There are many ways to define culture. Watch this video and then go on reading the text.

To define the concept of culture is not an easy task. There are countless definitions, each focusing on different points of view. 

For example, according to certain definitions, culture can refer to all products, creations, inventions and services that are created by artists, workers, scientists and can be used, consumed, purchased, and sold. Therefore, when we talk about “cultural products” we should include books, films, music, but also technology, materials, discoveries etc. If you like this definition of culture, probably you might have associated it with the first clip, which shows a construction site.

However, the concept of culture is very wide and can include more items, like for example intangible elements: languages, traditions, religions, philosophical theories, lifestyles etc. These elements are the results of interaction, a very dynamic and ever-changing process which has always characterised human history and has become global thanks to the  development in the field of mobility and communication. If you like this definition, you might have probably chosen the second clip (a crowded street). 

We can merge the two interpretations of culture mentioned above and propose a third, more complete definition, which matches with the images conveyed in the third clip: a river. 

The following words by Swedish anthropologist Ulf Hannerz help clarify the metaphor: 

“And from far away, a river may look like a blue (or green or brown) line across the landscape; it has some kind of magnificent permanence. But at the same time ‘you can’t step into the same river twice’ because it moves all the time and only this way achieves permanence. The same applies to culture – even though you observe a structure, it is completely dependent on an ongoing process” (Hannerz, 1992)

From this perspective, culture is not a permanent and never-changing structure, but it can be defined as a process or as a flow. We prefer using this concept, as it respects the diversity we meet in our cross-cultural projects, and it encourages people to open themselves to other realities, without imposing beliefs, approaches or attitudes.