force. (And, no, this isn't just selection bias. It is possible to fall in love with someone you struggle to communicate with. Our first years we carried a dictionary everywhere.)
 

DrZoidberg

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My guess is that's such a thing comes naturally to second generation immigrants because they are immersed in both cultures from a young age. But I was under the impression that you were focusing on first generation immigrants. I would not expect first generation immigrants to be able to do that.

I'm focusing on anybody who belongs to any culture.

I think they're able to do it. If they're open to adapt.

The most obvious thing, to me, is language, and learning a language is not easy, especially if the language is unlike one's native language.

It's just a question of practice and motivation. If you are physically in the country where you are trying to learn the language there's no excuse. Just going to buy milk is a free language lesson, if you want.

I think it's more about ones peer group. We've all seen members of an immigrant group hanging out in their cultural appreciation society café, badly dressed and all looking depressed. They're comforted by what they recognize even if it only gets in the way of their life. These people clinging to their own culture is more a kind of self harm behaviour IMHO. It does nothing but doom them to a life of poverty. I've met many immigrants in Stockholm and Copenhagen who have lived here 30+ years and still can't speak Danish or Swedish. Especially Somali immigrants. I somehow doubt that can in any way benefit them.

LOL, I've only seen those café scenes in movies and TV shows, but then again I don't go out much.

If someone has lived in Copenhagen for 30+ years, but can't speak Danish, then that tells us that they didn't need to speak Danish in order to get by in Copenhagen. From their point of view, those 30+ years, with the melancholic ethnic café, might seem like a success, albeit a relatively modest one. I'm just not convinced that it's as bad for them as you are making out.

Exactly. They don't need to learn Danish. But that's not the point. The point is giving yourself maximum opportunity to have a flourishing life in your country, new or otherwise. People don't need to do anything.
 

bigfield

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Exactly. They don't need to learn Danish. But that's not the point. The point is giving yourself maximum opportunity to have a flourishing life in your country, new or otherwise. People don't need to do anything.

When I was learning about natural selection, one of the key ideas I needed to get my head around was the idea that it doesn't produce the best possible evolutions, it just produces evolutions that are good enough to survive. I think the same kind of idea can be applied here: we should expect that people will often choose strategies that work well enough, the "minimum effective dosage" of assimilation, rather than choosing maximum effort for maximum opportunity.
 

fromderinside

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Ground work: Top down meaning of "The dominant cultural identity"

 Culture

is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and norms found in humansocieties, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups.[1]Humans acquire culture through the learning processes of enculturation and socialization, which is shown by the diversity of cultures across societies.
A cultural norm codifies acceptable conduct in society; it serves as a guideline for behavior, dress, language, and demeanor in a situation, which serves as a template for expectations in a social group.

 cultural identity

Cultural identity is the identity of belonging to a group. It is part of a person's self-conception and self-perception and is related to nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality or any kind of social group that has its own distinct culture. In this way, cultural identity is both characteristic of the individual but also of the culturally identical group of members sharing the same cultural identity or upbringing.[1]
Cultural (and ethnic) identity is a subset of the communication theory of identity that establishes four "frames of identity" that allow us to view how we build identity. These frames include the personal frame, enactment of communication frame, relationship frame, and communal frame.

 Dominant culture

A dominant culture is a cultural practice that is dominant within a particular political, social or economic entity, in which multiple cultures are present. It may refer to a language, religion/ritual, social value and/or social custom. These features are often a norm for an entire society. It achieves dominance by being perceived as pertaining to a majority of the population and having a significant presence in institutions relating to communication, education, artistic expression, law, government and business. The concept of "dominant culture" is generally used in academic discourse in fields such as sociology, anthropology and cultural studies.[1]


 Cultural pluralism

Cultural pluralism is a term used when smaller groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities, whereby their values and practices are accepted by the dominant culture, provided such are consistent with the laws and values of the wider society. As a sociological term, the definition and description of cultural pluralism has evolved over time. It has been described as not only a fact but a societal goal.[1]

 Minority culture

A minority group, by its original definition, refers to a group of people whose practices, race, religion, ethnicity, or other characteristics are fewer in numbers than the main groups of those classifications. However, in present-day sociology, a minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage as compared to members of a dominant social group.[1] Minority group membership is typically based on differences in observable characteristics or practices, such as: ethnicity (ethnic minority), race (racial minority), religion (religious minority), sexual orientation (sexual minority), or disability.[2] Utilizing the framework of intersectionality, it is important to recognize that an individual may simultaneously hold membership in multiple minority groups (e.g. both a racial and religious minority).[3][failed verification] Likewise, individuals may also be part of a minority group in regard to some characteristics, but part of a dominant group in regard to others.[3]

 Cultural appropriation

Cultural appropriation[1][2] is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from minority cultures, though not the opposite[3][1].[4]
According to critics of the practice, cultural appropriation differs from acculturation, assimilation, or equal cultural exchange in that this appropriation is a form of colonialism. When cultural elements are copied from a minority culture by members of a dominant culture, and these elements are used outside of their original cultural context ─ sometimes even against the expressly stated wishes of members of the originating culture – the practice is often received negatively.


them bones them bones them dry bones
 

DrZoidberg

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Exactly. They don't need to learn Danish. But that's not the point. The point is giving yourself maximum opportunity to have a flourishing life in your country, new or otherwise. People don't need to do anything.

When I was learning about natural selection, one of the key ideas I needed to get my head around was the idea that it doesn't produce the best possible evolutions, it just produces evolutions that are good enough to survive. I think the same kind of idea can be applied here: we should expect that people will often choose strategies that work well enough, the "minimum effective dosage" of assimilation, rather than choosing maximum effort for maximum opportunity.

Yeah. The reason a lot of people stay in bad relationships rather than breaking up and finding a new better partner. We're creatures of habit
 

fromderinside

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I think we're more addicts in search of habit. Not in search of actually. More likely to be addicts with the habit. Face it Oxycodone scandal couldn't have happened in the US is we weren't in search of some escape, call it pain if you must.

But being an American I'm pretty sure we're still looking for mommy's weight loss pill she got to stay in range of being attractive to people so she could get rid of that anxiety for needing someone, anyone, for company. Nothin more lonely than an American chasing cash or cash barons making more so one can remain popular.

Always been impressed with the image of a guy in a shiny cheap suit flashing cash and his Porsche key while alone at the bar. We're quite the hypocritical tribe here in Cash and Carry 'merica.

Seems we've exported most of that right back to Europe from whence we brought it, enriched it, monetized it, then sold it to ourselves.

Trying to get more dump in the sentence, writes he.
 

JohnG

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It would seem to me that a country that is devoid of cultural diversity, or aspires to be, is primed to go down some dark roads, as history would indicate.

It would be a bland society as well

Cultural uniformity is what’s at the heart of Trumpism. Some argue that Tucker Carlson is the driving force in RW politics in the US right now, with replacement theory. The imaginary war on CRT is creating a lot of stress with the mono-culture demographic in the US, as they feel that their “dominant” culture is under attack
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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It would seem to me that a country that is devoid of cultural diversity, or aspires to be, is primed to go down some dark roads, as history would indicate.

It would be a bland society as well

Cultural uniformity is what’s at the heart of Trumpism. Some argue that Tucker Carlson is the driving force in RW politics in the US right now, with replacement theory. The imaginary war on CRT is creating a lot of stress with the mono-culture demographic in the US, as they feel that their “dominant” culture is under attack
In other words a lot of people aren't real bright. Is that too harsh?
 

Politesse

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It would seem to me that a country that is devoid of cultural diversity, or aspires to be, is primed to go down some dark roads, as history would indicate.

It would be a bland society as well

Cultural uniformity is what’s at the heart of Trumpism. Some argue that Tucker Carlson is the driving force in RW politics in the US right now, with replacement theory. The imaginary war on CRT is creating a lot of stress with the mono-culture demographic in the US, as they feel that their “dominant” culture is under attack

Like Rush before him. But what does it say about us that there is always someone "like that" to tell people it's okay to think what they already feel?
 

fromderinside

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Critical Race Theory it is not. It's National Heritage Theory, an analysis of history in terms of Founder Nation heritage and principles. It specifically applies to the American origins and the effects of subsequent integration and assimilation of multiple cultures through original National framework principles. It is neither about race nor is it about critical anything.

The real problems in such method are in handling sensitivities of both the dominate and transcending populations outside original national heritages. That's the political dynamic. It is a discussion of changing perspectives which be broached with much attention to how are originating principles are stressed and updated to accommodate current constituencies.
 

DrZoidberg

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It would seem to me that a country that is devoid of cultural diversity, or aspires to be, is primed to go down some dark roads, as history would indicate.

It would be a bland society as well

Cultural uniformity is what’s at the heart of Trumpism. Some argue that Tucker Carlson is the driving force in RW politics in the US right now, with replacement theory. The imaginary war on CRT is creating a lot of stress with the mono-culture demographic in the US, as they feel that their “dominant” culture is under attack

But why would it be in an individuals best interest to be cultural flavour for the good of diversity? For the individual isn't it always dysfunktional? Please argue for how it can be in the individuals best interest to not join the dominant culture. What's in it for them?

I understand that diversity is good. But imho you haven't managed to argue for why anyone would benefit from not belonging to the dominant culture
 

JohnG

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It would seem to me that a country that is devoid of cultural diversity, or aspires to be, is primed to go down some dark roads, as history would indicate.

It would be a bland society as well

Cultural uniformity is what’s at the heart of Trumpism. Some argue that Tucker Carlson is the driving force in RW politics in the US right now, with replacement theory. The imaginary war on CRT is creating a lot of stress with the mono-culture demographic in the US, as they feel that their “dominant” culture is under attack

But why would it be in an individuals best interest to be cultural flavour for the good of diversity? For the individual isn't it always dysfunktional? Please argue for how it can be in the individuals best interest to not join the dominant culture. What's in it for them?

I understand that diversity is good. But imho you haven't managed to argue for why anyone would benefit from not belonging to the dominant culture

I see your point, but I would say a lot depends on the society in which one is considering being a part of the dominant culture.

If a society favors one specific culture, by allowing privileges to one group at the expense of its other citizens, I would say that is a flawed society, and the advantages of joining that society are likely to be superficial and short lived. In many cases you just can't join based on race. I guess one could change religion but it's not a simple thing to change ones worldview, anyway...

In the USA for example, one can join the dominant culture, but you may never have health care because of disgust at the idea of having your taxes help a person from an out-group. In that case, if enough people leave the dominant culture, Americans may one day be able to afford insulin.

I know you are specifically looking at whether the individual gains any benefit as opposed to a group, but I don't think we can really separate the one from the many here. A true social benefit will benefit the individual either directly or indirectly.
 
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DrZoidberg

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It would seem to me that a country that is devoid of cultural diversity, or aspires to be, is primed to go down some dark roads, as history would indicate.

It would be a bland society as well

Cultural uniformity is what’s at the heart of Trumpism. Some argue that Tucker Carlson is the driving force in RW politics in the US right now, with replacement theory. The imaginary war on CRT is creating a lot of stress with the mono-culture demographic in the US, as they feel that their “dominant” culture is under attack

But why would it be in an individuals best interest to be cultural flavour for the good of diversity? For the individual isn't it always dysfunktional? Please argue for how it can be in the individuals best interest to not join the dominant culture. What's in it for them?

I understand that diversity is good. But imho you haven't managed to argue for why anyone would benefit from not belonging to the dominant culture

I see your point, but I would say a lot depends on the society in which one is considering being a part of the dominant culture.

If a society favors one specific culture, by allowing privileges to one group at the expense of its other citizens, I would say that is a flawed society, and the advantages of joining that society are likely to be superficial and short lived. In many cases you just can't join based on race. I guess one could change religion but it's not a simple thing to change ones worldview, anyway...

In the USA for example, one can join the dominant culture, but you may never have health care because of disgust at the idea of having your taxes help a person from an out-group. In that case, if enough people leave the dominant culture, Americans may one day be able to afford insulin.

I know you are specifically looking at whether the individual gains any benefit as opposed to a group, but I don't think we can really separate the one from the many here. A true social benefit will benefit the individual either directly or indirectly.

This is another discussion. Richard Florida has already managed to show how cultural tolerance and economic prosperity are linked. The more tolerant the more affluent. I also think that the more open a culture the more dominant it gets. It's just maths. If a culture is insular it will have fewer social contact points, so therefore less opportunity to spread. The most open culture will become the most dominant. Open cultures will also get their dysfunctional aspects grated down over time. Since there's more contact with the outside it will be pushed towards simplicity and ease.

If we use languages as an analogue. The smaller the language the more complicated the grammar. The biggest languages are easiest to learn. Why? Because the more people learn it as a second language they will often fail on the hard bits, which will wear down the hard bits until they are gone. And all that remains is the efficient core of that original language. I think cultures are the same.

Since the bigger culture is the most open and flexible, why isn't it always best to join it? If openness and cultural diversity is linked to prosperity and tolerance, why do so many cling to a minority culture that is rigid an insular?
 

Swammerdami

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But why would it be in an individuals best interest to be cultural flavour for the good of diversity? For the individual isn't it always dysfunktional? Please argue for how it can be in the individuals best interest to not join the dominant culture. What's in it for them?

I understand that diversity is good. But imho you haven't managed to argue for why anyone would benefit from not belonging to the dominant culture

I answered this a month ago or so. Let me try again.

My wife and I lived in the U.S. for a while. My wife practices Buddhism, with teachings I have grown to respect far more than Christian teachings. Her Buddhism is an important part of her. In your view, had we continued to live in the U.S., should she have renounced her religious beliefs?

The shape of her face is slightly different from the Caucasian face. Should she have gotten a "nose job"? Or should we have never married?

I live in Thailand now and everyone knows I'm a Farang even before I open my mouth. Should I get a reverse nose job? I try to fit in occasionally at temple ceremonies, but am too clumsy and unaccustomed to get far. (Actually Farangs in Thailand benefit from a reverse-racism! Many Thais regard Farangs as superior. In your view should Thais try to act like Farangs?)
 

DrZoidberg

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But why would it be in an individuals best interest to be cultural flavour for the good of diversity? For the individual isn't it always dysfunktional? Please argue for how it can be in the individuals best interest to not join the dominant culture. What's in it for them?

I understand that diversity is good. But imho you haven't managed to argue for why anyone would benefit from not belonging to the dominant culture

I answered this a month ago or so. Let me try again.

My wife and I lived in the U.S. for a while. My wife practices Buddhism, with teachings I have grown to respect far more than Christian teachings. Her Buddhism is an important part of her. In your view, had we continued to live in the U.S., should she have renounced her religious beliefs?

The shape of her face is slightly different from the Caucasian face. Should she have gotten a "nose job"? Or should we have never married?

I live in Thailand now and everyone knows I'm a Farang even before I open my mouth. Should I get a reverse nose job? I try to fit in occasionally at temple ceremonies, but am too clumsy and unaccustomed to get far. (Actually Farangs in Thailand benefit from a reverse-racism! Many Thais regard Farangs as superior. In your view should Thais try to act like Farangs?)

My rule is, "whatever works". Whatever behavior that helps you reach your goals is what you should be doing. Do you really think a nose job is a worthwhile vehicle to help you in your journeys in Thailand? I highly doubt it.

I know a couple of farangs who speak fluent Thai. They have shown me that it's highly beneficial for their lifestyle in Thailand.

It's a question of investment of time and payoff. A nose job is expensive, and I suspect, with a limited return. You'd just come across as a superficial moron who don't understand how culture works. You'd look like a freak. Michael Jackson springs to mind. I'm not so sure it worked out so well for him.

As far as Buddhism. Buddhism is very well adapted to the modern western life and culture. Much more so than Christianity IMHO. While Christianity is now in the process of an upgrade. I absolutely see the impulse to just skip Christianity altogether and go for the more modern Buddhism (ie better adapted to modern life). I know quite a few practicing Buddhists who are also atheists. I used to attend weekly Zen meditations at a center secularists and atheists.

It's hard to speak of religion sweepingly. Since it's many things. But one perspective is functional. You already have a culture and your chosen religion should help you succeed within that culture.

Tina Turner is famously Buddhist. Would you consider her not part of American majority culture?
 

Swammerdami

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Do you really think a nose job is a worthwhile vehicle to help you in your journeys in Thailand? I highly doubt it.

I know a couple of farangs who speak fluent Thai. They have shown me that it's highly beneficial for their lifestyle in Thailand.

You couldn't tell that my comment about nose jobs was sarcastic? :confused: An effort to demonstrate the limits of your simple model?

BTW I have followed your advice to some degree: my Thai is rather fluent; and I can read Thai, though slowly. (I did meet one red-necky American who's been here for many years and brags that he's never learned more than a few words of the language.)
 

DrZoidberg

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Do you really think a nose job is a worthwhile vehicle to help you in your journeys in Thailand? I highly doubt it.

I know a couple of farangs who speak fluent Thai. They have shown me that it's highly beneficial for their lifestyle in Thailand.

You couldn't tell that my comment about nose jobs was sarcastic? :confused: An effort to demonstrate the limits of your simple model?

BTW I have followed your advice to some degree: my Thai is rather fluent; and I can read Thai, though slowly. (I did meet one red-necky American who's been here for many years and brags that he's never learned more than a few words of the language.)

I don't understand the point of your sarcasm. Sarcasm is usually directed against something. What was it directed against?
 

fromderinside

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Hey. Look at what I found hiding behind the couch. It's been there since '96

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1995-03-26-mn-47285-story.html

Asian Women Rate Western Beauty a Cut Above Their Own : Cosmetic surgery: From Thailand to South Korea to the Philippines, women who can afford it go under the knife to have their eyelids and noses altered. Not doing so crimps careers, they say.


As Thailand embraces fast-food restaurants, blue jeans and Hollywood movies in its zeal to Westernize, its women are having their faces nipped and tucked to fit in. Though many say they are not seeking to look Western, the higher nose bridges and smaller, folded eyelids they are getting are distinctly European.

This type of cosmetic surgery has taken off in much of male-dominated Asia, where beauty is a must for many women who want to get ahead. From South Korea to the Philippines to Malaysia, women who can afford it are going under the knife in hopes of achieving the now-popular European concept of beauty.

Time waste over?
 

OLDMAN

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America has become a divided nation where everything is political. The browning of America isn't a good or bad thing depending on your skin colour, why can't it simply be a thing that is happening? Both sides are equally to blame for the politicalization of all issues. But the media shares blame for allowing themselves to be drawn in and used like any other tool of the parties.
 
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