View Full Version : What is culture?

May 8th, 2011, 1:44 PM
This is the Culture & Media section and there is plenty of media discussion, but not so much on culture? Or is there? I don't really know because 'culture' is such a broad term that it gets hard to know when we're talking about.

So let's talk about it. What is your culture like? Your subculture? And what exactly is culture anyway? Let's have a cultural exchange.

Rogue planet
May 9th, 2011, 8:45 AM
To me, culture is usually something on a national scale. The common beliefs in a nation, the cuisine, national practices and celebrations, the lifestyle. Although I often find myself wondering if such a thing really exists any more in the modern world; at least for my country.

When I think of England, all I think of are football fans and eating kebabs after a night out on the lash. Neither of which I'm very interested in. Maybe I've become so accustomed to every other part of my culture that I just take it for granted now, and it takes an outsider to truly notice every part of the culture. For me personally, I don't really partake in anything that could be seen as 'British'. These days everything is just so multicultural; the meals I eat are usually Italian or Chinese, I enjoy media from across the world, and I have no love for Britain. In my eyes, there are so many different aspects of so many different cultures are now at our grasp that we just pick and choose whatever we want.

Although, I think this could really apply to many western nations. I've been to France and Germany and I see the same stores, brands, food (mostly) and celebrities (nearly all American). It really seems that so much traditional culture has died out after Americanisation and the development of a multicultural society; maybe that is the modern culture of the western world? I think that maybe countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and maybe South America retain a distinct culture; but I couldn't say for sure because I've never been to any of them.
Americans I have spoken to seem to think England is all about afternoon tea and biscuits, talking like a nobleman, being polite and respecting the Queen. I think they're about 100 years too late.

Subcultures are an entirely different kettle of fish, and I've never been a part of one so I don't really have much to say on the matter.

May 10th, 2011, 10:18 AM
I get a little baffled by the idea of culture since, like you said, it's hard to look at your own and see anything that stands out. In my more cynical moments I tend toward the idea that there isn't much culture out there, at least for the developed world, and just media, merchandise, and other messages being pumped into us and that we just skip from fad to fad and that's all we have for culture.

Because, personally, I don't think that table manners and things like that are a real part of culture. They're just things you grow up with and do to get along. I know that's kind of a simplistic description of what culture is supposed to be - things that everyone does - but that just doesn't feel like what 'culture' is supposed to be.

I mean, I have interests in certain subcultures, although it might be more appropriate to say that I slip into and out of them without going very deep, like a cultural chameleon. I can't think of anyone I know who fits into a single culture and that to me is a sign that there might not really be any particular cultures out there, just he shifting subcultures and media.

... that was pretty rambling.

Mr Cat Dog
May 11th, 2011, 7:21 AM
Wikipedia says it has three meanings, apparently:

Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture
An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviour that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group

To be honest, when I think of culture, I think of the first one but without the parameters of 'fine' arts or 'high' culture. Whether we like it or not, Jersey Shore is as much a cultural export as Brahms and Rachmaninoff. Visual arts, literature, cinema, television, theatre, sports, food... I guess most of the stuff that people do that isn't to do with their work could be placed under some cultural context (and people whose job it is to spread culture have that as well!)