Culture and Identity the Combined Article

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 20
  • Subject: Anthropology
  • Type: Article
  • Paper: #89391251

Excerpt from Article :

A widely quoted and interesting functioning definition has been provided by Geert Hofstede who suggests that culture should be considered as software of a person's mind. He is reported to have said that each individual possesses certain patterns and forms of contemplation, emotions and possible acting that they have probably acquired during their life (Hofstede and Hofstede, 2005).

Most of these patterns have been obtained through their early childhood experiences as those are the time when an individual is most likely to acquire learning and build on it. Just the way a computer regards its "thought processes" and functioning as its software, the patterns or formations of thinking, experiencing and carrying out psychological processes in an individual can be referred to as the software program of the mind (Hofstede and Hofstede, 2005).

However, this does not imply, most definitely that individuals are supposed to function or behave as a computer does. An individual's actions or behavior is affected or decided by his or her "software" only to a certain degree. The person typically possesses a basic ability to go away altogether from the predetermined patterns and carry out something entirely new, innovative, damaging or unpredictable. The thought processes first begins with a person's own relatives, expands to the nearby regions, at the learning place, in social societies, at work and thus, spreads out in the entire society (Hofstede and Hofstede, 2005, 2-3) (Hall, 1989).

One another noteworthy standpoint was provided by the British Cultural Studies, particularly by Raymond Williams who stated that culture can be defined as "a way of life," expanding considerably the scope of the concept and thereby, legalizing the mass culture and the contemporary types of entertainment as various facets of cultures. He (1976, 13) considers that this way of life is enclosed within a certain system incorporating noteworthy customs comprising of communication, media, philosophy, production, fashion etc. (Williams, 1976).

Individuals comprehend the world and its implications by a framework of shared notions, principles that are conceptually and culturally strengthened. Even though individuals may not realize it, the cultural identification of meaning is inherent in the language. As words are the most significant forms of human interaction they should not be considered just mere conveyors of messages. Even more so, all types of interaction (oral, non-oral, visual, auditory etc.) shape the way individuals carry out their thought processes (Hall, 1989)..

For instance, if a certain train that should depart at 9:30 departs 20 minutes later, it does not come to be known as the 9:50 train but as the 9:30 train that got late. The very concept of time, which is assumed to be a given, has cultural implications in the form of rightful or incorrect social behavior (Valentine, 1995, 31). Culture is, thus, "a lens" (McCracken, 1986) by means of which people can view happenings, understand or collect them (Hall, 1989).

The concept of culture can be better comprehended if it is considered as a group of common meanings, and thus a signifying framework or order. The signifying order is a combination or a group of symbols, signals and writings that a social faction develops and applies to meet the demands of day-to-day lives and plan potential practices. Thus, from this standpoint, culture is a way of life that is premised on the signifying order established initially in an ethnic setting, which is carried forward by means of the signifying order from one family in the lineage to other (Danesi, Peron, 1999, 22).

Therefore, approaching the topic from a different angle, it can be concluded that as soon as the language hindrance of individuals are surpassed, intercultural interactions between individuals can be facilitated, who would then be able to comprehend each other. To conclude for this research, culture can be defined a historically conveyed or carried forward framework of signs, implications, actions, notions and principles that distinguish a group of people from others (Hall, 1989).

The notion of mass and popular culture became apparent during the time of the nineteenth century and the concept of culture gained the characteristics of what it means today. We, as a society live by defining, labeling and classifying the things around us and this is facilitated by what we acquire from our culture. As per Sotshangane (2002; as cited in Andrejs and Iveta, 2009), culture can be best regarded as a resource like energy, food, wind etc. And it can be considered as the ways and the outcomes of individual communication with and significant modifications of the nature. This communication is directed to move to a surrounding that is more fit for human existence and to the entire plan of action of human orientation within the surrounding.

Moreover, culture can also be regarded as the customary type of life in the form of a national society which has attained a shared perception of self, a standardized value framework and style of living as well as the integration of a shared identity by a process of industrialization and modernization. The concept can also be regarded as a set of commonly adjustable resources. As per, Malinowski (1944; as cited in Andrejs and Iveta, 2009) there are three elements to culture process and include culture components, individual societies and a structure of signs.

The concept of culture can also be outlined as capital which keeps adding onto itself and paves way to social advantages. It can also be modified to acquire another form of capital and can be fostered to expand (Denner, 1998; as cited in Andrejs and Iveta, 2009). A community having a cultural fund and acknowledging its function in the financial and social establishment earns itself substantial benefits during the time following globalization.

As per Fukuyama (2007; as cited in Andrejs and Iveta, 2009), each nation will be forced to identify its own path and way in the contemporary globalized world. Modernism and advancements ultimately are identified by the individuals who reside in the respective setting instead of outsides. Thus, in the times of globalization the culture starts to become an important factor of success of in a certain area (Podberezkin, 2007; as cited in Andrejs and Iveta, 2009).

Cultural Identity

According to Keillor (1999) the concept of identity can be considered in the "sense of culture" (Keillor, 1999). It is the degree to the point where a certain culture acknowledges and defines its distinctive features. Thereby, the cultural perception of the locality appears to be the group of meanings possessed by a certain culture that makes it different from the cultures of other areas. It is the extent to the point where a society and its people have a positive idea of cultural, ethinic, local and national distinctiveness (Shin and Jackson, 2003).

Cultural identity thus has been explained as a certain facet of identity, has been categorized as a social framework that impacts how individuals act and interact (Shin, Jackson, 2003, 212). The identity of individuals can be brought together under three classifications which are human, social and individual. The identity of humans relate to the way individuals perceive themselves and the people around them whereas social identity reflects the share notions about groups. Lastly, the individual identity talks about the distinctiveness of an individual that sets him apart from others (Gudykunst, Kim, 1997) (Hall, 1989).

Individuals also convey a local, district wide or country wide identity that identifies three separate but simultaneously occurring identities along with identities that are related to a certain social class, religion, profession or education (Straubhaar, 2008). These facts of individual perception interrelate with each other and exist at a certain balancing point. They gain significance and thus foster in certain settings with few of them being emphasized while the rest is neglected.

The respective characteristics of a group interaction framework, premised on common meanings, signs and notions that come about in a certain setting have been referred to as the cultural identity (Collier, 1997, 39). Kim Y.Y., (2007a, 238), meanwhile considered it a sociological or a demographic categorization along with a personal mental affiliation of the self with a certain group. Ojha (2003, 169) considered the concept as coming from a certain cultural or ethnic group.

Despite knowing about the various facets of cultural identity, most of the studiers and researchers usually take cultural identity in connection to a certain ethnic group while carrying out their study (Hatcher, 2001; Ojha, 2003; Aldridge, 2004; Urban, Orbe, 2007) (Hall, 1989). Many of the researchers coincide on the point that the concept of cultural identity is connected to four primary theories (Gudykunst, Lee, Nishida, Ogawa, 2005; Kim Y.Y., 2007a, 2007b). The four theories are the cultural identity theory (CIT) that also goes by the name of the identity management theory, interpretive cultural identity theory, the communication theory of identity and the identity negotiation theory (Hall, 1989).


Andrejs, C. And Iveta, R. (2009). Managing the Culture of Diversity: National and Cultural Identities as the basis of Sustained Competitive Advantages in Globalised…

Cite This Article:

"Culture And Identity The Combined" (2011, January 05) Retrieved January 20, 2017, from

"Culture And Identity The Combined" 05 January 2011. Web.20 January. 2017. <>

"Culture And Identity The Combined", 05 January 2011, Accessed.20 January. 2017,