Amazon The Culture Code is American to its core. His Code knows how and why Americans assume certain things about their lives, what external symbols represent and motivate their inner selves, what drives them to eat, drink, buy, work, and play, and how simple insights can challenge their limiting worldviews. It is hard to put down. It is easy to believe.
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Amazon The Culture Code is American to its core. His Code knows how and why Americans assume certain things about their lives, what external symbols represent and motivate their inner selves, what drives them to eat, drink, buy, work, and play, and how simple insights can challenge their limiting worldviews.
It is hard to put down. It is easy to believe. At face value, it is a revolutionary new guide to modern life. Deep down, it is a caricature of American consumer culture, a pop spectacle, and a sublime example of reductionism. It is so wrong, but feels so right. It exemplifies the genius of the American market and what prowess the warlords of commerce possess.
What is code? Codes are laws, rule systems, or a means of classification. Codes are symbolic messages that contain hidden or alternate meanings. There is codifying, encoding, decoding. There are dress codes, genetic codes, and area codes. Codes are everywhere, imbuing everything with meaning. All of culture is coded. Code dictates how people dress, how they speak, how they act, think, and behave. In linguistics and communication fields, code switching enables people to adjust their behaviors to suit varying social settings.
Code tells people who to accept, outcast or idolize. Codes mediate our stories, movies and our news. Codes differ from neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city, state to state, and nation to nation. Codes exist in every sector and field, dictating how to succeed and fail.
People are defined by code and also help to generate and uphold code. Social coding is a dynamic and complex process. Some believe individuals have agency in choosing codes in which to participate, others believe code is inexorably partnered with and managed by systems of power. Code is direct. It is easy to read and understand. It plants heady cultural theories in practical settings, and uses examples from daily life to illustrate its point.
It is simple and engaging. Most importantly, it is relatable. Americans are bombarded with media information and daily cultural messages that oftentimes are contradictory, complex, and confusing. In a world dominated by instant messaging, podcasts, cable television, and cell phones, time is an endangered resource. Thirty-second sound- and video-bytes comprise American newscasts, neatly summarizing for viewers and listeners how they should perceive the world, what information is most important, and which sources they should believe.
Different information sources cater to different populations. Conservative talking heads cater to conservative listeners. Public radio caters to a socially minded crowd. Various opinion makers -- trained communication experts -- govern American thought, freeing plenty of valuable time for Americans to focus on more important decisions. Should I root for the Colts or the Bears?
Is Bud light better than Miller Light? Will Atkins allow me to eat foods I love and achieve a slimmer waistline? Does crimson red a Cover Girl make? Will I feel stealthy in my PT Cruiser? Will this gated community make me appear wealthy? What brand of ready-made lasagna tastes the most authentic?
Is something wrong with this picture? Rapaille would say "not really. America buys for fulfillment and gleans much of its individual and collective identities from marketing and entertainment codes. American socialization is tied to consumer culture and therefore perpetuates certain buying practices. Code highlights the mastery of the American market in identifying, capturing and sustaining brand converts and material followers. Rapaille does not lambaste the market, he uses it to teach American consumers why they purchase the way they do.
In essence, he validates American behavior. A French native, he admits to having felt like a misfit in his own country before connecting with the more "adolescent" American culture.
In the end, Rapaille connects with his reader in the same way he connected with thousands of research subjects over 30 years as a corporate marketing consultant -- through acceptance. Code is itself a quick fix, a band-aid, a second sound-byte. Code is meant to empower readers, but instead it paints a grim portrait of the individual.
It reduces American individuality to robotics. Even beyond American borders, Rapaille hints at identity as something that is constructed, upgraded, and re-programmed until the individual no longer operates outside the system. In a sense, humans are sophisticated machines; social codes, their programming language. Rapaille is not wrong, but his approach is too simple.
He introduces a complex subject with an ease and simplicity more characteristic of marketing than of research. His work is persuasive and his writing style engaging. The reader wants to say "yes, I believe" without the muddy complication of trying to truly understand culture.
Code is easy to idolize because it provides an answer to the question "Who am I? But life is never really that simple and, though we desperately wish for it, never will be.
Early life and education[ edit ] Rapaille was born in France and immigrated to the United States in the early 80s. He called that primal emotional association an imprint. This imprint determines our attitude towards a particular thing. These pooled individual imprints make up a collective cultural unconscious, which unconsciously pre-organize and influence the behavior of a culture. MacLean , which describes three distinct brains: the cortex , limbic , and reptilian. Beneath the cortex, the seat of logic and reason, is the limbic, which houses emotions. Only accessible via the subconscious, the reptilian brain is the home of our intrinsic instincts.
The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille