Conscious Culture

Lesson 1: Topic 13 of 25

Above the waterline, we have Conscious Culture. This is where the markers of culture are most readily visible. Material culture and behaviors show us what members of a culture use or make, and what they do. While we can see the objects and actions, we do not necessarily understand their full significance. The behaviors above the surface are objective, specifically learned, and relatively easy to change. Jemal’s mom taught him to tie his shoes, which he vaguely remembers and so knows that he learned. If he chooses to, Jemal could learn a different method of tying shoes. 

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In a similar way, Lin was taught some cooking skills by her Chinese grandmother. She learned to roast a chicken and steam dumplings. But if she wanted, Lin could learn to create a fine Indian curry with naan from someone else. Both of these examples show us specifically learned skills that are a part of culture.