Friday, November 1, 2013
On Critical Culture Theory
On Critical Culture Theory: Before diving into cultural theory, it's important to offer a working definition of "culture." For historian Kristin Hoganson, culture is a common framework of methods and references to help one understand the human experience. To put it another way, culture consists of all the basic units that make up a community. A key feature of culture is language, which serves as the primary vehicle for communicating words/ideas (and their respective meanings). Take the above image, for example (semiotics). The line separating the written word "TREE" from a common symbol for a tree teaches us that there is no rational or inherent connection between words and symbols that represent them. It's only through experience that people build an understanding of written/spoken words and the descriptive symbols to which they refer. But aside from language, there are other key features of culture, including "memes" and "texts." Memes effectively transport the units of cultural life. Having emerged from Darwinian thought, memes are to culture what genes are to biology. Their sole purpose is to replicate, especially by capturing the attention of a wide audience. With cultural texts, however, they can be anything that demands meaning from you (a book, a song, a film, a painting, etc.) In short, both memes and texts seek legitimacy by impacting culture at large.