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 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.
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.