Cultural Diversity / Attitudes

A Conceptual Framework

Working Paper #1


Lyndell Nelson Whitley and Jennifer R. Wolch

August 1998

Economic globalization and increased migration have brought cultural traditions and practices from many regions of the world together in most large metropolitan regions. Along with unsustainable practices associated with western models of economic development, the practices of newcomers can have adverse impacts on the local natural environment and its resident fauna, including marine wildlife. Cross-cultural conflict in such locales may also emerge on the basis of a general lack of familiarity and understanding of culturally diverse attitudes and practices towards animals. Yet prior work in the area of attitudes toward animals has not considered the issue of cultural differences. This report presents a conceptual framework designed to facilitate an understanding of attitudes toward marine wildlife in a culturally diverse metropolitan setting such as Los Angeles. The framework incorporates three interrelated levels of analysis: the global, local, and individual. The global level includes overarching trends in economic globalization and environmental degradation, culture-specific nature-culture relations, social movements around animals and the environment, and the impacts of international regulatory agencies. The local level, takes into account local institutions and environmental contexts, as well as an area?s demographic characteristics that may affect attitudes toward marine wildlife. At the individual level, the focus is on basic environmental values, knowledge about animals, species preferences, and interactions with animals. This framework represents an effort to integrate contextual locational and cultural characteristics of individual subjects into an understanding of attitudes that is more dynamic than prior attitudinal research. Attitudes are considered as emerging not only out of demographic and socioeconomic differences, but also as being shaped by: (1) population flows which bring together individuals of diverse backgrounds; (2) multi-generational maintenance of cultural traditions within destination locations; and (3) socio-spatial issues like urban poverty and economic marginalization. Ultimately all of these factors are understood to result in differing culture- and place-specific attitudes towards animals.

Keywords: Attitudes toward animals, Cross-cultural attitudes, Marine wildlife


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