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Introduction

Celebrations, rituals and patterns of consumption are important aspects of folk culture.

Culture (/ˈkʌlər/) is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. Cultural universals are found in all human societies; these include expressive forms like art, music, dance, ritual, religion, and technologies like tool usage, cooking, shelter, and clothing. The concept of material culture covers the physical expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art, whereas the immaterial aspects of culture such as principles of social organization (including practices of political organization and social institutions), mythology, philosophy, literature (both written and oral), and science comprise the intangible cultural heritage of a society.

In the humanities, one sense of culture as an attribute of the individual has been the degree to which they have cultivated a particular level of sophistication in the arts, sciences, education, or manners. The level of cultural sophistication has also sometimes been seen to distinguish civilizations from less complex societies. Such hierarchical perspectives on culture are also found in class-based distinctions between a high culture of the social elite and a low culture, popular culture, or folk culture of the lower classes, distinguished by the stratified access to cultural capital. In common parlance, culture is often used to refer specifically to the symbolic markers used by ethnic groups to distinguish themselves visibly from each other such as body modification, clothing or jewelry. Mass culture refers to the mass-produced and mass mediated forms of consumer culture that emerged in the 20th century. Some schools of philosophy, such as Marxism and critical theory, have argued that culture is often used politically as a tool of the elites to manipulate the lower classes and create a false consciousness, and such perspectives are common in the discipline of cultural studies. In the wider social sciences, the theoretical perspective of cultural materialism holds that human symbolic culture arises from the material conditions of human life, as humans create the conditions for physical survival, and that the basis of culture is found in evolved biological dispositions.

Selected general articles

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Cultural differences can interact with positive psychology to create great variation, potentially impacting positive psychology interventions. Culture influences how people seek psychological help, their definitions of social structure, and coping strategies. Read more...
  • Cultural pluralism is a term used when smaller groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities, and their values and practices are accepted by the wider culture provided they are consistent with the laws and values of the wider society. As a sociological term, the definition and description of cultural pluralism has evolved over time. It has been described as not only a fact but a societal goal. Cultural pluralism is distinct from (though often confused with) multiculturalism. Multiculturalism lacks the requirement of a dominant culture. If the dominant culture is weakened, societies can easily pass from cultural pluralism into multiculturalism without any intentional steps being taken by that society. If communities function separately from each other, or compete with one another, they are not considered culturally pluralistic.

    Cultural pluralism can be practiced at varying degrees by a group or an individual. A prominent example of pluralism is 20th Century United States, in which a dominant culture with strong elements of nationalism, a sporting culture, and an artistic culture contained also smaller groups with their own ethnic, religious, and cultural norms . In 1971, the Canadian government referred to cultural pluralism, as opposed to multiculturalism, as the "very essence" of their nation's identity. In a pluralist culture, groups not only co-exist side by side, but also consider qualities of other groups as traits worth having in the dominant culture. Pluralistic societies place strong expectations of integration on members, rather than expectations of assimilation. The existence of such institutions and practices is possible if the cultural communities are accepted by the larger society in a pluralist culture and sometimes require the protection of the law. Often the acceptance of a culture may require that the new or minority culture remove some aspects of their culture which is incompatible with the laws or values of the dominant culture. Read more...
  • Cultural radicalism (Danish: Kulturradikalisme) was a movement in first Danish, but later also Norwegian culture. It was particular strong in the Interwar Period, but its philosophy has its origin in the 1870s and a great deal of modern social commentary still refer to it.

    At the time of the height of the cultural radical movement it was referred to as modern. The words cultural radical and cultural radicalism was first used in an essay by Elias Bredsdorff in the broadsheet newspaper, Politiken, in 1956. Bredsdorff described cultural radicals as people who are socially responsible with an international outlook. Read more...
  • Cultural dissonance (education, sociology, anthropology and cultural studies) is an uncomfortable sense of discord, disharmony, confusion, or conflict experienced by people in the midst of change in their cultural environment. The changes are often unexpected, unexplained or not understandable due to various types of cultural dynamics.

    Studies into cultural dissonance take on a wide socio-cultural scope of analysis that inquire into economics, politics, values, learning styles, cultural factors, such as language, tradition, ethnicity, cultural heritage, cultural history, educational formats, classroom design, and even socio-cultural issues such as ethnocentricism, racism and their respective historical legacies in the cultures. Read more...
  • Cultural homogenization is an aspect of cultural globalization, listed as one of its main characteristics, and refers to the reduction in cultural diversity through the popularization and diffusion of a wide array of cultural symbols—not only physical objects but customs, ideas and values. O'Connor defines it as "the process by which local cultures are transformed or absorbed by a dominant outside culture". Cultural homogenization has been called "perhaps the most widely discussed hallmark of global culture". In theory, homogenization could result in the breakdown of cultural barriers and the global assimilation of a single culture.

    Cultural homogenization can impact national identity and culture, which would be "eroded by the impact of global cultural industries and multinational media". The term is usually used in the context of Western culture dominating and destroying other cultures. The process of cultural homogenization in the context of the domination of the Western (American), capitalist culture is also known as McDonaldization, coca-colonization,Americanization or Westernization and criticized as a form of cultural imperialism and neo-colonialism. This process has been resented by many indigenous cultures. However, while some scholars, critical of this process, stress the dominance of American culture and corporate capitalism in modern cultural homogenization, others note that the process of cultural homogenization is not one-way, and in fact involves a number of cultures exchanging various elements. Critics of cultural homogenization theory point out that as different cultures mix, homogenization is less about the spread of a single culture as about the mixture of different cultures, as people become aware of other cultures and adopt their elements. Examples of non-American culture affecting the West include world music and the popularization of non-American television (Latin American telenovelas, Japanese anime, Indian Bollywood), religion (Islam, Buddhism), food, and clothing in the West, though in most cases insignificant in comparison to the Western influence in other countries. The process of adoption of elements of global culture to local cultures is known as glocalization or cultural heterogenization. Read more...
  • Together people with different ethnic, sociodemographic and ideological backgrounds

    Cross-cultural communication is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate, in similar and different ways among themselves, and how they endeavor to communicate across cultures. Intercultural communication is a related field of study. Read more...


  • Pop-culture tourism is the act of traveling to locations featured in popular literature, film, music, or any other form of media. Also referred to as a "Location Vacation".

    Pop-culture tourism is in some respects akin to pilgrimage, with its modern equivalents of places of pilgrimage, such as Elvis Presley's Graceland and the grave of Jim Morrison in Père Lachaise Cemetery. Read more...
  • The transition of communication technology: oral culture, manuscript culture, print culture, and Information Age


    Manuscript culture uses manuscripts to store and disseminate information; in the West, it generally preceded the age of printing. In early manuscript culture, monks copied manuscripts by hand. They copied not just religious works, but a variety of texts including some on astronomy, herbals, and bestiaries. Medieval manuscript culture deals with the transition of the manuscript from the monasteries to the market in the cities, and the rise of universities. Manuscript culture in the cities created jobs built around the making and trade of manuscripts, and typically was regulated by universities. Late manuscript culture was characterized by a desire for uniformity, well-ordered and convenient access to the text contained in the manuscript, and ease of reading aloud. This culture grew out of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and the rise of the Devotio Moderna. It included a change in materials (switching from vellum to paper), and was subject to remediation by the printed book, while also influencing it. Read more...
  • According to international organizations such as UNESCO and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), cultural industries (sometimes also known as "creative industries") combine the creation, production, and distribution of goods and services that are cultural in nature and usually protected by intellectual property rights. Read more...
  • In cultural anthropology and cultural geography, cultural diffusion, as conceptualized by Leo Frobenius in his 1897/98 publication Der westafrikanische Kulturkreis, is the spread of cultural items—such as ideas, styles, religions, technologies, languages—between individuals, whether within a single culture or from one culture to another. It is distinct from the diffusion of innovations within a specific culture. Examples of diffusion include the spread of the war chariot and iron smelting in ancient times, and the use of automobiles and Western business suits in the 20th century. Read more...
  • A cultural system, is the interaction of different elements in culture. While a cultural system is very different from a social system, sometimes both systems together are referred to as the sociocultural system. Read more...
  • Apple pie, baseball, and the United States flag are three American cultural icons


    A cultural icon is an artifact that is identified by members of a culture as representative of that culture. The process of identification is subjective, and "icons" are judged by the extent to which they can be seen as an authentic proxy of that culture. When individuals perceive a cultural icon, they relate it to their general perceptions of the cultural identity represented. Cultural icons can also be identified as an authentic representation of the practices of one culture by another.

    In the media, many items and persons of popular culture have been called "iconic" despite their lack of durability; and the term "pop icon" is often now used. Some commentators believe that the word is overused or misused. Read more...
  • Cultural literacy is a term coined by E. D. Hirsch, referring to the ability to understand and participate fluently in a given culture. Cultural literacy is an analogy to literacy proper (the ability to read and write letters). A literate reader knows the object-language's alphabet, grammar, and a sufficient set of vocabulary; a culturally literate person knows a given culture's signs and symbols, including its language, particular dialectic, stories, entertainment, idioms, idiosyncrasies, and so on. The culturally literate person is able to talk to and understand others of that culture with fluency, while the culturally illiterate person fails to understand culturally-conditioned allusions, references to past events, idiomatic expressions, jokes, names, places, etc. Read more...
  • An American Woman Interacting Inter-Culturally in Yunnan Province, China.
    A Cross-Cultural Interaction in Yunnan Province, China
    Intercultural Relations, sometimes called Intercultural Studies, is a relatively new formal field of social science studies. It is a practical, multi-field discipline designed to train its students to understand, communicate, and accomplish specific goals outside their own cultures. Intercultural Relations involves, at a fundamental level, learning how to see oneself and the world through the eyes of another. It is a broad rather than deep discipline that seeks to prepare students for interaction with cultures both similar to their own (e.g. a separate socioeconomic group in one's own country) or very different from their own (e.g. an American businessman in a small Amazon tribal society). Some aspects of intercultural relations also include, their power and cultural identity with how the relationship should be upheld with other foreign countries. Read more...
  • Cultural cringe, in cultural studies and social anthropology, is an internalized inferiority complex that causes people in a country to dismiss their own culture as inferior to the cultures of other countries. It is closely related to the concept of colonial mentality and is often linked with the display of anti-intellectual attitudes towards thinkers, scientists, and artists who originate from a colonial or post-colonial nation. It can also be manifested in individuals in the form of cultural alienation. Read more...
  • Consumer capitalism is a theoretical economic and social political condition in which consumer demand is manipulated, in a deliberate and coordinated way, on a very large scale, through mass-marketing techniques, to the advantage of sellers.

    This theory is controversial. It suggests manipulation of consumer demand so potent that it has a coercive effect, amounts to a departure from free-market capitalism, and has an adverse effect on society in general. According to one source, the power of such 'manipulation' is not straightforward. It depends upon a new kind of individualism - projective individualism, where persons use consumer capitalism to project the kind of person who they want to be. Read more...
  • The cultural turn is a movement beginning in the early 1970s among scholars in the humanities and social sciences to make culture the focus of contemporary debates; it also describes a shift in emphasis toward meaning and away from a positivist epistemology. The cultural turn is described in 2005 by Lynette Spillman and Mark D. Jacobs as "one of the most influential trends in the humanities and social sciences in the last generation". A prominent historiographer argues that the cultural turn involved a "wide array of new theoretical impulses coming from fields formerly peripheral to the social sciences", especially post-structuralism, cultural studies, literary criticism, and various forms of linguistic analysis, which emphasized "the causal and socially constitutive role of cultural processes and systems of signification". Read more...
  • Cultural studies is a field of theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture, its historical foundations, defining traits, conflicts, and contingencies. Cultural studies researchers generally investigate how cultural practices relate to wider systems of power associated with or operating through social phenomena, such as ideology, class structures, national formations, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and generation. Cultural studies views cultures not as fixed, bounded, stable, and discrete entities, but rather as constantly interacting and changing sets of practices and processes. The field of cultural studies encompasses a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives and practices. Although distinct from the discipline of cultural anthropology and the interdisciplinary field of ethnic studies, cultural studies draws upon and has contributed to each of these fields.

    Cultural studies was initially developed by British academics in the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and has been subsequently taken up and transformed by scholars from many different disciplines around the world. Cultural studies is avowedly and even radically interdisciplinary and can sometimes be seen as antidisciplinary. A key concern for cultural studies practitioners is the examination of the forces within and through which socially organized people conduct and participate in the construction of their everyday lives. As a result, Cultural Studies as a field of research is not concerned with the linguistically uncategorized experiences of individuals, or, in a more radical approach, holds that individual experiences do not exist, being always the result of a particular social-political context. Read more...
  • Culture theory is the branch of comparative anthropology and semiotics (not to be confused with cultural sociology or cultural studies) that seeks to define the heuristic concept of culture in operational and/or scientific terms. Read more...
  • Traveler from Australia visiting a small farm in Sierra Leone.

    Culture shock is an experience a person may have when one moves to a cultural environment which is different from one's own; it is also the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply transition to another type of life. One of the most common causes of culture shock involves individuals in a foreign environment. Culture shock can be described as consisting of at least one of four distinct phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and adaptation.

    Common problems include: information overload, language barrier, generation gap, technology gap, skill interdependence, formulation dependency, homesickness (cultural), boredom (job dependency), response ability (cultural skill set). There is no true way to entirely prevent culture shock, as individuals in any society are personally affected by cultural contrasts differently. Read more...
  • Interculturalism refers to support for cross-cultural dialogue and challenging self-segregation tendencies within cultures. Interculturalism involves moving beyond mere passive acceptance of a multicultural fact of multiple cultures effectively existing in a society and instead promotes dialogue and interaction between cultures.

    Interculturalism has arisen in response to criticisms of existing policies of multiculturalism, such as criticisms that such policies had failed to create inclusion of different cultures within society, but instead have divided society by legitimizing segregated separate communities that have isolated themselves and accentuated their specificity. It is based on the recognition of both differences and similarities between cultures. It has addressed the risk of the creation of absolute relativism within postmodernity and in multiculturalism. Read more...
  • In New Zealand, cultural safety is the effective nursing practice of a person or family from another culture that is determined by that person or family. Its origins are in nursing education and a culture can range anywhere from age or generation, gender, sexual orientation, occupation, religious beliefs, or even disabilities. An unsafe cultural practice is an action that demeans the cultural identity of a particular person or family. Cultural safety also has four different principles. The first one aims to improve health status and well-being of New Zealanders because the concept originated in New Zealand; on the other hand, the second one improves the delivery of health services. The third one focuses on the differences among the people who are being treated and accepting those differences. The fourth principle focuses on understanding the power of health services and how health care impacts individuals and families. Read more...
  • A culture gap is any systematic difference between two cultures which hinders mutual understanding or relations. Such differences include the values, behavior, education, and customs of the respective cultures.
    As international communications, travel, and trade have expanded, some of the communication and cultural divisions have lessened. Books on how to handle and be aware of cultural differences seek to prepare business people and travelers. Immigrants and migrant laborers need to learn the ways of a new culture. Tourists can also be confronted with variants in protocols for tipping, body language, personal space, dress codes, and other cultural issues. Language instructors try to teach cultural differences as well. Read more...
  • The cultural rights movement has provoked attention to protect the rights of groups of people, or their culture, in similar fashion to the manner in which the human rights movement has brought attention to the needs of individuals throughout the world. Read more...
  • In ethics, value denotes the degree of importance of some thing or action, with the aim of determining what actions are best to do or what way is best to live (normative ethics), or to describe the significance of different actions. Value systems are proscriptive and prescriptive beliefs; they affect ethical behavior of a person or are the basis of their intentional activities. Often primary values are strong and secondary values are suitable for changes, What makes an action valuable may in turn depend on the ethical values of the objects it increases, decreases or alters. An object with "ethic value" may be termed an "ethic or philosophic good" (noun sense).

    Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of actions or outcomes. As such, values reflect a person's sense of right and wrong or what "ought" to be. "Equal rights for all", "Excellence deserves admiration", and "People should be treated with respect and dignity" are representatives of values. Values tend to influence attitudes and behavior and these types include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. It is debated whether some values that are not clearly physiologically determined, such as altruism, are intrinsic, and whether some, such as acquisitiveness, should be classified as vices or virtues. Read more...
  • Cross-cultural psychiatry (also known as transcultural psychiatry or cultural psychiatry) is a branch of psychiatry concerned with the cultural context of mental disorders and the challenges of addressing ethnic diversity in psychiatric services. It emerged as a coherent field from several strands of work, including surveys of the prevalence and form of disorders in different cultures or countries; the study of migrant populations and ethnic diversity within countries; and analysis of psychiatry itself as a cultural product.

    The early literature was associated with colonialism and with observations by asylum psychiatrists or anthropologists who tended to assume the universal applicability of Western psychiatric diagnostic categories. A seminal paper by Arthur Kleinman in 1977 followed by a renewed dialogue between anthropology and psychiatry, is seen as having heralded a "new cross-cultural psychiatry". However, Kleinman later pointed out that culture often became incorporated in only superficial ways, and that for example 90% of DSM-IV categories are culture-bound to North America and Western Europe, and yet the "culture-bound syndrome" label is only applied to "exotic" conditions outside Euro-American society. Read more...
  • Popular culture (also called pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society as a set of the practices, beliefs and objects that are dominant or ubiquitous in a society at a given point in time. Popular culture also encompasses the activities and feelings produced as a result of interaction with these dominant objects. Heavily influenced in modern times by mass media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of people in a given society. Therefore, popular culture has a way of influencing an individual's attitudes towards certain topics. However, there are various ways to define pop culture. Because of this, popular culture is something that can be defined in a variety of conflicting ways by different people across different contexts. It is generally viewed in contrast to other forms of culture such as folk culture, working-class culture, or high culture, and also through different theoretical perspectives such as psychoanalysis, structuralism, postmodernism, and more. The most common pop-culture categories are: entertainment (such as movies, music, television and video games), sports, news (as in people/places in the news), politics, fashion/clothes, technology, and slang.

    Popular culture is sometimes viewed by many people as being trivial and "dumbed down" in order to find consensual acceptance from (or to attract attention amongst) the mainstream. As a result, it comes under heavy criticism from various non-mainstream sources (most notably from religious groups and from countercultural groups) which deem it superficial, consumerist, sensationalist, or corrupt. Read more...
  • Cross-cultural studies, sometimes called holocultural studies or comparative studies, is a specialization in anthropology and sister sciences (sociology, psychology, economics, political science) that uses field data from many societies to examine the scope of human behavior and test hypotheses about human behavior and culture. Cross-cultural studies is the third form of cross-cultural comparisons. The first is comparison of case studies, the second is controlled comparison among variants of a common derivation, and the third is comparison within a sample of cases. Unlike comparative studies, which examines similar characteristics of a few societies, cross-cultural studies uses a sufficiently large sample so that statistical analysis can be made to show relationships or lack of relationships between the traits in question. These studies are surveys of ethnographic data.

    Cross-cultural studies are applied widely in the social sciences, particularly in cultural anthropology and psychology. Read more...
  • Disability culture is a widely used concept developed in the late 1980s to capture differences in lifestyle that are caused or promoted by disability. Disability cultures exist as communities of people around topics of disability. The cultures include arts movements, coalitions, and include but are not limited to: poetry, dance, performance pieces, installments, and sculptures. Steven Brown, in an academic study, wrote, "The existence of a disability culture is a relatively new and contested idea. Not surprising, perhaps, for a group that has long been described with terms like 'in-valid', 'impaired', 'limited', 'crippled', and so forth. Scholars would be hard-pressed to discover terms of hope, endearment or ability associated with people with disabilities."

    Disability culture cannot be defined by one specific description or language. It is a complex blending of art, performance, expression, and community. Within this culture, the word "disabled" has been re-purposed to represent a social identity of empowerment and awareness. Like many civil rights movements in the past, disability culture challenges the norms of society, and seeks to counter oppressive entities such as medicalization and institutionalization. Its core values as a culture are reflected in art, conversation, goals, or behaviors. These core values often include: "an acceptance of human differences, an acceptance of human vulnerability and interdependence, a tolerance for a lack of resolution of the unpredictable in life, and a humor to laugh at the oppressor or situation, however dire it may be". Read more...
  • Monoculturalism is the policy or process of supporting, advocating, or allowing the expression of the culture of a single social or ethnic group. It generally stems from beliefs within the dominant group that their cultural practices are superior to those of minority groups. In this context, it may also involve the process of assimilation whereby other ethnic groups are expected to adopt the culture and practices of the dominant ethnic group. Monoculturalism, in the context of cultural diversity, is the opposite of multiculturalism.

    Rather than the suppression of different ethnic groups within a given society, sometimes monoculturalism manifests as the active preservation of a country's national culture via the exclusion of external influences. Japan, China, South Korea, and North Korea are examples of this form of monoculturalism. However it may also be the result of less intentional factors such as geographic isolation, historical racial homogeneity, or political isolation. For instance, some European countries such as Finland, Poland and Scandinavia are still effectively monocultural because of the people's shared culture and ethnicity. Read more...
  • Cultural ecology is the study of human adaptations to social and physical environments. Human adaptation refers to both biological and cultural processes that enable a population to survive and reproduce within a given or changing environment. This may be carried out diachronically (examining entities that existed in different epochs), or synchronically (examining a present system and its components). The central argument is that the natural environment, in small scale or subsistence societies dependent in part upon it, is a major contributor to social organization and other human institutions. In the academic realm, when combined with study of political economy, the study of economies as polities, it becomes political ecology, another academic subfield. It also helps interrogate historical events like the Easter Island Syndrome. Read more...
  • From a series of woodcuts (1545) usually referred to as the Papstspotbilder or Papstspottbilder in German or Depictions of the Papacy in English, by Lucas Cranach, commissioned by Martin Luther. Title: Kissing the Pope's Feet. German peasants respond to a papal bull of Pope Paul III. Caption reads: "Don't frighten us Pope, with your ban, and don't be such a furious man. Otherwise we shall turn around and show you our rears."

    "Low culture" is a derogatory term for forms of popular culture that have mass appeal. Its contrast is "high culture", which can also be derogatory. It has been said by culture theorists that both high culture and low culture are subcultures.

    The boundaries of low culture and high culture blur, through convergence. Many people are "omnivores", making cultural choices from different menus. Read more...
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    In the news

    4 February 2019 –
    25-year-old Australian footballer and refugee from Bahrain, Hakeem al-Araibi, is ordered to defend an extradition order back to Bahrain in a Bangkok court, after being detained upon arrival in Thailand for his honeymoon with his wife in November 2018. International community is treating it as a human rights issue; a campaign to free al-Araibi and return him to Australia is growing. (news.com.au)
    31 January 2019 – January 2019 North American cold wave
    Several cities in the Midwestern United States and Eastern Canada reach record low temperatures for the third consecutive day as a polar vortex continues to affect the region. (The New York Times)
    29 January 2019 –
    Belgian authorities order DNA tests of children recently adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo following reports that several parents thought they were sending their children to a Kinshasa holiday camp not an orphanage. (Reuters via BBC)
    26 January 2019 –
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fires Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, following McCallum's remarks about the extradition of Huawei's CFO, Meng Wanzhou. (BBC)
    15 January 2019 – Prayagraj Kumbh 2019
    The largest human gathering in the world, the Kumbh Mela festival, starts at Prayagraj (previously known as Allahabad), India. More than 120 million Hindu devotees, as well as tourists, are expected. (The Guardian)
    13 January 2019 –
    A man stabs the Mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, on stage at a Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity event in Gdańsk, Poland. (The Guardian)

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