Culture defined – other authors

Geert Hofstede defines culture as “the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes the members of one human group from those of another.”[1]

Campbell on his part defines culture as “a complex web of information that a person learns and which guides each person’s actions, experiences, and perceptions”.[2]

By its nature a “definition” ought to delimit a concept to such an extent that the hearer understands the truth of the reality completely.  At first glance, none of the above two definitions does this for “culture”.  While the first one seems even more abstract and ambiguous than the term being defined, describing it as “collective programming”, the second defines it a a web of “information”, not specific enough to embrace the meaning of the concept.

Banks defines culture as “the behavior, patterns, symbols, institutions, values, and other human made components of the society”.[3]  And finally, Patricia Marshall defines it as “consistent ways in which people experience, interpret, and respond to the world around[4].

While we may argue that none of these definitions seem to convey the meaning of culture completely, there are common elements to be found among them.  Consider Banks’ “patterns”, and Marshall’s “consistent ways”.  Some of these elements include norms, values, behaviour patterns, rituals and traditions.  These terms are not synonymous and are to be found in one form or another in various definitions of culture.  They are manifestations of culture and express some aspects of it, but culture itself (the essence) is much deeper. Furthermore all of these have in common the concept of “sharing” in that to be considered culture, they have be found in many members of a group in the same way, over a period of time.

[1] Di Geert H. Hofstede, “Culture’s consequences: international differences in work-related values”.  SAGE, 1984 – 327 (p. 21)

[2] D. E. Campbell, Choosing Democracy, 2nd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice‐Hall, 2000), 38.

[3] J. Banks, Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies, 5th ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice‐Hall, 1984), 52.

[4] Marshall, P. L. (2002). Cultural Diversity in Our Schools. Belmont: Wadsworth.

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