Making Sense of Culture - A 2nd Year Visual Literacy Oral Presentation

Essay by grapey666University, Bachelor'sA, September 2004

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My topic of discussion is titled 'Making Sense of Culture', so it would only be pertinent that I should begin by attempting to define the term 'culture'.

There are many different and often divergent interpretations of this term, making it extremely difficult to come to an exact definition. It is an ambiguous concept, which has attained a great deal of contradictory meanings over the years.

It can be defined as anything from the "cultivation of civilisations", "human faculties or manners", "the improvement of the intellect by means of education", to the "cultivation of plants or animals".

As you can hear, these are invariably broad and quite long-winded definitions.

Simply stated, culture can be defined as "everything that occurs in a society, that is, all the customs, beliefs, values, norms, ideas and practices, as well as the material artefacts, objects and instruments handed down from one generation to another".

Culture is not homogenous nor is it static.

It cannot be defined or described as an unchanging aspect of human experience, simply because the world simply does not work that way.

We are living in what has been coined a 'global village', where "one listens to reggae, watches a Western, eats McDonald's food for lunch and local cuisine for dinner, wears Paris perfume in Tokyo and "retro" clothes in Hong Kong".

As with most other things, culture changes and evolves as the historical, economic, political and social beliefs, values and circumstances of groups and individuals change.

Our common cultures, the experiences we share, often become the dominant cultures to which we subscribe.

Culture is not a neutral concept, however, and struggles between different groups in society often emerge from conflicting ideological positions and the values attached to these. In order for this to make more sense, it is necessary for me to...