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Concept of Culture and Perspective on Culture

In accordance with the expanded concept of culture, we understand cultures as living worlds that people have created and are constantly creating anew through their actions. These lifeworlds exist without standards of evaluation. They are not based on a selection of the beautiful, the good and the true, but encompass all expressions of life of those who have contributed and are contributing to their existence. This also includes religion, ethics, law, technology, educational systems and all other material and immaterial products. Likewise, they interact with processes of the natural environment.

Cultures are historically to a large extent the result of intercultural processes, which include in particular migratory movements, trade relations and colonisation. Consequently, there is a greater or lesser degree of overlap between cultures. Cultures are blurred at their edges, "fuzzy," and cannot be represented as homogeneous units in the sense of containers.

How cultures are perceived and described always depends on the point of view and the interests of the person describing them - among other things, also on how strongly he or she "zooms in" on the subject area. A close-up perspective will be able to provide much more detailed information, while a macro perspective is more for orientation, but can also be prone to stereotypes.

Cultures essentially represent products of millennia of communication processes. Normality, plausibility and meaningfulness are the crucial elements to be able to recognise a lifeworld as "one's own". They are permanently communicatively determined by the members of a culture. This can be done in a constant way by using what has already been communicated in an unchanged form, such as laws and interpretations of laws, manners, curricula or even technical tools. But it can also be done with intentions of change, by questioning what already exists, communicating new possible solutions, and thus contributing to at least minimal changes in what is "normal" or "plausible".

Intercultures are to be understood dynamically as meetings of members of different cultures. In this respect, they have a processual rather than a spatial character. Intercultures do not represent syntheses, but potentials for synergy. Whether and in what way synergies unfold is largely situation-dependent and thus unpredictable.