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The Influence of Cultural Relativism

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Presented at Web Unleashed 2017
More info at www.fitc.ca/webu

Ramya Mahalingam, Cardinal Solutions

Overview

Cultural relativism is the understanding that a person’s behaviors and activities should be interpreted in the context of their own culture. We rely heavily on this principle to understand user groups in order to design digital systems for them. Our current models for understanding and quantifying cultural relativism are on the international scale; we see Americans as a group distinct from Japanese, who are again distinct from British. However, this may not be enough. The current socio-political climate in America demonstrates that the cultural influences even within a nation might be misunderstood. This talk will explore some of the current frameworks we have to understand culture, and propose ways to better work them into our design practices.

Objective

To understand cultural relativism as a framework to think about users from different backgrounds in order to better design for them.

Target Audience

Folks who are interested in better ways to understand other people

Five Things Audience Members Will Learn

What cultural relativism is and how it applies to the design process
Case studies of companies failing to enter new markets because of cultural differences
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory
Edward Hall’s Primary Message Systems
How to use these methods for better research

Published in: Internet
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The Influence of Cultural Relativism

  1. 1. The Influence of Cultural Relativism Ramya Mahalingam @rams_mahalingam on twitter @openchair on instagram UX Architect at Cardinal Solutions Benevolent Dictator of Charlotte Storytellers
  2. 2. https://chipotle.com
  3. 3. http://www.shortlistdubai.com/sites/default/files/images/2016/02/18/La%20Tablita%20bar.jpg
  4. 4. http://cdn.secretmenus.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/chipotle-employees.jpg
  5. 5. Hallmates ≠ UX people
  6. 6. Cultural relativism Cultural relativism is the understanding that a person’s behaviors and activities should be interpreted in the context of their own culture. Franz Uri Boas
  7. 7. http://www.internationalbusinessguide.org/10-successful- american-businesses-that-have-failed-overseas/ https://www.uncommoncaribbean.com/2010/04/01/ mcdonalds-failure-in-barbados-hides-in-plain-sight/ https://venturebeat.com/2014/04/02/happy-2014-chat- games-may-the-odds-be-ever-in-your-favor/
  8. 8. Problems? User Research!
  9. 9. Ethnocentric
  10. 10. What is Culture?
  11. 11. What is Culture? The acquired knowledge people use to interpret experience and generate behavior. James Spradley
  12. 12. tacit culture explicit culture
  13. 13. tacit culture explicit culture
  14. 14. http://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Business%20Functions/McKinsey%20Digital/Our%20Insights/Digital%20globalization%20The%20new%20era%20of%20global%20flows
  15. 15. Illustration by Daniel Hertzberg
  16. 16. Pretzel Salad
  17. 17. https://images-gmi-pmc.edge-generalmills.com/8162d1d4-cf6e-4065-916a-519579f088cb.jpg
  18. 18. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/4b/8e/0e/ 4b8e0eca46b8c3be404d478228191912.jpg https://addapinch.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2012/04/ frozen-fruit-salad-67111.jpg https://images-gmi-pmc.edge-generalmills.com/8162d1d4- cf6e-4065-916a-519579f088cb.jpg
  19. 19. Culture is not Geography
  20. 20. Culture is not Geography …because of digital technology
  21. 21. Media Consumption in the 2016 U.S. Election
  22. 22. All information is
 Cultural Influence
  23. 23. As (UX, IA, UI, Front-End)ers, we are responsible for our influence
  24. 24. What makes you, you?
  25. 25. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions theory Power distance index (PDI) Individualism vs. collectivism (IDV) Uncertainty avoidance index (UAI) Masculinity vs. femininity (MAS) Long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation (LTO) Indulgence vs. restraint (IND)
  26. 26. Interaction Association Subsistence Bisexuality Territoriality Hall’s Primary Message Systems Temporality Learning and Acquisition Play Defense Exploitation
  27. 27. Similarities, not Differences
  28. 28. https://2ecffd01e1ab3e9383f0-07db7b9624bbdf022e3b5395236d5cf8.ssl.cf4.rackcdn.com/Product-800x800/c5db27ba-ca35-490f-9d0b-4c1c66b4e280.jpg
  29. 29. “We are constantly manifesting thoughts into action to create our reality” — My yoga teacher, sometimes
  30. 30. Thanks! Ramya Mahalingam @rams_mahalingam on twitter @openchair on the gram UX Architect at Cardinal Solutions Benevolent Dictator of Charlotte Storytellers

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