Mark Blasini

Thoughts & Outlooks

Toolbox theory of culture


Every person seeks to express him or herself in some way. Whether it’s through the clothes one wears, the beliefs one shares, the way one acts, the foods one eats, or the music one listens to – everyone strives to articulate some underlying desire or need that defines him or her.

In this way, culture is not simply a uniform collection of beliefs, values, practices, and customs accepted by a certain group of people. Rather, culture is a heterogeneous body of expressions (i.e. beliefs, values, practices, traditions, etc.) that individuals can use to express themselves.

Thus, culture can be seen as a kind of toolbox. It provides an individual with an assortment of tools that allow him or her either to reaffirm a traditional mode of self-expression, or create new forms of self-expression (i.e. new beliefs, practices, customs, etc.).

Either way, culture does not determine in what way an individual expresses him or herself; it simply allows the individual to do so in certain ways.