Michigan Education Association

Defining culture

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) provides information about cultural competence and related matters, including the following perspective of culture from John H. Bodley, chair of the Department of Anthropology at Washington State University:

Topical:

Culture consists of everything on a list of topics, or categories, such as social organization, religion or economy.

Historical:

Culture is social heritage, or tradition, that is passed on to future generations.

Behavioral:

Culture is shared, learned human behavior, a way of life.

Normative:

Culture is ideals, values, or rules for living.

Functional:

Culture is the way humans solve problems of adapting to the environment or living together.

Mental:

Culture is a complex of ideas, or learned habits that inhibit impulses and distinguish people from animals.

Structural:

Culture consists of patterned and interrelated ideas, symbols, or behaviors.

Symbolic:

Culture is based on arbitrarily assigned meanings that are shared by a society.
For more information, visit NASP on the Web.

 

 

Updated: February 19, 2009 6:13 PM