What Is Culture?

As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.

- Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa

Podcast of the Day

Cultural Studies sometimes gets a bad press. In this episode of the Social Science Bites podcast Toby Miller, author and editor of over 30 books on interdisciplinary topics within the Social Sciences, discusses cultural studies in relation to his work on the Hollywood film industry and addresses wider questions about objectivity and bias.

Listen to Toby Miller on Cultural Studies

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Short Article of the Day

...At the time, many academics still considered the serious study of popular culture beneath them; a much starker division existed, then, between what Hall termed the “authenticated, validated” tastes of the upper classes and the unrefined culture of the masses. But Hall did not regard this hierarchy as useful. Culture, he argued, does not consist of what the educated élites happen to fancy, such as classical music or the fine arts. It is, simply, “experience lived, experience interpreted, experience defined.” And it can tell us things about the world, he believed, that more traditional studies of politics or economics alone could not...

Continue reading Hua Hsu's article: Stuart Hall and the Rise of Cultural Studies

Further Reading

The meaning of the term “culture” has been highly contested, especially within anthropology (Kroeber and Kluckhohn 1952; Baldwin et al. 2006). The first highly influential definition came from Edward Tylor (1871, 1), who opens his seminal anthropology text with the stipulation that culture is, “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” Subsequent authors have worried that Tylor's definition packs in too much, lumping together psychological items (e.g., belief) with external items (e.g., art)...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Culture and Cognitive Science by Jesse Prinz

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