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A Blog About Culture

Recognition, Situation, Identity, Reality

First off, obviously I’m really not so fastidious about keeping up with any kind of online publication. My journal would agree. I really like the idea of a blog, though, and I’ve been reading the blogs of so many of my passionate and inspiring peers and colleagues that I thought I would try again to come up with a no-pressure way for me to talk about these things. Instead of rambling about cultural theory to strangers on the Metro (okay, I don’t do that, but I think my friend Sam might be getting tired of listening to me, and I did recently unleash a paragraph of theory onto my friend Jasmine after she merely mentioned a newspaper article to me), I figured I’d write down my thoughts somewhere. Here. They won’t be regular. They might not be coherent. They’ll probably be quite stupid, and if they are – you’re welcome to say so, but I’ll probably log off of my computer in a huff and tell all my friends you don’t know anything.

So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which people navigate all of their cultures. Does the decision-making process reflect a culture in itself? (In some cases, I’d say yes.) Does the consciousness or unconsciousness of that process reflect a culture? It is generally accepted that a lot of people perform different cultures, or aspects of themselves, based on their various situations. Of course, many of those overlap like bubbles on a Venn diagram, but what I am finding more intriguing in these questions is the slippery concept of Self outside of cultural performances. Some people cannot fully define themselves in words; they can only define themselves in what they’re not, during those times that they are recognizing that they don’t fully fit into their current environments or cultures.

Sometimes there’s a recognition of self in hypocrisy, in choosing cultural performances that aren’t full or honest expressions of self and internalizing, “This isn’t me. This is just something I’m doing.” To anyone else, though, that’s an expression, isn’t it? So much of what is culture? is really about what is expressed as culture… which lends an importance to what is perceived as culture. But half of me also thinks that culture exists in isolation. This is a tangent. What I want to be talking about is what is Self in relation to Culture?

For some people, Self and Culture are intertwined. Some people don’t think about culture at all, and the ways that they express themselves are how they express their cultures. Others, like myself, tend to be analytic and self-aware, and we think about these things. We think about the actions we take and why we do them and don’t do them and how we’re going to do them and what they all mean and what everything all means. But who we are are not necessarily what we do or the relations that those actions have to other people.

Part of culture is also expectation. People can have their own sets of expectations, albeit garnered from the cultures they’re members of, but they can make their own too. I’ve had the distinct feeling of being in the company of someone with a culture all to herself; when I’m with her, I’m in “her culture,” and find myself acting like her, or at least in complementary ways. How can we discuss this phenomenon as part of culture and personality?

Tonight my friend Sam asked me, “Do people have ‘personal’ cultures? … Are my lifestyle and choices my culture?”

I said, “On an individual level? I think that’s called a personality.”

  • How does a personality intersect with the concept of culture, especially inclusive cultures that allow variable differences in personality?
  • How would you answer Sam’s question?
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