Dirk Van der Elst's "Culture as Given, Culture as Choice".

Essay by LeighDogg26University, Bachelor'sA, April 2003

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In this text, anthropologists Dirk Van Der Elst and Paul Bohanan discuss the concept of multiculturalism. The text states that an entirely different view of culture is needed in the intellectual discourse of society. Elst analyzes culture using the example of analyzing sex. Elst makes it clear in his analysis that pluralities of identity are the norm, that everyone is multi-ethnic and multi-racial in some fashion

Even when discussing the contemporary mainstream political debate over what constitutes 'multiculturalism,' it is common cultural phrasing to view culture as a stagnant unit. Multiculturalism is defined in this text as the manner in which more cultures are incorporated into the framework of the dominant discourse., rather than being a way of deconstructing notions of how culture itself is perceived and misperceived.. Elst suggests that nothing really exists as 'culture,' instead culture itself is a "constructed, socially produced norm."

After reading this book I got the feeling that the authors purpose was mainly to advise each individual to study and redefine his own culture.

So with that said, I dug down deep and asked myself, what does culture mean to me? And how does culture influence my person, political and social life? The book says that culture means "everything that human beings have created and transmitted socially across time and space (32)." He also states on page 33 that people are said to "carry" culture, to bear it from one person or generation to another." My parents passed their culture on to me, and I will do the same for my children. I was raised a Roman Catholic, and in my family, our heritage plays a huge part. My Irish culture gives me a sense of pride. My parents started...