Saturday, June 1, 2013

Education City, a Culture

Education City, or Hamad Bin Khalifa University, is an interesting place. It is home to hundreds of students from a host of diverse nations, each with their unique culture and experiences. Students have the opportunity to continue their studies from primary to secondary school, from an undergrad to even an executive master's degree. One thing that we learned in class is that socialization is the interactive process by which people learn the ways of the society in which they live. HBKU operates by a set of sub-laws that, although not supra-national laws, are answerable directly to the authority of HBKU itself, which has its own policing force, rules and regulations, expectations, and codes of conduct. Students that enjoy the privilege of an education in HBKU that have attended schools in Qatar previously will notice the immediate shift in the social environment. They become socialized within the boundaries of HBKU that there is a much more lax dress code, rules against public displays of affection are not as oppressive, although still firm, and the cultural and ideological diversity breeds new ideas and interactions between people that previously would never have met. Grazian explains this as cultural diffusion, a process where cultures adapt parts of other cultures. Qatar has created a bubble here whereby the local culture adapts parts of cultures world-wide: the American universities hold vacations during Muslim holy days, a practice that isn't common in the US, is just one example. Karl Marx states in his theory that when there is a large group of people that are in proximity to each other, people start to talk. When people start to talk, ideas begin to spread, and new habits and cultural idiosyncrasies are developed. Grazian states that culture is determined by the social contexts in which we interact with others, and that subcultures are smaller groups that are distinct from the larger social contexts they exist in based on their values, beliefs, symbols, and/or activities. Each university in HBKU holds its own values, and each of the students have their own values and beliefs, and HBKU itself has its own values, beliefs, and vision of what it wants for its students. Members of HBKU have their own vehicle tags to allow them unobstructed entry onto the campus, each university member has his or her own ID and an assortment of office supplies, clothes, and other utensils that have either HBKU or the name of their host university on them. Upon graduation, each student receives a rather expensive-looking ring with their name engraved on it with a stylistic engraving of the HBKU tree's leaf. These things can arguably be called the totems of HBKU, or an object that serves as the symbol of the group. HBKU as a scene has its own idioculture, enjoying its own collective memory and shared experiences, its own ideology and attitude, and its own system of knowledge, all of which Grazian states are important tenets of microscenes and idiocultures. Ultimately, HBKU can be seen as a culture that is a fabricated and sped up modern-day "Renaissance," an investment in human capital and potential that touches on the experiences of the West with a vision for Qatar.

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