Culture~ Communication Ver1.0
Learning With Krishnamurthy Prabhakar 0.0.0
Topic Assigned to Me
• Society and Communication.
Learning Sessions and Safe
• There are four sessions with each session ~ 90 minutes.
• You are welcome to learn with me I am just multiple zeros
0.0.0 (my educational qualifications and me are multiplicative
to ensure that I always get zero )
• I do not think that you need to take notes, as I do not carry a
note book to see Blood Diamonds or In Pursuit of Happiness
or Enthiran . (debate?)
• All required reading material will be sent to you through the
• Listen, learn and take it to your mind and heart if you are
convinced about the arguments~ to be unconsciously
competent~ practice (How?)
• Debate my assertions~ thoughts~ musings ~ rambling.
• For every sessions you need to write an
assignment, which can be submitted
• Approximately ten hours of reading and
five hours of assignment work need to be
spent by the student to understand the
basic concepts and earn the grades.
• The grading policy.
Some Questions~ How Do We
• From which perspective should we study human
5. Linguistic, historical, political or economic?
6. Bio-socio- anthrop- psycho- linguist perspective as
one of my student has suggested. If this perspective
exists, how to go about it?
Learning Tips~ Based on
The Word CULTURE
• Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere,
meaning "to cultivate")
• The word culture originates in middle English (”a
cultivated piece of land”) from the French word culture
and from the Latin verb culturare (”to cultivate”).
• All versions of the word ultimately come from the early
Latin colere (”to till or cultivate the ground”).
• A review of overarching themes and patterns in
definitions of culture in various disciplines might be
beneficial to our understanding of culture.
Culture Definition- The Beginning
• Sir Edward Burnett
Tylor(1871) defines culture
“as a complex whole which
belief, art, morals, law,
custom, and any other
capabilities and habits
acquired by man as a
member of society” or ~
• Therefore it is “socially patterned human behaviour
and thought”. This definition means that humans will
predictably act in certain ways in certain situations.
For example, when humans come in contact they will
greet each other.
• Behaviour that is received from society~ part of an
individual’s habit~ learned behaviour~ social
Two aspects of culture
• Objective and concrete~ Technology,
instruments, hunting, system of agriculture
and industry or what man has made.
• Internal and abstract~ Ideas and emotions
such as knowledge, art, customs, belief
and law or system of meanings. It can be
norms and values.
• The first inventory of cultural categories was
undertaken in 1872 by a committee of the
British Association for the Advancement of
Science with help of Taylor(1872).
• It had seventy six culture
topics~637subdivisions~ cultural universes.
• One of the example is Food Quest with
subdivisions such as collecting, hunting and
fishing. It is still in use.
Kroeber and Kluckhon (1952)
• Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for
behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting
the distinctive achievement of human groups, including
their embodiment in artifacts ( both i and e are
acceptable and include ecofact); the essential core of
culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and
selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture
systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products
of action, on the other as conditioning elements of
• Explicit or implicit
• Of and for behaviour
• Acquired and transmitted by symbols
• distinctive achievements of human kind +artifacts
• Tradition and its attached values
• products of action
• conditioning elements of further action
• A cultural artifact is a term used
in sociology or in social
sciences and for things created
by humans which gives
information about the culture of
its creator and users.
• Cultural artifact can provide
knowledge about technological
processes, economy and social
makeup, and a host of other
• The disappearing Indian farmer
( for every three hours 50 farmers
commit suicide in our country)
• What is the difference between the definition of
Taylor and Kroeber and Kluckhon ?
• Taylor defined culture as “the learned behavior.”
• However, Kroeber and Kluckhohn argued that the concept
of culture is based on the study of behavior and behavioral
• culture cannot be conceptualized as only the behavior or
the investigation of behavior. Instead, part of culture
consists of norms for or standards of behavior, and
another part consists of ideologies justifying or
rationalizing certain ways of behavior.
• Every culture includes broad general principles of
selectivity and ordering about behavior.
Aspects of Culture
• Biological~ Human biological traits and
requirement~ Eyes, ears, tongue, nose, mouth
• Ecological~ Physical environment and
settlements~ transportation~ living
• Social~ biological and ecological tend to remain
the same. Interaction, needs, capacity to learn
and social influences of invention and
• Economic~ Class
Theories of Culture
• Evolutionist~ culture moves towards differentiated
conditions-instruments, rites, rituals, development of
communities and system of production. Marx argued the
transition tribal, ancient, feudal, and capitalist- and that
the present capitalist mode of production is bound to be
superseded by the socialist mode of production. What is
at present we have is CAPITALISM 3.0.
• Functionalist~ how agglomerates and elements of
society function; Marriage, economic institutions, police
• Expansionist~ special elements of culture develop at a
particular place and expand to other places,e.g Buddism.
Seven Clusters Of Definition Of
1. Structure/pattern: Definitions that look at culture in terms of a system
or framework of elements (e.g., ideas, behavior, symbols, or any
combination of these or other elements)
2. Function: Definitions that see culture as a tool for achieving some end
3. Process: Definitions that focus on the ongoing social construction of
4. Product: Definitions of culture in terms of artifacts (with or without
deliberate symbolic intent)
5. Refinement: Definitions that frame culture as a sense of individual or
group cultivation to higher intellect or morality
6. Power or ideology: Definitions that focus on group-based power
(including postmodern and postcolonial definitions)
7. Group membership: Definitions that speak of culture in terms of a
place or group of people, or that focus on belonging to such a place or
John Bodley (1994): Diverse Definitions
Culture consists of everything on a list of topics, or categories, such as
social organization, religion, or economy
Culture is social heritage, or tradition, that is passed on to future
Behavioral: Culture is shared, learned human behavior, a way of life
Normative: Culture is ideals, values, or rules for living
Culture is the way humans solve problems of adapting to the environment
or living together
Culture is a complex of ideas, or learned habits, that inhibit impulses and
distinguish people from animals
Structural: Culture consists of patterned and interrelated ideas, symbols, or behaviors
Culture is based on arbitrarily assigned meanings that are shared by a
Some aspects of culture~ how we
are different from animals?
• The shared aspect of culture means that it is a social phenomenon;
idiosyncratic behavior is not cultural.
• Culture is learned, not biologically inherited, and involves arbitrarily
assigned, symbolic meanings.
• The human ability to assign arbitrary meaning to any object, behavior or
condition makes people creative and readily distinguishes culture from
• People can teach animals to respond to cultural symbols, but animals do
not create their own symbols. Furthermore, animals have the capability of
limited tool manufacture and use, but human tool use is extensive enough
to rank as qualitatively different and human tools often carry heavy symbolic
• The symbolic element of human language, especially speech, is again a
vast qualitative expansion over animal communication systems.
• Speech is infinitely more productive and allows people to communicate
about things that are remote in time and space
Culture Has to Be Explained by
• The cross-generational aspect of culture has led some
anthropologists, especially Kroeber (1917) and Leslie
White (1949), to treat culture as a super organic entity,
existing beyond its individual human carriers.
• Individuals are born into and are shaped by a pre-
existing culture that continues to exist after they die.
Kroeber and White argued that the influence that
specific individuals might have over culture would itself
be largely determined by culture. Thus culture exists as
a different order of phenomena that can best be
explained in terms of itself.
Cultural Change~ Two
• Innovation- Primary innovations are to get away
from struggle for existence- secondary innovations
make life more comfortable~ it is based on man’s
creative intelligence. Indian Jugaad.
• Expansion-When one society learns, adopt, adapt,
borrows from other society. This leads to
• How many accredited journalists cover fashion
show in India and for how long? 512 for one week.
Valentines day, Mothers day, Women Friendship
• Culture keeps changing as a function of
time. Material things change compared to
non material things.
Causes for Human Pain-1800
• Karl Marx wrote about alienation, as the effect of the
separation between the worker and the product of his
labour under capitalist labour relations.
• Durkheim, in turn, was concerned with anomie, a
pathological -and, thus, temporary- characteristic of
societies in which the division of labor does not evolve
naturally, but may be forced by unequal social relations
• Max Weber was preoccupied with the fall of substantial
rationality as a logical outcome of the process of
rationalization in the modern world.
• Sigmund Freud, in turn, identified neurosis as the
malady of the modern times.
• Sapir (1921): “Human beings do not live
in the objective world alone, nor alone in
the world of social activity as ordinarily
understood, but are very much at the
mercy of the particular language which
has become the medium of expression in
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
• It theorizes that thoughts and behavior are determined
(or are at least partially influenced) by language.
• Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf brought
attention to the relationship between language,
thought, and culture. Two main ideas can be
• A theory of linguistic determinism that states that the
language you speak determines the way that you will
interpret the world around you.
• A weaker theory of linguistic relativism states that
language merely influences your thoughts about the
• Humboldt wrote in Gesammelte Werke a strong
version of linguistic determinism:
• "Man lives in the world about him
principally, indeed exclusively, as
language presents it to him.”
• Sapir took this idea after one hundred years
and expanded on it. Although he did not always
support this firm hypothesis, his writings state
that there is clearly a connection between
language and thought.
Quote That Emphasize
• From "The Status of Linguistics as a Science" (1929)
Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the
world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the
mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of
expression in their society.
• It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without
the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of
solving specific problems of communication or reflection: The fact of the
matter is that the ‘real world' is to a large extent unconsciously built up on
the language habits of the group.
• No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as
representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies
live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels
• Simple acts of perception are very much more at the mercy of the social
patterns called words than we might suppose. We see and hear and
otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of
our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.
• Sapir used firm language to describe this connection
between language and thought. To Sapir, the individual
is unconscious to this connection and subject to it
Whorf devised the weaker theory of linguistic relativity.
• "We are thus introduced to a new principle of relativity,
which holds that all observers are not led by the same
physical evidence to the same picture of the universe..."
• He also supported, at times, the stronger linguistic
determinism. To Whorf, this connection between
language and thought was also an obligation not a
• As a result of differences in language, people
in different cultures will think about, perceive,
and behave toward the world differently.
• Reality itself is already embedded in
language and therefore comes preformed.
• Language determines, enabling and
constraining, what is perceived and attended
to in a culture, as well as the upper limits of
• What of Culture
• We learnt definition of culture from
• Examined two definitions.
• How of Culture
• We examined the how it is related to