Encyclopediaof—isms

Culture

Culture is the activity of giving meaning to objects, events and people. This activity depends on the participants of this culture.

Culture as a signifying practice: to share meaning

In the introduction to ‘Representation. Cultural representations and signifying practices’, Stuart Hall explores the different meanings of culture from different professional and scientific contexts. The definition that defines it the most accurate for this design research comes from the perspective of the anthropology and sociology. ‘Culture’ here is defined as whatever is distinctive about the ‘way of life’ of a people, community, nation or social group. (Hall, 2003, p.2) and as “a word that can be used to describe the ‘shared values’ of a group or of society” (Hall, 2003, p.2).

But more crucial for this design research, Hall emphasizes the importance of making meaning to the definition of culture. “Culture […] is not so much a set of things […] as a process, a set of practices” (Hall, 2003, p.2). With this Hall means that it is concerned with the production and exchange of meaning between members of a society or group. Culture is therefore an activity of giving meaning to objects, events and people, that depends on the participants of this culture. He argues that the participant should be part of this activity to give a meaningful interpretation of this culture.