"In" Groups and "Out" Groups
Cuadrilla has been nothing if not surprising. As a well-travelled explorer, I have in the past been tempted to think that I had "seen it all"; that adaptation would be "a cinch," and so on. I already had a decent grasp of the local language of Cuadrilla before I set foot here. But language was the least of my worries, as I soon discovered.
No, not language, but culture. That is the great stumbling block, the great hurdle, for any new visitor to Cuadrilla, particularly one who comes from far afield. But what is culture? A way of life? A set of habits? A worldview? A set of basic presuppositions that permeate everyday life, and are often invisible to those immersed in a particular way of life? Probably all of the above.
Adaptation in the Land of Freedom and Opportunity is very different to adaptation in Cuadrilla. Freedom Lovers tend to believe that everyone should choose his own habits and lifestyle, within reason, just so long as he respects the right of others to do the same. Furthermore, with a free market of ideas and practices, one has plenty of opportunity to cultivate one's own "cultural and religious space," so to speak, at least if one has access to a decent education. Of course, the downside of this is that religion can be reduced to a consumer "option," while the shopping mall can become another religion. The upside is that those with initiative can cultivate a social space and a group of like-minded friends that may be quite at odds with the surrounding culture. Thus, there are ways of mitigating the influence of the dominant culture.
Cuadrilla is quite different in this respect. The expectation of the average Cuadrillean is that you will EITHER adapt to the local culture, OR you will remain an outsider, to all intents and purposes. Whereas a Freedom Lover will consider everyone as eligible candidates for "integration," just so long as they sign on to the same legal framework so to speak, the Cuadrillean will only admit someone as a candidate for "integration" and full acceptance on a par with other Cuadrilleans, when he and his family have lived here for at least two generations, and have more or less assimilated to the Cuadrillean way of life. The mere fact of residence here, be it for a decade or a lifetime, is not sufficient for one to be considered "of Cuadrilla."
Thus, whereas in the Land of Freedom I felt that somehow everyone was a foreigner in his own land - in the sense that there was no "thick culture" that united everyone - in this weather-beaten land, I feel that the contrast between foreigner and native is much more acute. At the same time, that makes foreigners even a bit more "exotic" because they stand out a lot more here than they do in most major Freedom Loving cities.
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David Thunder is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society, a humanities and social science research center at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
visitors since 7 Oct 2012