Defining Culture Project: Call for Definitions

It’s been sixty years since Kroeber and Kluckhohn published their compendium of definitions of culture. I thought it might be fun to engage with this project again. So if you have a favorite definition of culture–either your own, or one that has been published since 1952, please share it with me. Please provide enough of a citation for quotes that are not your own that others may trace it, or say “(Mine)” if it’s yours.

You may send me a definition in any one of these ways:

1. Leave a comment on this post with your definition

2. Connect with me on Twitter (@anthrocharya). If your definition spills over into more than one tweet, please number them, e.g., 1/3, 2/3, etc., so I know.

3. Email me at anthrocharya[at]yahoo[dot]com.

If you’re an anthropologist, an ethnographer, or another scholar/professional who otherwise studies culture as part of your professional or academic activities, please place a capital “E” (for expert) at the end of your tweet, comment, or email. Students are welcome! Please provide citations.

I’ll make all the definitions available as best as I can, and try to analyze them thematically. I’m interested in what kinds of definitions of culture are out there, whether specific themes dominate these definitions, if definitional foci have shifted, and what the most common definitions are that people use, particularly in teaching and in popular media usages.

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a definition 🙂

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3 Responses to Defining Culture Project: Call for Definitions

  1. svenkate says:

    See Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s definition from Chapter 5: Culture: Situating Feminism in her new book “An Aesthetic Education in the era of Globalization” 2012, that I think apt for the times. I quote a paragraph here, .but the preceding and subsequent paragraphs are also useful.
    “Culture is a package of largely unacknowledged assumptions, loosely held by a loosely outlined group of people, mapping negotiations between the sacred and the profane, and the relationship between the sexes. On the level of these loosely held assumptions and presuppositions, change is incessant. But, as they change, these unwitting presuppositions become belief systems, organized suppositions. Rituals coalesce to match, support, and advance beliefs and suppositions. But these presuppositions also gives us the wherewithal to change our world, to innovate and create. Most people believe, even (or perhaps particularly) when they are being cultural relativists, that creation and innovation are their own cultural secret, whereas others are only determined by their cultures. Thus habit is unavoidable. But if we aspire to be citizens of the world, we must fight this habit” (pg.120).

  2. Pingback: Around the Web Digest | Savage Minds

  3. JTV says:

    Hi Lavanya

    Some good definitions of `culture’ here:

    Click to access global_pad_-_what_is_culture.pdf

    I prefer Csikszentmihalyi’s in `Creativity’ (1996).

    There is more about all that, on my research blog:


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