Theories of culture: a fundamental question - Compositional approach: culture as a collection of things shared by a group of people

5 important questions on Theories of culture: a fundamental question - Compositional approach: culture as a collection of things shared by a group of people

What is the compositional approach?

To see culture as a whole, embodied in a number of things and shared by a group of people.

What is the essence the concept of communities of practice?

It is an all-encompassing grouping principle rather than a fixed group. It describes an aggregate of people who, united by common enterprises, develop and share ways of doing things, ways of talking, beliefs, and values - in short, practices. It is crucial for its members to have a shared domain of interest and engage in joint activities and practice. It can be of different sizes, it can have different structures.

What important implications do the different groups of people have for conceptualising culture?

  • cultural groups exist at many different levels, in different sizes and for different purposes
  • a cultural group can co-exist with another group (co-culture), be embedded in another culture (sub-culture) or overlap with another group
  • a person can belong to several different cultures at the same time
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What is the dialectical approach?

It is designed to reflect the processual, relational, and contradictory nature of intercultural communication. It offers a methodology to recognise the interdependent and complementary aspects of the seemingly opposite characteristics of culture.

What are the six dialects?

  1. cultural-individual: some behaviours are idiosyncratic and others reflect cultural trends
  2. personal-contextual: some aspects of communication remain relatively constant over a range of contexts, while others are context-dependent
  3. differences-similarities: group differences and similarity co-exist with each other
  4. static-dynamic: some aspects of culture remain relatively constant while others are subject to constant change
  5. present-future/history-past: the past is seen through the lens of the present and what happens currently cannot be fully understood without knowledge of what is in the past
  6. privilege-disadvantage: privileges can be disadvantages at the same time

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