Culture has been a great part of our diverse world.
Culture has helped us understand why people behave in certain ways. Culture is used as a link to understanding many questions of peoples actions. In light of many debates of culture used as political controversy the question, “who owns native culture? ” is brought up to the forefront. In the usual political arena, culture is used as an identity for a political claims. American politics tolerates and encourages differences so this may pose a big problem. Culture can make people separate as if they lived in a different world. Many people forget the interrelatedness and differences of culture.
Benhabib views social constructionism as the view of our world through our own perspective. A culture is a potential source of power and control. The definition of culture is a combination of many different narratives. A classic example is the control in the colonial situation that consisted of laws to govern people. Colonial authorities help to create an ‘Indian culture’. Indian culture is like mosaic pieces.
Benhabib defines it as, “the view that human groups and cultures are clearly delineated and identifiable entities that coexist, while maintaining firm boundaries, as would pieces of a mosaic.” (Benhabib 8) Culture is defined in contrast to yours. We define culture with counter distinction to ourselves. The colonial rule over what ‘Indian culture’ is an example of this phenomenon. Benhabib and Brown both have similar views to the answer of the question, ‘who owns native culture? ‘ They both emphasize the fluidity of culture. They do this by recognizing the individual without dismissing the group. Culture is always changing and has many varieties. They try to reason a dialogue that recognizes individuality and not with artificial categories.
Reification, making an abstract concept concrete, is an important aspect to remember. Benhabib and Brown warn us of this reification of culture in the emphasis on the fluidity of culture. They also emphasize that there is no longer a culture in the world that has not contacted with others.
It shows us that when we exaggerate differences we dismiss the idea of interrelatedness of culture. Brown states, “I wish simply to point out the risks of taking too rigid a view of cultural ownership, especially when technological and social changes are making cultural boundaries ever harder to identify.” ( Brown 251-252) Benhabib uses the critiques Universalism, relativism, recognition, and redistribution. These are philosophical grounds to have a deeper appreciation of Brown. Universalism and relativism are tools to make judgments about policy with claims of culture. Universalism is a basic transcending value that applies to everybody.
It is very hard to identify and suggest a stark difference between universal values and many different places. The problem with universalism is that it dismisses cultural differences too quickly and lock culture within artificial contact points.Cultural relativism is the idea that if a place is doing it then it is okay. It is essentially opposite of Universalism. Relativism emphasizes the differences between cultures and therefore reduces concern with the individual and focuses solely on the culture.
The ideas of Universalism and Relativism can help us understand the constrictiveness of each concept, which in turn can help us understand culture. Redistribution and Recognition can also help us understand culture claims. Redistribution is the idea of moving resources to people who did not receive it. Recognition is giving someone something because of who they are.