How to define Culture?

There are many definitions of culture and these definitions tend to vary based on the perspective and approach of the person or organization defining the term.  In an attempt to find an understandable and accurate definition that is appropriate for students, I searched the internet for various definitions from well known researches and authors in the field of cultural studies.  I found 10 viable definitions.  I took these 10 (often verbose) definitions and put them all together in a word cloud.  The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.   I wanted to see what the most common words were that came up in all of the definitions.  The word cloud produced a clear, concrete and easily understood definition.  Based on the word cloud, this is the definition that stands out.

Culture: Shared patterns of learned behavior.

How to define Culture? (French, Spanish)

I’ve received a few requests for a download of this graphic.  You can download a pdf here.

4 responses to “How to define Culture?

  1. Jenny

    Is there a way to get a copy of this definition and word cloud?

    • jos76


      I have received a few requests for this, so I created a pdf and uploaded it to the blog post. You can download it directly from there. Thank you. –Joshua

  2. Elaine Leibly

    Hi Joshua. I am currently taking a class called Language, Culture, and Identity as part of my Master’s program in Applied Linguistics at UMass Boston. Do you mind if I share your world cloud and definition with my class? In fact, is there a way that you can share a pdf or other version of this? I really find it powerful. Thank you.

    • jos76


      Here is a “small world” moment. I am an incredibly proud alum of the UMass Boston Apling program. I completed the program in 2007. Corinne Étienne was my advisor She was also the instructor for several courses on teaching culture that I took while in the program. A lot of my understanding and interest in the topic is rooted the work I did in this wonderful program. I also worked with Panayota quite a bit. I have received a few requests for a pdf of this graphic in this post, so I created a pdf and uploaded it to the blog post. You can download it directly from there. So great to connect with another UMass Boston Aplinger. Best of the luck with the program. Thank you. –Joshua

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