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2.2: Unit Reading and Activities

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    In this unit, we will be looking at daily life, which, if you did the Unit 1 final assignment, you have discovered is greatly influenced by culture, traditions, and geographic locations. There are also important connections to race, ethnicity, and gender. So, what is race, ethnicity, and gender?


    Work alone or with a partner, and write your own definitions of these words. Don’t use a dictionary! Use the knowledge and ideas you have to create meanings for these words.

    1) Race means…

    2) Ethnicity means…

    3) Gender means…

    Before we start discussing race, ethnicity, and gender, let’s review the meaning of culture and society. Edward B. Tyler (1871) provided the first definition of culture:

    Definition: Culture

    Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, arts, law, morals, custom, and any other habits acquired by humans who are members of a society.

    Tyler’s (1871) definition is important because many teachers, researchers, and cultural psychologists use this definition to understand and explain the basic meaning of culture. That said, it is important to know that there are many different definitions of culture, so find one that is easy for you to understand.

    Society is much easier to define: A community of people living in a particular country or region, and having shared customs, laws, and organizations. While most students think of the first part, it is the second part that is vital to the meaning of what is a society—shared customs, laws, and organizations, such as central government and educational institutions, like universities!

    Now that we have reviewed these important terms, let’s add to them by understanding the meanings of race, ethnicity, and gender:

    • Race is each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics, and sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.
    • Ethnicity is belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition. You will often hear the term ethnic group, which is a group of people who identify with each other based on common ancestry, as well as social, cultural, and national experiences.
    • Gender is the state of being male or female, typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones

    Many people use the terms “race” and “ethnicity” interchangeably, but this is actually incorrect based on the definitions given above. It is generally agreed by anthropologists that there are three races of the world[1]:

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Photo taken from

    Considering your race, ethnicity, and gender, let’s now look at what daily life looks like where you’re originally from and where you are living now. Sometimes these are different, even when they’re both the same country! The first thing to do is list as many aspects of daily life as you can.


    Work with a partner, and write some main components that make up daily life. For example, food makes up a huge part of daily life in any country! List your answers below. You can draw simple pictures, too!

    After you’re finished, look at page 17 and see how many components that you wrote down match the ones in the list of aspects of daily life!

    • Food
    • Clothing
    • Recreation
    • Government
    • Laws
    • Education
    • Language
    • Habits
    • Routines
    • History
    • Traditions
    • Religious Beliefs
    • Transportations
    • Economy
    • Daily Spending Habits
    • Environment
    • Popular Culture
    • Art
    • Music
    • Social Groups
    • Sports
    • Ethnic Groups

    It is interesting to remember that every point in this list can be looked at differently depending on the race, ethnicity, and gender of a person! For example, generally speaking, different regions of the world eat different foods; clothing varies depending on the ethnic group; and sports are different depending on gender (either by choice or defined by cultural rules and traditions, such as sumo in Japan). Our goal is to broaden our perspectives so that we are considering these cultural differences that impact the way we live.

    [1] It is important that everyone understands that this information is not the “correct” answer, but rather one viewpoint about race, ethnicity, and gender. These stances are meant to be springboards for critical thinking and open discussion. You are encouraged to conduct more research, and decide for yourself what you believe.

    This page titled 2.2: Unit Reading and Activities is shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Daniel Velasco.

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