How Culture Works

Three kids dressed in zombie costumes posing for the camera.

Children pose at the annual zombie chase in Jacksonville, Florida. As a final project, students complete an ethnographic study on Halloween. (Flickr. Richard Abrahamson. CC-BY.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2012



Cite This Course

Course Description

This course introduces diverse meanings and uses of the concept of culture with historical and contemporary examples from scholarship and popular media around the globe. It includes first-hand observations, synthesized histories and ethnographies, and visual and narrated representations of human experiences. Students conduct empirical research on cultural differences through the systematic observation of human interaction, employ methods of interpretative analysis, and practice convincing others of the accuracy of their findings.

Manduhai Buyandelger. 21A.01 How Culture Works, Fall 2012. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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