Co-Cultures Develop in Groups with Shared Hobbies or Interests
Some co-cultures develop in groups with shared hobbies or interests. Similar to other co- cultures, such groups have unique customs and patterns of behavior.
There are various geographic co- cultures in the U.S. that developed because different ethnic groups or nationalities immigra ted to specific regions of the United States. These regional co- cultures have their own customs and traditions, dialects of English, and foods. Regional cuis ines, such as cheesesteaks and water ice in Philadelphia, green chile stew in New Mexico, gr its and sweet tea in the South, and sushi in the West, are examples of the influence of differ ent cultural groups in parts of the United States (United States of America, 2010). Customs, traditions, and foods once unique to certain co- cultures also can become part of the dominant culture over time. For example, once unique to only a few sport-related co- cultures in the U.S., the fist bump is becoming preferable to handshakes in interpersonal co mmunication, with 49% of Americans reporting this preference (Purell Brand, 2010). Inter personal communication differs based on the culture in which someone lives, and we may b e surprised by these differences in communication norms. For example, while in a U.S. exch ange student program, two brothers from United Arab Emirates spoke to women with who m they were not related for the first times in their lives (Wilson, 1993). In stark contrast ar e the interpersonal communication norms in Mexico City, where very intimate displays of a ffection are common and acceptable in public spaces (Lithnicum, 2019).
You are likely a member of any number of co- cultures, based in part on your gender, religion, political and social beliefs, occupation, scho ol affiliation, athletic team preferences, and hobbies or interests. For example, attending Sa n Diego Comic- Con, the annual convention that celebrates comic books and related aspects of science fictio n, fantasy, and popular culture, can make someone who is not a part of the co- culture feel like they are in a foreign country. There are characters, outfits, customs, phrase s, and objects at Comic- Con that you might not understand if you are not a member of the comic book co- culture. Though the comic book co-culture seems like a small co- culture within the dominant U.S. culture, it has actually influenced, and is influenced by, mu ltiple cultures in a meaningful way. Comic book superheroes are now a driving force behind several blockbuster movies. Indeed, one researcher argues that superheroes often represe nt an ideal American identity and contribute to the narrative of “good American citizenship ” (Wanzo, 2009, p. 93).
Another example of a co- culture’s influence is the proliferation of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM ), held in October each year. The tradition of NBCAM started in 1985 as a health campaign s ponsored by the American Cancer Society and a pharmaceutical company; since then, breas t cancer advocates and survivors have emerged as members of an influential co- culture that gradually shifted the dominant culture’s focus to fundraising and research on t his specific form of cancer. The pink ribbon that symbolizes breast cancer awareness beca me an important marketing tool for showing support for fighting the disease and for wome n in general. Eventually, companies such as Estée Lauder, national magazines such as Self, a nd organizations such as the National Football League became involved in the event. In fact, interpersonal communication stimulated by health campaigns such as this (and their creati on of a co- culture) significantly increases positive health outcomes, highlighting interpersonal comm unication’s role in both co-culture creation and co- culture’s influence on the dominant culture (Jeong & Bae, 2018). This shift from small- scale campaign to nationwide co-culture creation illustrates the significant effects co- cultures can have on the dominant culture. But some co- cultures have customs and behaviors that are dramatically different from those of the domi nant culture; sometimes they are criticized or forbidden if they veer too far afield from con ventional norms. For example, organized gangs are prolific in many urban areas in America and often engage in illegal activities. To combat the influence of gang co- culture, cities may adopt laws prohibiting graffiti, or “tagging,” or schools may adopt dress codes that prohibit the wearing of gang colors.