Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Kairouan

Share your knowledge with us, Welcome to the English Department

    1st semester: Civ:What is culture?Several definitions:


    Number of posts : 248
    Age : 32
    Registration date : 2007-02-11

    Character sheet
    Dice Game:
    100/100  (100/100)

    1st semester: Civ:What is culture?Several definitions:

    Post by laflouf86 on Sun Nov 11, 2007 8:52 am

    Banks, J.A., Banks, & McGee, C. A. (1989). Multicultural education. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

    "Most social scientists today view culture as consisting primarily of the symbolic, ideational, and intangible aspects of human societies. The essence of a culture is not its artifacts, tools, or other tangible cultural elements but how the members of the group interpret, use, and perceive them. It is the values, symbols, interpretations, and perspectives that distinguish one people from another in modernized societies; it is not material objects and other tangible aspects of human societies. People within a culture usually interpret the meaning of symbols, artifacts, and behaviors in the same or in similar ways."

    Damen, L. (1987). Culture Learning: The Fifth Dimension on the Language Classroom. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

    "Culture: learned and shared human patterns or models for living; day- to-day living patterns. these patterns and models pervade all aspects of human social interaction. Culture is mankind's primary adaptive mechanism" (p. 367).

    Hofstede, G. (1984). National cultures and corporate cultures. In L.A. Samovar & R.E. Porter (Eds.), Communication Between Cultures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

    "Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another." (p. 51).

    Kluckhohn, C., & Kelly, W.H. (1945). The concept of culture. In R. Linton (Ed.). The Science of Man in the World Culture. New York. (pp. 78-105).

    "By culture we mean all those historically created designs for living, explicit and implicit, rational, irrational, and nonrational, which exist at any given time as potential guides for the behavior of men."

    Kroeber, A.L., & Kluckhohn, C. (1952). Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions. Harvard University Peabody Museum of American Archeology and Ethnology Papers 47.

    " Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, and on the other as conditioning elements of further action."

    Lederach, J.P. (1995). Preparing for peace: Conflict transformation across cultures. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

    "Culture is the shared knowledge and schemes created by a set of people for perceiving, interpreting, expressing, and responding to the social realities around them" (p. 9).

    Linton, R. (1945). The Cultural Background of Personality. New York.

    "A culture is a configuration of learned behaviors and results of behavior whose component elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a particular society" (p. 32).

    Parson, T. (1949). Essays in Sociological Theory. Glencoe, IL.

    "Culture...consists in those patterns relative to behavior and the products of human action which may be inherited, that is, passed on from generation to generation independently of the biological genes"

    Useem, J., & Useem, R. (1963). Human Organizations, 22(3).

    "Culture has been defined in a number of ways, but most simply, as the learned and shared behavior of a community of interacting human beings" (p. 169).


    Number of posts : 248
    Age : 32
    Registration date : 2007-02-11

    Character sheet
    Dice Game:
    100/100  (100/100)

    Re: 1st semester: Civ:What is culture?Several definitions:

    Post by laflouf86 on Sun Nov 11, 2007 9:13 am

    Defining Culture:

    Culture has been called "the way of life for an entire society." As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief as well as the arts and gastronomy.

    Various definitions of culture reflect differing theories for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity. Edward Burnett Tylor writing from the perspective of social anthropology in the UK in 1871 described culture in the following way: "Culture or civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society."

    More recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) (2002) described culture as follows: "... culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs"

    While these two definitions cover a range of meaning, they do not exhaust the many uses of the term "culture." In 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions.

    These definitions, and many others, provide a catalog of the elements of culture. The items cataloged (e.g., a law, a stone tool, a marriage) each have an existence and life-line of their own. They come into space-time at one set of coordinates and go out of it another. While here, they change, so that one may speak of the evolution of the law or the tool.

    A culture, then, is by definition at least, a set of cultural objects. Anthropologist Leslie White asked: "What sort of objects are they? Are they physical objects? Mental objects? Both? Metaphors? Symbols? Reifications?" In Science of Culture (1949), he concluded that they are objects "sui generis"; that is, of their own kind. In trying to define that kind, he hit upon a previously unrealized aspect of symbolization, which he called "the symbolate"an object created by the act of symbolization. He thus defined culture as "symbolates understood in an extra-somatic context." The key to this definition is the discovery of the symbolate.

    Seeking to provide a practical definition, social theorist, Peter Walters, describes culture simply as "shared schematic experience", including, but not limited to, any of the various qualifiers (linguistic, artistic, religious, etc.) included in previous definitions


    Number of posts : 248
    Age : 32
    Registration date : 2007-02-11

    Character sheet
    Dice Game:
    100/100  (100/100)

    Defining culture

    Post by laflouf86 on Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:58 pm


    How do sociologists define culture?
    "The total, generally organized way of life, including values, norms, institutions, and artifacts, that is passed on from generation to generation by learning alone" -- Dictionary of Modern Sociology
    "The patterned behavior resulting from social interaction" -- Francis Merill
    "All the behavior and related products which men, as members of human society, acquire by means of symbolic interaction..."
    "Sociocultural" "Pertaining to the social and the cultural in human life, the two terms, society and culture, being combined into one so as to call attention to the functional inseparability of these two essential aspects of human existence" -- Dictionary of Modern Sociology
    "Culture stems from the development and transmission of human belief in symbols" "The language system is a series of symbols used to transmit cultural beliefs among members of a society" "Messages about cultural expectations can be found in the media, government, religious institutions, educational systems, and the like."-- Boudon et. al 1989
    "That part of the total repertoire of human action (and its products), which is socially as opposed to genetically transmitted. -- Dictionary of Sociology, D. Mitchell (ed.)
    "society relies on a culture that has unwritten rules and guidelines."
    Members of the human species are trained in the family and in their education, formal and informal, to behave in ways that are conventional and fixed by tradition.
    In some instances culture can be considered detrimental to the individual person.
    What is the dominant or common culture?
    "Common Culture: "A commonly shared system of symbols, the meaning of which are understood on both sides with an approximation to agreement." T. Parsons.
    What is a subculture?
    "A subculture may arise when an attempt is made to resolve collectively experienced problems resulting from contradictions in the social structure, and they generate a form of collective identity from which an individual identity can be achieved."-- Comparative Youth Culture by M.. Brake
    Sometimes they refer to 'a culture' as 'a society' which is often imprecise, since it is extremely difficult to define an entire population as having distinctive cultural characteristics. Culture may also refer to a system of values, ideas, and behaviors which may be associated with a social or national group (e.g., African American Culture). The minority cultures which lay within a larger dominant culture are often described as sub-cultures. As outlined in her book The Individual and Culture "The 'whole' culture is a composite of varying and overlapping sub-cultures." ... Anthropologists may also speak of the 'personal culture' of a single individual.
    Some sociologists view culture as "fragmented and diversified" (Lane 1984). This view takes a different approach to culture in that it relies on sub-cultures to come together to form one culture. Without each of the individual cultures the whole concept of culture would be incomplete. According to Lane, "In contemporary society there is no agreement whether societies possess a dominant culture or ideology"
    "Subcultures, such as teenagers, exist as cultural undercurrents in the general society which don't encroach upon the main culture, but are important to some members." (Davies, 1972)
    What does culture of poverty mean?
    The culture of poverty is not just a matter of deprivation or disorganization, a term signifying the absence of something. It is a culture in the traditional Anthropological sense in that it provides human beings with a design for living, with a ready-made set of solutions for human problems, and so serves a significant adaptive function" -- O. Lewis 1966 Culture of Poverty, Scientific American.
    "Culture of poverty" was developed by Oscar Lewis. Fatalism is the key aspect which leads this culture to continually repeat itself. The poor learn to cope instead of finding a way out because they feel this lifestyle is inevitable.. This theory has been criticized because it "blames the victim" and neglects external influences on economic development.
    What is cultural lag?
    Concept developed by Wm. Ogburn to describe the uneven processes of social, cultural, and technological change. Social changes tend to "lag" behind technological change. Cultural lag "result(s) when a culture's social institutions fail to adapt their functions so as to mesh with the changes in other parts of the larger sociocultural system" --Encyclopedia of Sociology (1981)
    What is culture shock?
    The disruption of one's normal social perspectives (own society, subculture, membership groups) as a result of confrontation with an alien culture. Might also apply to the experience of cultural lag resulting from massive and continuing technological change. e.g., future shock
    What is cultural a definition of the situation?
    "...An individual's interpretation of any given set of circumstances, such interpretations generally being largely dependent upon the cultural values in terms of which the individual has been socialized." -- Henry Fairchild

    How do Anthropologists define culture?
    The anthropologist's term "culture" originated in the 19th century. The idea first appeared in the Renaissance. "recognizing that the customs, beliefs, social forms, and languages of Europe's past were different from the present. ...The second period of culture occurred when it was recognized that "contemporary men themselves in different regions of the world varied even more widely in the languages they spoke, the rituals they practiced, and the kinds of societies they lived in." -- Encyclopedia of Sociology
    "Culture is a well organized unity divided into two fundamental aspects -- a body of artifacts and a system of customs -- Malinowski.
    "Humans cannot eat, breathe, defecate, mate, reproduce, sit move about, sleep or lie down without following or expressing some aspect of their society's culture. Our cultures grow, expand, evolve. Its their nature." -- Marvin Harris
    The culture of a people is an ensemble of texts, themselves ensembles, which the anthropologist strains to read over the shoulders of those to whom they properly belong." -Geertz, Balinese Cockfight (222)
    Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretative one in search of meaning." -- Geertz, Interpretation of Cultures (5).
    "people do not realize how greatly culture influences their behavior until they come across other ways of doing things."
    "Culture is learned behavior" A person is not born with a culture. Culture is a universal, every human being possesses it by virtue of their biological state.
    "(Cultural Anthropology) is inherently pluralistic, seeking a framework in which the distinctive perspectives of each cultural world can be appreciated."
    "(c)ultural practices are meaningful actions that occur routinely in everyday life, are widely shared by members of the group, and carry with them normative expectations about how things should be done" (Goodnow, Miller and Kissell, 1995)
    "A collective name for all behavior patterns socially acquired and socially transmitted by means of symbols, hence a name for all the distinctive achievements of human groups." -- Dictionary of Sociology and Related Sciences
    "Culture is or civilization... is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man (sic.) as a member of society." -- Edward Tylor
    "Culture embraces all the manifestations of social habits of a community, the reactions of the individual as affected by the habits of the group in which he lives, and the product of human activities as determined by these habits." -- Franz Boas
    Sociocultural Anthropology focuses on how language, customs, and culture in general develop.
    Cultural Anthropologists compare and contrast the vast range of cultures with the hope of better understanding "the diversity of human behavior, and ultimately to develop a science of human behavior." --Friedl, J. Cultural Anthropology
    What is traditional (or folk) culture?
    "Traditional culture is the habitual behaviors or thoughts of any given social group, and there is not only the chance of customary behaviors occurring, customary behaviors are expected and generally required by members of the society (Smith-Seymour, 1986).
    Folk culture is a model of the peasant community characterized by economic self-sufficiency, intimate social ties, the strong role of ritual and tradition, and the relative isolation from urban centers. The concept of folk culture is that it represents an attempt to characterize the values and social structure of traditional, rural communities existing within complex societies.
    What methods do they use to study culture?
    Fieldwork: visiting and living among a particular people.
    Mapping, inventories, census, behavior protocols, questionnaires, projective tests, collecting genealogies, kinship terminologies, oral traditions, recording cases, and tracing networks." (Hunter and Whitten, 1976)
    In order to study these cultures, ethnographers had to become part of them. Live with the people for extended periods of time. To study different groups of people, the scientists had to become immersed in their study.
    One important qualification that anthropologists should possess is a strong awareness of their own culture. Although it is necessary for Anthropologists to be as unbiased as possible, it is also necessary for Anthropologists to be aware of their cultural tendencies in order to comprehend another's culture. Therefore, absolute objectivity, which would require that the Anthropologist have no biases, and in result no culture at all, should be given up in favor of a relative objectivity based on the characteristics of one's own culture. The Anthropologist is forced to include himself and his own way of life in his subject matter. In order to study others, and to study culture in general, the Anthropologist uses his own culture.
    What is material culture?
    Culture involves much more than behavioral traits, it includes all produced artifacts -- tools, art, books and texts etc.
    "Probably no other country in the world has such high regard for material culture as the United States"
    "Cultural materialism is a type of analysis that looks at ecology and economics for explanation of cultural beliefs and practices. It tries to explain cultural habits in terms of basic needs. 'A cultural materialist view of history looks for relationships between the use of new technologies, population booms, the material improvement of life, and the collapse of civilization." (Fisher, 1986)
    What is cultural diffusion? "The worldwide tendency of human populations to share and pool creative efforts which are in origin locally known and used." -- David Hunter

    "An educated man is not always a cultured man, although a cultured man is usually educated ... and that the cultured man is not merely the knowledgeable man, but the man who uses his knowledge humanely" (Ashley Montagu).
    How do humanities scholars define culture?
    A Thesaurus of Word Roots of the English Language describes the root of the word culture like this: cult (Latin) meaning tend, care for. Cultus meaning care cultivation. These being the roots of the word culture, care...
    The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions (including schools), and art, from one generation to the next." -- Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

    Sponsored content

    Re: 1st semester: Civ:What is culture?Several definitions:

    Post by Sponsored content

      Current date/time is Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:47 am