About the Culture category

In the humanities, ‘culture’ centers on expressive works, almost always from an ethnocentric point of view. The anthropological concept includes any “socially inherited element in the life of man, material and spiritual”,[1] and draws insight especially from “the trivial details of daily intercourse”.[2] Culture has been described by anthropologists as a frame of reference that people use to understand each other, [4] including language, values, and rules that set the limits for behavior and provide definitions of reality, held in common by people who share a distinctive way of life.[3] In recent decades the concept has been clouded by political ramifications of colonialism, expropriation, and indigenous revitalization adapted from what is considered authentic culture by ethographers.[5]

PCT investigates culture as collectively controlled perceptual variables, among them use of “trivial” variables such as the manner of speaking or gesturing as assurances of in-group reliability and as shibboleths to distinguish in-group members vs. outsiders.

  1. Sapir, Edward (1924/1949). Culture, Genuine and Spurious. In Selected Writings of Edward Sapir in Language, Culture, and Personality. D. G. Mandelbaum, ed. Pp. 308–331 (p. 309). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  2. Benedict, Ruth (1946/1974). The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture. New York: New American Library (p. 11).
  3. Kluckhohn, Carl (1962). Culture and Behavior. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
  4. Hall, Edward T. (1959). The Silent Language. Doubleday, New York.
  5. Rosenblatt, Daniel (1974). An Anthropology Made Safe for Culture: Patterns of Practice and the Politics of Difference in Ruth Benedict. American Anthropologist 106.3:459–472.