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Title:Code switching and contextual culture: The Indian model of stability maintenance
Author(s):Heinrich, Steven Allan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Shimkin, Demitri B.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies
Sociology, Social Structure and Development
Abstract:Humans are capable of simultaneous individual cultural multiplicity. In many parts of the world individuals may not be encouraged to manifest this capability, or to perceive this trait in others who do manifest this capability. In India, however, there are at least two separate cultural systems, a cosmopolitan system, and a traditional system. Many individuals in India are competent in cultures drawn from each of these systems, and many of these individuals switch between these different cultures frequently and at very short notice. This simultaneous individual cultural multiplicity and cultural code switching allows the co-existence of these two cultural systems, and reduces the possibility that any one of these cultures will displace the other. An outgrowth of this argument is that the relative peace and stability which characterizes India in the face of this great diversity is a result of this personal acquaintance with diversity, and an understanding that the ascendence of one culture or cultural system need not signal an equivalent decline in some other culture or cultural system, since one individual can be, as it were, a host or carrier of more than one culture at a time.
A variety of evidence, presented in the form of accounts of interpersonal interactions and individual behavior, supports the central thesis of this dissertation, that individuals are capable of simultaneous cultural multiplicity, and that they can and in India that they do deal with societal complexity by using a process of cultural code switching. Evidence drawn from a variety of sources has also demonstrated that world views common in the west have blinded many western social scientists to this phenomenon.
This dissertation thus presents a new model of wide ranging theoretical and practical importance for western social science. This model may be useful in practical terms in understanding or preventing conflict in many regions of the globe. It also, non-trivially, presents us with a new and elegantly simple model of individual cultural multiplicity and cultural code switching with which to understand and describe Indian society in general.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Heinrich, Steven Allan
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9210833
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9210833

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