In class on Tuesday Ryan Bolger introduced the idea of practices: the bundles of routinized human activities (doings and sayings) infused and bound by shared, often implicit, practical understanding (embodied skills, knowledge, know-how, presuppositions, background knowledge, emotions, and intention). Basically, they’re the little mini-cultures that, when combined, make up a broader culture. People can have overlapping practices with each other and still have things that make them each unique. One can cook and play golf while the other plays golf and works in a corporate environment. Their golfing culture would have similar realities, understandings and lingo in which they could relate. The corporate and cooking spheres would have less in common.
In looking at any group, there are certain cultural practices that tie the groups together. We learn the rules as we participate in those activities as an insider. Outsiders can only really learn by hanging around.
One simple, first step of application (there are many more) of this idea is this: if a Christian wants to impact culture in a healthy way, the first step is to figure out what mini-cultures he or she is already a part of and work within those. If she is called to a certain culture, she’s got to dive into the culture to understand it. Christians often try to influence culture from the outside. From the outside, it’s easy to misjudge the lingo, norms and values of a group.
I’m looking forward to discussing this topic more. There are so many areas where these ideas could be applied….