What do we mean under CULTURE?

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    Hi everyone,

    Some words about me: I am PhD-student from Kazakhstan at EUV (Germany) and intercultural theme is one of my main research interests.

    In this context I am asking myself, what is culture: without to understand, what do we mean under culture, we cannot speak about intercultural, isn’t it?

    I am looking forward about your opinions!

    I think, the most of us are imprisoned in our narrow definition, that culture has bounds like a state nation, but may be in this case we had to speak about intercultural like interethnical competence. For example: I am from Kazakhstan, my father is Russian, my mother is Tatar, so which culture (ethnic) can I understand as mine?

    Nick Stone

    Hi NTF, thanks for your contribution.

    Kroeber & Kluckhohn 1952 offered164 definitions!

    I personally like this one for teaching purposes: ‘The set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by a group of people, but different for each individual, communicated from one generation to the next.’ Matsumoto, D. (1996) Culture and Psychology, Pacific Grove, CA:Brooks/Cole.

    The word ‘culture’ is a human construct covering a huge range of possible meanings, so I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what the ‘right one’ is.

    You raise a good point about your own cultural identity. Of course many people are influenced by more than one main cultural group, perhaps having several ‘cultural identities’, and some may not feel very strongly associated with any one group.

    Let’s break out of the prison!

    Best wishes



    I think you both make excellent points. Matsumoto’s definition is a good one because it foregrounds the individual. My own story is thus:

    I am a Dutchman, born in Canada. I am a student in New Zealand, but my cultural life–family, media, language–is over 80% mediated in Korean. I have not a drop of Korean blood in me, however. Culture isn’t something I embody, it’s a arena (or rather, a series of arenas within a global circus) in which I operate.

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