We can easily associate the idea of culture with inherited artefacts, goods, technical processes, ideas, habits and values. But there are other possible approaches:

For Stuart Hall (Hall, 1997), culture is the production and exchange of meaning; the giving and taking of sense within the members of a community. Along side him, Clifort Geertz (Geertz, 1973: 27) defines culture as a system where there is interaction of interpretable symbols. So, two people come from the same culture as long as they interpret the world in a similar way, and they express themselves in a way intelligible to each other. This makes them share meanings and be mutually influenced in their behaviour.

To do this, members of the same culture have to put into practice a complex system of representations in order to share those concepts, images and ideas. That is to say, they need a language, and such a language succeeds in sharing those things because it is the central place where our ideas, thoughts and feelings are given meaning.

Accordingly, any community finds and constructs its own language to signify the things that make sense for it, words and images being vehicles for the expression of what is necessary for that culture to interchange and inter-relation.

Hence, it could also be considered that constructing words and images is in part creating or recreating the cultural reality for the group that is constructing them.


©Sebastian Guerrini, 2009