Cultural Sharing and Cultural Diversity.


In the ethnological and anthropological literature there are many good ethnographic studies of entities like local communities, class cultures, ethnic groups, particular institutions or age groups. But these studies are seldom anchored in a systematic theory of the total socio-cultural order. What we need are good models of the interrelations between specific forms of life. Based on several stints of fieldwork among different groups of urban working-class families in Norway, this paper attempts to make a systematic argument for the analysis of overarching cultural categories and their interrelations. Such overarching categories help organize, justify and legitimate the social, economic and cultural diversity that may be observed in daily life. More generally the problem under consideration concerns the relationship between contextualized ethnography and interpretations of comprehensive frameworks of implicit meanings in a modern large scale society. It is argued in the paper that this problem should not be phrased as a question of "generalization" of qualitative analysis. Such a phrasing very quickly leads to questions of samplingmand boundaries which make anthropologists and European ethnologists look like bad survey sociologists. Instead the problem is rephrased as one of the "range”, "extent", "era and area of relative power" of our interpretations.

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Gullestad, M., (1990) “Cultural Sharing and Cultural Diversity.”, Ethnologia Europaea 21(1), 87-96. doi:


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Marianne Gullestad (University of Trondheim)



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