Cultural Encounters: A Final Word
The notion of “culture” must surely stand as one of the most controversial, most difficult to define concepts in academia. Such are the problems that one is tempted to evade the concept altogether. And if one is brave enough to pursue the concept, there lingers the suspicion that the concept is fatally flawed. Consider, for example, Sarangi’s (2009, 87) point, as noted in the introduction to this volume, that “any definition of culture is necessarily reductionist.” That raises the issue of whether it is worthwhile pursing research that has such a reductionist category as culture at its heart. In fact, in my view any kind of research that involves analysis is – perhaps by definition – reductionist. Analysis involves reducing phenomena to analytical categories by identifying commonalities amongst them. Perhaps the point here is that culture as a category it particularly reductionist. However, even that rather depends on how one defines culture and operationalizes it. This is where it is particularly instructive to consider how the papers in this volume have handled this issue.
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