Dominant culture

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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]

The culture that is dominant within a particular geopolitical entity can change over time in response to internal or external factors, but one is usually very resilient and able to reproduce itself effectively from generation to generation. In a polycultural society, various cultures are celebrated and respected equally. A dominant culture can be promoted deliberately and by the suppression of minority cultures or subcultures.

Examples and applications[edit]

Native American studies[edit]

In the United States, a distinction is often made between the indigenous culture of Native Americans, and a dominant culture that may be described as "WASP", "Anglo", "white", "middle class", and so on. Some Native Americans are seen as being part of the culture of their own tribe, community, or family, while simultaneously participating in the dominant culture of America as a whole.[2]

Other American groups[edit]

Ethnic groups are said to exist in the United States in relation to a dominant culture, generally seen as English-speaking, of European ancestry, and Protestant Christian faith. Asian Americans,[3] Jews,[4][5] African Americans,[6] Latinos,[7] and Deaf people,[8][9] among others, are seen as facing a choice to oppose, be opposed by, assimilate into, acculturate (i.e. exist alongside), or otherwise react to the dominant culture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gordon Marshall (1998). A Dictionary of Sociology. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Maria Falkenhagen and Inga K. Kelly (May 1974). "The Native American in Juvenile Fiction: Teacher Perception of Stereotypes". Journal of American Indian Education. 13 (2). Archived from the original on 2015-01-20.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. ^ Lisa Lowe (1996). Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-1864-4.
  4. ^ Lisa Lowe (review of book by Rabbi Meir Kahane) (2004-02-10). "Why Be Jewish? Intermarriage, Assimilation, and Alienation". The Jewish Eye.
  5. ^ Shlomo Sharan (April 2004). "Assimilation, Normalcy and Jewish Self-Hatred". NATIV Online. Archived from the original on 2008-12-03.
  6. ^ Patricia S. Parker (August 2001). "African American Women Executives' Leadership Communication within Dominant-Culture Organizations: (Re)Conceptualizing Notions of Collaboration and Instrumentality". Management Communication Quarterly. 15 (1).
  7. ^ Penelope Bass (2009-01-29). "Culture and Controversy:The 'Otra Voz' exhibit aims to create conversation". Archived from the original on 2011-07-11.
  8. ^ Joan B. Stone (1998). Ila Parasnis (ed.). Cultural and Language Diversity and the Deaf Experience. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-64565-2.
  9. ^ Carla A. Halpern (1995). "Listening In on Deaf Culture". Diversity and Distinction. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2013-10-06. Retrieved 2009-01-29.