Assignment 1: Encountering Culture (Initial Thoughts)

Assignment Outline:

A portfolio of photographic work supported by an individual workbook (75% of the final grade). We all see the world from an entirely different socio/sexual/geographic/culturally-unique perspective which in turn will dictate what and how we communicate as photographic artists. This assignment addresses the notion directly by asking;

“Are you in harmony or in conflict within the social structure that you are part of?”

Through a set of 10 photographic pieces you should examine the sources of pressures within society to conform or adjust our behaviour and appearance. Your images can depict the mundane nature  and the theatricality of everyday life.


Before researching into possible themes I wanted to get a better understanding of what culture and social structure really meant. This would give me a better understanding of the task as a whole and give my research a direction.

I found the phrase ‘social structure’ intriguing and I wanted to find out exactly what this meant and perhaps how it is possible to be in conflict with it and what are the effects of this. Social structure in short can be defined as the relationship between different entities or groups and the patterns of social arrangement in a society. The theory behind this is that these social arrangements determine the actions of the individuals within the society. It began to make me question whether the norms of a society shape the behaviour of an individual and what happens when people begin to break away from these norms. By breaking away from the norms of the society does the individual have more freedoms or do they become outcast? Can there be positives and negatives from not being in harmony with the society in which you live in?

I then went onto try and define culture, however during my research I found it difficult to simply find one definition, thus showing how diverse culture in itself is. To me it raised the questions of ‘Can you really be defined by your culture?’ and ‘Can the culture you live in be defined solely as the one element?’

Below are the definitions I found:

  • The totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought
  • Intellectual and artistic activity and the works produced by it
  • the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action

Now that I have a better understanding of the question and theme I am being asked to explore, I can begin to think of initial ideas and social and cultural issues I want to explore further.  I will discuss this further in my next post.

Definitions taken from:


Published by

Charlotte Pattinson

Photography student

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