A Sense of Culture

Our notion of culture seems tied to geography: a distinction that may be losing it’s relevance in the Social Age. For fun, today i’ve been sketching out a model of waves of culture, overlapping but distinct ways in which we may belong to multiple, differentiated cultures that fulfil different needs, and how our primary alignment may no longer be that which we were born into or live within.

A Sense of Culture

A culture can be define by and cohesive through location: i am English and so, by default, my culture is English. Indeed, under the co-creative model of culture that i advocate, if my behaviour changes, in some small way it distorts English culture. The primary alignment is the one we are born into, defined by geography.

But we have secondary alignments to different communities and, possibly, we belong to, or are shaped by, or shape, multiple cultures. The secondary alignment may be cohesive through our actions: because it’s not geographic, we are not simply a member by living there: these cultures are maybe based around our passions, our interests, often facilitated by social collaborative technologies and lived within our communities. I’d advocate that, over time, these may indeed become our primary alignment.

Maybe there are also secret alignments: cultures that are cohesive through intent. Disruptive or aspirational ones. Maybe cultures of change which require risk to join?

There is a difference between ‘culture‘ and ‘community‘: the community is the defined total of individuals, united by shared value and purpose, and the culture is the meta narrative of beliefs and values written on top of that. You cannot have a culture without a community: without it, it simply becomes a fossil, the documented record of a culture that was.

This works on the premise that we can belong to multiple communities, each of which has their own culture: what i’m really interested in is how we define primary alignment. Is it always geographic, or can it be something else? Is it always imposed, or is it increasingly a lifestyle or work choice?

Notions that seem fixed can become fluid in the Social Age: maybe culture is one of them. Maybe we are swept away in multiple cultures, any one of which we may choose as our own.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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8 Responses to A Sense of Culture

  1. Hi Julian, I really enjoy reading your posts, they’re on the button and show me that there is a wide constellation of people out there facing similar issues and are trying to make sense of and positively energising them. I was at a conference recently when a plenary speaker described identity as a place of conflict and tension because, as you say, we are realising now just how many identities and cultures we navigate through and around on a daily basis. Mother tongue, second language, ancient and new, indigenous, migrant, foreign and local, southern and northern hemispheres, time-zones, island and mainland, city, country, family, friends, communities, groups, tribes, pairs, hierarchies…endless isn’t it?

    As for geography, where I physically am hardly seems to matter now professionally. You know, at a sub-atomic level, no one can actually pin point where we physically are in time or space. Now there’s a thought. I love this present age for that, and for having more contact with more people, engaging in meaningful and enriching conversations. Thanks. Keep doing what you do.

    • julianstodd says:

      Thank you for your kind words Emma, it’s a fascinating time, as we inhabit so many spaces, so many communities, using different identities. I enjoyed your blog by the way: great art! Best wishes, Julian

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