What is Culture? FH-Prof. Dr. Jim MillerSTITCH MODULE: Intercultural Communication Powerpoint Lecture 1
Which of these is an example of culture? Klimt, Birch Forest, 1902 Beech forest in Slovenia Both are, because both are the product of human activity (the forest is managed)
Basic Aspects of Culture Culture is much more than the Louve in Paris or the Musikverein in Vienna Culture covers everything—houses, clothes, food, language, morals, values, ideas—even the natural environment if altered by human activity
Definitions of Culture Culture is… an historically-transmitted, socially constructed system of beliefs, premises, symbols and their meanings that pertain to a group of people. Culture is… . . . in your head . . . in the way you talk . . . in your behavior . . . deeply felt Culture is a system of resources for understanding the world around you. Culture is the set of “tools” that our families and societies instill in us to get through life.
• Clothing • Food • what houses look like • how a language sounds • etc., etc. etc.• how clothing communicates status• what foods are tabu• how different tones of voice communicate different meanings• how different types of architecture are used• etc., etc., etc
The Cultural Iceburg In any society, most cultural meanings are to be found “below the water line” It takes intercultural skill to figure out what things mean Only when you begin to figure out what the things “below the line” mean, can you begin to act in a culturally appropriate manner A foreigner almost never can figure out what EVERYTHING below the line means
Effective InterculturalCommunication Requires a profound knowledge of yourself and your own culture Requires an appreciation for cultural difference and a willingness to accept other cultures as just as valid as your own Requires a knowledge of other cultural systems Requires a set of communication skills that are often just as useful if applied WITHIN your own culture as they are when applied in an intercultural setting
Welcome to theIntercultural Adventure! Acquiring these skills can be an exciting voyage of discovery