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Pool of abundance: Understanding culture

Course video 23 of 40

This week begins with a discussion of culture and its relevance when individuals become mobile, moving between geographical and social contexts. We look at a case study of a student from the United Kingdom who comes to Johannesburg, South Africa. The case study helps us to think about who owns culture and how different or similar we are across contexts. Next, we consider Thornton’s arguments about culture. He argues against the view that there are many cultures and notes that there is only culture. Thornton considers culture as a resource to which people have different degrees of access. Some examples of cultural resources are clothes, money, beliefs, ideas. Individuals draw on these to construct their identity, but unequal access to these resources that are valued gives some people more possibilities to construct identities that are dominant and more valued. This creates a semblance of difference between groups of people. As people move across borders, these differences may become heightened, because some of the cultural resources that an individual carries with her, may cease to be relevant or may be seen as threatening. So, when supporting one’s argument about what happens to identity as individuals move across borders, it is important to delve into culture and how culture creates differences, how it may accentuate boundaries, and how these may or may not impact on identity. Writing paragraphs in support of one’s argument requires close attention to how the paragraphs link with the position, and with other ideas across the paragraphs. Hence, we offer practical guidelines on paragraphing, coherence and cohesion. We give an example of a well-written paragraph and analyse its form to see why it is good. We then review paragraphs submitted by our three student writers and note what is strong and what could be improved in each. We introduce the core aspects of referencing in essays. We also explain why referencing is an important part of academic writing when we are referring to different people’s views (or voices) and distinguishing these from our own.

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