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Culture and Communication (1)

a. The first definition of culture is the most common view that people are used to (at least in Western Europe and the US); it is something that either people have or they don't. In anthropology this use of the word culture refers to the presence of a "high culture" and is therefore elitist. It implies an appreciation of a certain aesthetic niveau, a specialization of the sphere of culture, which is separate from other spheres such as politics and economics.

b. The second direction of definitions arose historically out of cultural anthropology. Such definitions either comprise long lists of contents or aspects of culture such as habits, traditions, law, morals, norms, rituals, etc., or they are referred to as patterns of behavior which are learned or acquired in our socialization. Sometimes the term "system" appears in the definitions, sometimes not. But normally the proponents of these definitions equate cultures with identifiable wholes which can be described and compared systematically. This has nearly always been tacitly assumed and not questioned.

c. In the last 35 years that has changed. The charge of reification and reduction has reverberated many times from the side of the critics. Take the words of the cultural anthropologist, Clifford Geertz (1973: 11)