Published: What Commands Your Behaviors? ‘On Rule Makers, Rule Breakers’ (PopMatters)

Gelfand's thesis is that a culture is shaped, primarily, by its perceptions of internal or external threat. The greater the sense of threat, the tighter it gets with rules and norms and vice versa. Threat-driven tight cultures seek order and unity and do not allow for the ambiguities or risk-taking that loose cultures revel in. Throughout, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers, Gelfand gives many examples — both historical and contemporary — to prove how the customs that have shaped worldviews, behaviors, identities, and personal lives in any particular culture, have originated from underlying perceptions of threat. Whether a culture embraces diversity or division, its tolerance for norms deviation or permissiveness depends largely on whether it's a rule-making tight culture or a rule-breaking loose culture. (And within any given culture type there will also always be pockets of the opposite type.)

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marginalia

Marginalia: Journal Prompts (December)

We are at the end of another annual series here. For each month of this year, we've picked a theme for daily journal prompts and, even if you haven't followed along this year, you can always do so when you choose. The themes have been varied -- themes like age/time, memory, vacations, seasons, language, books, productivity, technology, relationships, and more. In this last month, let's go back to each of the previous months, revisit what we wrote, and pick the two or three prompts we'd like to "do over."

5 short stories

Published: Short Stories: Parties (PopMatters)

This month's short stories column features parties. Stories by these five writers: Katherine Mansfield, Banaphool (tr. Arunava Sinha), Joshua Ferris, Nina McConigley, and Kirsten Valdez Quade. And the parties described — a summer garden party, an elaborate tea function, an intimate couples dinner, a themed pre-wedding get-together, and an annual blueberry celebration — are not only life-changing for the protagonists but they are also memorably unique for readers.