culture Essay

Goody, Jack. 1994. Culture and Its Boundaries: A European View.

Assessing Cultural Anthropology. Borofsky, Robert, ed. Pp.250-261. McGraw-Hill, Inc.

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In the beginning of the article Goody talks about the definition of culture and how it is used. Culture is a difficult word to define. It has many different meanings to many different people. Goody discusses the two ways that social scientists use the word culture. They use “culture” as learned behavior that sets us apart from other species and “a culture” which is a group of people who share the same learned behavior.

I like Geertz’s definition of culture, “the framework of beliefs, expressive symbols, and values in terms of which individuals define their feelings, and make their judgments (Geertz 1957:33).”(Goody 250). This definition encompasses much of what, I think, most people would describe as what their “culture” is.Goody states that Europeans do not separate the definitions of culture and society; that they are one in the same. I agree with this idea because to me “a society” and “a culture” constitutes the same group of people who have the same values, beliefs, etc.

It is difficult to differentiate the social from the cultural because one is derived from the other. The aspects of social interaction in the broader definitions of culture blend the two together. If you could subdivide the word culture social interaction would be below culture along with many other terms, thus in the Western mind the words culture and social cannot be separated.

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