Monday, January 12, 2009

What is Culture?

It has been said, “Culture is like water and we are the fish. We don’t know what the water tastes like until we are moved to a different type of water.” But for me culture is simply, “the way we do things around here”.

I like this flippant comment for various reasons: firstly it’s short and sweet and imediately gets to the point; secondly it’s easy to understand; and finally it points out that what happens here is going to be different from anywhere else.

"The way we do things around here” is what I've come to believe culture is. Culture comes from everything around us, that which we control and that which we don’t control; the explicit and the implicit, the micro, the meso and the macro:

1. the micro - self experiences
thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears and emotions of a single person over a period of time, within a specific geographic location

2. the meso – those we communicate with regularly
The thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears and emotions of all the people you come into contact with during your day to day existence, within a specific geographic area

3. the macro – societal framework
The business community, the government, the legislative process and implementation of all this within a specific geographical area

This Author's Definition of Culture
2009, January 10th; to be updated as and when I understand more:

“A learned process which is relevant to a specific time, geographic location and a defined group of people. These combine together to form a complex set of written and unwritten, spoken and unspoken, explicit and implicit rules which the group members generally adhere to, whilst in that particular location.”

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