Written by Avruch Kevin and published in 2002, the article, “Culture and Conflict Resolution” presents diverse views about culture. Culture is a complex concept that calls for an extensive scrutiny. The author studies various literatures in his bid to unravel the complexity of culture. This paper summarizes the article by evaluating the main issues addressed in it ranging from the complexity of culture to the underlying misconceptions that people have about culture.
Complexity of culture
Different understandings of the word culture exist resulting mainly from the diverse ideas about the concept. Culture is a complicated word having more than one hundred meanings. These multiple meanings of culture result to the derivation of the evident inadequate ideas of the concept. These misconceptions have diverse repercussions on how people understand the concept of culture. By exploring different misconceptions, as laid down tin this article, it will be evident that many of us perceive culture as a simple phenomenon, which is not the case, as culture entails many concepts that we overlook due to various inadequate ideas that people possess regarding the concept.
Misconceptions about culture
The idea of considering that culture as distributed in a uniform manner amongst members of a certain group makes the concept diminish its complexity. The claim follows because the idea ignores the concept of intercultural variations. In connection to this, idea that every individual possesses only one culture further aggravates this matter, for instance, stipulating that an individual is simply an American, African or Asian. Referring to culture as synonymous with each group’s identity is a tremendous misconception. This misconception originated from diverse social settings through which people perceived culture to be a small-scale concept and an ethnic or tribal group that is undifferentiated (Kevin 2002, 7). The idea of national culture resulted from political scientists as they tried to identify people from different nations into a single culture.
The idea that culture is a homogenous concept presumes that culture is free of contradictions hence providing clear instructions on personal behavior, which is easy to exercise. Another inadequate idea that arises is that culture is just a thing. In this regard, culture can independently act without interference from human actors. This overlooks the intercultural diversity presented by culture.
In addition, the idea that culture is a custom is inadequate as it makes this concept a straightforward concept. This idea perceives culture as determined by what one sees. From this idea, culture stands out as synonymous with traditions and customary practices and behaviors of a certain group. In this regard, culture is an etiquette observed by a certain society. This downplays the individual agency. From this view, culture presents no struggle except for dissidents who cannot abide by the customary believes, behaviors, and practices. Moreover, the inadequate idea the culture is a timeless endeavor is a monumental mistake. This misconception presents no challenge to the quality and uniqueness of culture, more so the traditional cultures.
This reading expounds clearly on the complexity of culture. Utilizing the different inadequate ideas about culture, as stipulated in this paper, diminishes the essence of the concept of culture, as an effective analytical tool that aids in comprehending social action in the society. These inadequacies remove the complex nature of culture making culture seem stable, more homogenous, and superficial concept. Understanding these misconceptions aids us in thinking clearly about the culture concept. Adoption of a proper definition of culture will go a long way in addressing these misconceptions. As it is evident from the laid expositions, culture is a complex concept with many meanings.
Kevin, Avruch G. 2002. Culture and Conflict Resolution. Washington: United States Institute of Peace Press.