On Cultural Conceptualisations

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture


This paper first elaborates on the notions of conceptualisation and cultural conceptualisations. Cultural conceptualisations enable the members of a cultural group to think, so to speak, in one mind. These conceptualisations are not equally imprinted in the minds of people but are rather represented in a distributed fashion across the minds in a cultural group. Two major kinds of cultural conceptualisations are cultural schemas and cultural categories. These group-level conceptualisations emerge from and act as the locus for the interactions between people from the same cultural background. The members negotiate and renegotiate these conceptualisations across generations. The paper employs the notion of 'distributed representation' in presenting a model of cultural conceptualisations. It then provides examples of such conceptualisations and discusses how they may be instantiated in various artefacts, such as discourse. The paper also proposes a general framework for the identification of cultural conceptualisations, based on the adoption of an ethnographic approach towards the analysis of discourse. Examples from Australian Aboriginal cultural conceptualisations are provided throughout the paper.

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