Re: Definitions of culture

thomas w kavanagh (tkavanag@INDIANA.EDU)
Wed, 7 Aug 1996 09:14:21 -0500

On Wed, 7 Aug 1996, Ralph L Holloway wrote:

> After all of the hundred or so
> definitions published by Redfield(?) and Kroeber,

Am I the only anthro who still keeps a desk copy within reach of Kroeber
and Kluckhohn's "Culture: a critical review of concepts and definitions"
(1952) with its 151 "definitions" analyzed as:

20 Descriptive
22 Historical (social heritage or tradition)
19 Normative (rule or way)
6 Normative (Ideals/Values plus behavior)
17 Psychological (adjustment/problem solving)
16 Psychological (learning)
3 Psychological (Habit)
2 "Purely psychological"
9 Structural (Patterning/organization)
20 "Genetic" (product or artifact)
10 "Genetic" (ideas)
5 "Genetic" (symbols)
5 Residual
7 Incomplete

This, of course is no to say that I actually use it, except to point out
that we are often like the blind men (oh!, sorry, "visually impaired
non-gendered scholars") trying to describe an elephant.

For my own Intro classes, my model of culture is a Ribik's Cube. It is a
complex whole, or at least we can sometimes think that of is as it it was.
(Other times it really is a 'thing of shreds and patches'). Depending on
what aspect we need to talk about, we will emphasize one part over
another. But the more we investigate that aspect, the more we will find
that it is intimately involved in other aspects, and vice versa.