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3. The concept of culture

The first important concept is that of culture. We always use it, but maybe we do not reflect enough on its meaning. There are of course various approaches regarding culture. It is good to remember that the consciousness of CULTURE is quite a new phenomenon, and it came with the emergent experiences about OTHER cultures. As Baecker (1997) notes the using of the term expresses the reflection that we are aware of otherness.
What is culture? In general it could mean: Something created by human beings as a concept of culture.
We can accept this interpretation as a very wide definition, but there are still many different interpretations:

  • Expression of human creativity (art is emphasized)

  • The evolution of human beings (cultivation)

  • A kind of software: behavioural factors emphasized: costumes, norms, behavioural codes etc.

  • Superstructure based on economic-social or religious factors (Marxian thinkers, ad. es.: R. Williams

  • Part of human production, related to power (cultural capital of Bourdieu, Gramsci’s term of hegemony)

The differences noticeable in the contributions of the different teams in our TICKLE group are due to the different contexts as for the intercultural situation as for the scientific traditions living at the different institutions.

Our common points are the following:

  • we see that culture, as an important factor, should be more considered by educators, educational theory and practice

  • in the meantime we don’t want to emphasize too much the cultural factors and the role of culture in people’s life, at least not as a fixed factor (of interpretation), because we are aware that economic, social dimensions are still very important for the different minorities and in intercultural situations, and educators don’t meet cultures directly, but children, parents etc. as individuals, and we should not be too fast to interpret culturally their behaviour and representation.

  • we see culture as a kind of process, not as a fixed entity, we see its deeply variegated nature: culture means difference

  • we are aware that there are hidden elements in every culture (see the iceberg meta-phor), so reflection is important

  • we see culture as related to power

  • we see culture as a dimension of all human beings that can be represented in mean-ingful narrations (interpretations)

In addition, as educationalists we see culture from an educational point of view at almost three levels:

  • education is „culturalization”: making and developing a human being

  • education is part of culture, it is cultural itself

  • we have the point of view of human development, it means that we do not only inter-pret and define culture, but we want to use it in a certain way to help the construction of a person.