Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Long on Culture..and my Reaction

So the first thing this class has done is entirely uproot my definition of 'definition,' and I'm okay with that. As I'm quickly learning, defining things like sci-fi and culture take more than the OED (as much as we love it). Long explains culture as a "metaphor for human development" (page 7), which I think makes sense. From my experiences, culture is the collection of customs, traditions, actions, beliefs, history and language (much of which is influenced by religion) that guides the way individuals behave on a daily basis. All of those elements I listed above influence our growth and development through life and as a society (or various societies depending on different cultures); thus culture is a metaphor for "human development," a way of explaining human development. And you can't really define culture any deeper than this (I think I probably defined culture too narrowly). I think the hammer example was well used to explain how terms have different meanings in different settings. In the same way, culture means different things to different people, depending on their backgrounds and histories. It's a very vague term, one that I don't think can be defined through the "nomothetic" or "idiographic" approaches. Both are too extreme, and would yield either a too-distant or too-narrow definition. You have to get into a culture a little bit, but remain a bystander on some level to give a rounded subjective and objective opinion.

1 comment:

  1. For the most part, I tend to agree with you, Poonam. I like your broader definition of culture because I think a culture is anything that groups people together. For example, each room in a dorm has its own culture that is different than the one next door, but the entire floor also has its own culture that is different than those above and below it. In this fashion, I believe that you can zoom into smaller 'microcultures,' while at the same time, culture can be more inclusive, such as the culture of GW students as a whole. In this definition, one will belong to numerous cultures. I think to define one of your cultures it must be extremely specific because just saying the Thurston Culture of GW Culture is far too broad. Outsiders would have no idea what was these cultures include, whereas those within or observers of these cultures may have a very clear idea of what these represent. The question that if God has to be a part of the definition of that every culture to be considered a culture is absurd. I would argue that the culture of Thurston may involve God to a extent, since religious people live there and may have God as a part of their life, but it isn't a defining factor of that culture.