Friday, February 25, 2011

Cultural Symbols & Their Repercussion

By Desiree Raucci

The human mind associates cultural symbols as a visual, verbal or written representation of reality. Sybolism is everywhere around us, we associate deeper meaning to symbols every day and most of us do not even realize. 

Visual Cultural Symbols can be seen everywhere, we brand ourselves with tattoos to make a statement, we wear brand name clothing, listen to music on our ipods and drink grande skim lattes from Starbucks. Every one of those things I just mentioned are a form of symbolism. We associate the bitten apple icon to all Macintosh products, as we also do with the swoosh created by Nike. Many of us, including myself have tattoos, perhaps to show our rebellion yet still grouping ourselves with the rest of the inked nation. A tattoo is a form of symbolism, they mean something deeper than the ink resting in your skin. Married couples wear wedding bands to show their status of being taken and to show their loyalty to their other half. Most of the world, when you see the bright, yellow arches while driving down a highway you know a McDonalds will be coming up in the near future. In short, visual symbols are everywhere around us.

Written Cultural Symbols are used everyday in one of the most popular things to do, texting. Texting has created a completely new language in recent years. Everything is abbreviated to make sending your message easier. Every language in the world is written symbolism, it shows our culture by another just by scanning the pages of a foreign book or magazine.

Spoken Cultural Symbols also show who we are as a culture. Many languages have created sub languages, such as ebonics, slang and accents. I was born and raised in South Philadelphia and hearing me speak, anyone could guess that is where I am from. A southern accent shows the cultural twang of the persons home, and the New York accent may be the most heard accent on television and in movies. 

In the world today symbolism can show the social status of a person, how educated they might be, the age and even the culutural background. The symbols around us, make us. Throughout the decades symbols have been born and buried, and then brought back to life. The peace sign was very popular in the 1960's and 1970's as a sign of freedom and love often used to protest the war in Vietnam. In recent years it has been reborn, yet used more lightly perhaps more of a fashion statement these days. It kind of has lost its powerful aura it once had in earlier times. Even the crucifix symbol associated with religion has been re vamped in society as a symbol, many stars and musicians wear the rosary around their neck. A cultural symbol has now changed into a fashion statement. Cultural symbolism keeps evolving and will never stop until humans cease to exist. In the end my main point I trying to make is if there is a culture, there is symbolism. 


  1. I agree that the way you speak could determine where your from. I never paid much attention to how I spoke and how certain “slang” is different somewhere else until I moved to Philadelphia. I was born and raised in New York and when I moved here a year ago, slang words had different meanings that I never heard of. One slang word that really caught my attention was the word “jawn” which I think could mean anything. This particular slang word could be a person, place, or thing and it may be verb or adjective. On the other hand I also observed that many people that I had conversations with knew I was from New York, just by the way I spoke and the slang I used.

  2. I really like your blog. You gave very good examples and explanations. The examples are not just simple and typical but you brought some history into it and also realistic examples too (it sounds educational). The pictures matches up to what you are talking about. The one with the girl is kind of fascinating, I like tattoos but not all over my body but that's just me. In my culture, people with tattoo sometimes symbolizes wild character and most times its not suppose to be a good thing especially to very strict cultural elders.

  3. This is an exciting topic and the graphics used really coincide with the subject matter. Culture symbols are significant in our daily lives, often these symbols are used to recognize who we are and where we hail from without asking. For example; in West Africa where I was born and raised, we find people with special marks on their faces and arms which distinguishes them from others, and thus makes it easier to associate them with tribes and regions they came from. Cultural symbols are very important but sometimes it is abused by people who don’t know its meaning.

  4. symbols are in our lives some are visule and some are personal like stop signs they are at every corner the world is full of visual cultural symbols we need these symbols to know what is happening on the street the cross is jesus and it is worn to rember Him.