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Title:Cultural themes of northern Thailand: Knowledge and emotion in everyday life and the life goals of college students
Author(s):Wallace, Merle
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hill, Jacquetta
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Education, Educational Psychology
Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies
Education, Higher
Abstract:The aim of this study is to enhance our understanding about cultural knowledge and emotion which individuals use in their life goals and everyday experiences. Empirical evidence from a year-long ethnographic study of the life goals and activities of students attending a college in Chiangmai, a city in Northern Thailand, is presented and analyzed. The construct of cultural themes is proposed to explain the cultural knowledge and emotion these students learn and use in a variety of settings.
The cultural themes are constraining (after Goodenough, 1957) and nurturing (after Cole, 1991) because they provide a shared set of guidelines that facilitate activity and interaction among society's members. Cultural thematic knowledge-emotion structures are learned and used across diverse settings of activity and social interaction. They specify what is morally right, and thus, necessarily entail goals, including the life goals. These goals are emotionally-based, because as responses to moral guidelines, they entail judgments (by self and others) about one's goodness and righteousness. What is at stake, here, are individuals' opportunities for belonging to groups and their self esteem.
The students at this college share cultural thematic knowledge. They know and feel that one ought to fulfill family duties, accept one's place, and promote social harmony. These themes, which provide guidelines for social interactions and activities based in hierarchical and dependent interpersonal relationships, are learned and used in students' life goals and experiences at the college. Their life goals of taking care of their parents and future families, and working to make this possible, are expressions of the themes. Everyday linguistic and postural conventions, hierarchical and dependent social relations, and rites of passage at the college, also reflect student's use of cultural thematic knowledge and feelings.
This study is significant for three reasons. First, the construct of cultural thematic knowledge is introduced to help explain the systematicity of culture and complexities of culture change. Second, the findings increase our understanding about the emotionality of life goals. Finally, through the use of prototype analysis, the evidence sheds light on the ways individuals develop personally meaningful knowledge which they also share with others.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Wallace, Merle
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9702709
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9702709

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