Skip to main content

The Fax, the Jazz Player, and the Self-Story Teller: How Do People Learn Culture?

Publisher: Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 26 (1)
Page Numbers: 3-26

Theories of how culture affects socialization and the formation of persons have long been of interest to anthropologists of education. In most of these theories, individuals are defined, categorized, shaped, or determined by social practices that reflect cultural priorities. Until recently, few educational anthropologists have given serious consideration to conceptualizing how individuals actively and inventively contribute to cultural continuity and change. Using data collected during an 18-month workplace ethnography, the author suggests that one means by which individuals actively organize culture is through the "stories of self" that they express or enact when they join new social settings. These stories are conceived as devices that mediate changing forms of individual participation (i.e., learning) in context. As such, stories of self contribute to identity formation and affect culture.