An Examination of Culture
An Introductory Exercise for 12th
Grade English
 What comes to mind when you hear
this word?
 What is culture?
 What makes up your culture?
Culture (Merriam Webster Online)
 the integrated pattern of human
knowledge, belief, and behavior that
depends upon the capacity for learning
and transmitting knowledge to
succeeding generations
 the customary beliefs, social forms,
and material traits of a racial, religious,
or social group
 the characteristic features of everyday
existence (as in diversions or a way of
life) shared by people in a place or time
 examples: popular culture, southern
culture, hip-hop culture
 the set of shared attitudes, values,
goals, and practices that characterizes
an institution or organization
 the set of values, conventions, or social
practices associated with a particular
field, activity, or societal characteristic
 Consider all of the dimensions or
aspects of culture that exist.
 What are some of the dimensions that
make up a culture?
Levels of Culture
 Hidalgo, N. 1993. Multicultural teacher
introspection. In Perry, T. and Fraser,
J. (Eds.) Freedom's Plow: Teaching in
the Multicultural Classroom. New York:
The Concrete:
 The most visible and tangible level of
 Includes dimensions such as: clothes,
music, food, games, etc.
The Behavioral:
 How we define our social roles, the language
we speak, and our approaches to nonverbal
 The behavioral level REFLECTS our values.
 Aspects include the following:
language, gender roles, family structure,
political affiliation, and other items that
situation us organizationally in society.
The Symbolic
 Includes our values and beliefs.
 Can be abstract.
 Aspects include:
values systems, customs, spirituality,
religion, worldview, beliefs, mores, etc.
 Categorize the dimensions according
to Hildalgo’s three levels.
 Some overlap may occur.
Examine the levels
 Which of the three levels would you
say best defines your culture?
 Why? What makes that level more
important than others?
 When you meet someone, which
aspects of culture do you use to
understand them culturally?
 Is your attempt to understand others
culturally consistent with how you wish
to be viewed and understood?
 What forces in our society might
contribute to our simplification of the
culture of others, even though we do
not wish to be defined in simple terms
 Fear of “the other”
 Fear and hatred of strangers or
foreigners or of anything that is strange
or foreign
• characterized by or based on the
attitude that one's own group is
• The belief that your culture is superior
to others
World Literature
 How can the literature of cultures
around the world help us to live in a
world where cultural boundaries are
blurring more and more each day?