Cultural technique

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Cultural techniques are cultural and technical concepts for overcoming problems in different life situations. The cultural performance (shaping of the circumstances), the technical ability (use of technology) and the technique (object) are in a complex context.

Typical culture techniques are making fire , agriculture , to make art , calendar to use , based on maps mobile to be to do science, but also collaborative writing in social networks .

One or more prerequisites are required for this: proficiency in reading, writing and arithmetic, the ability to depict images, analytical skills, the application of cultural-historical knowledge or the networking of various methods. But: the development of cultural techniques is not a matter of individual achievements, but rather of group achievements that arise in a socio-cultural context. All of the above-mentioned prerequisites therefore always require social interaction and participation in society .

Historical development of the term

The neologism "cultural technology" emerged in the second half of the 19th century with the techniques of amelioration . He combines the Latin term cultura with the Greek term techné . Kultur, cultura , colere , means “cultivating fields”, “building” and “maintaining”. Techné refers to the arts as techniques and craft. When it came into being, the term cultural technology initially describes techniques of amelioration and leveling with which undeveloped, unused areas can be reclaimed , developed and cultivated. Cultural engineering was understood to mean “the teaching of all work related to soil culture, especially the practical art of surveying, hydraulic engineering and knowledge of agricultural machinery”.

Cultural technology research in cultural and media studies

The meaning of cultural techniques was expanded and transferred with the work in the DFG research group Bild-Schrift-Zahl at the Hermann von Helmholtz Center for Cultural Technology at the Humboldt University in Berlin and the International College for Cultural Technology Research and Media Philosophy at the Bauhaus University Weimar . In contrast to Marcel Mauss ' “Body Techniques”, it was transferred to the symbolic operations of writing, reading, calculating and composing. Art historian Horst Bredekamp and philosopher Sybille Krämer formulated cultural techniques are “operational procedures for dealing with images and things” . Against the background of digital media - the possibility of digitally emulating and modeling writing, speaking, painting and arithmetic - cultural scientist Thomas Macho emphasized : "Cultural techniques differ from all other techniques in their potential self-reference."

The redefinition of cultural techniques stood for a performative turn and an interdisciplinary opening within the humanities that emerged from a criticism of cultural anthropology .

Cultural technology as social interaction

Cultural techniques differ from many other technical, technological or cultural achievements through social interaction. The interactions form a complex process, the primary goal of which is to anchor and develop further within society, and consist of a multitude of group-dynamic processes that are mostly self-organized. The decisive factor here is the strong interest of one or more social groups in the anchoring or further development of the corresponding service. Such a process can be recognized, for example, in the cultural technique of writing skills.

Development of cultural technology

From the semiotics point of view, writing is a system of symbols with which spoken (or thought) words can be transferred to another medium . The more people master this system of symbols, the more it can be spread and used. However, a society also needs enough free resources (working hours, teachers ...) to teach enough people these symbols. It is also necessary that a society continuously provides these resources, otherwise the knowledge cannot be passed on.

For the cultural technique of writing, not only a system of symbols (letters) and technology (pens, paper ...) are necessary, but also social participation (spreading the mastery of writing, e.g. through compulsory schooling).

New social needs and developments for the dissemination of knowledge arose on the basis of writing skills. The invention of the printing press or the development of the mass media can be seen as examples . The development of book printing and mass media did not come about as a result of a “grand plan”, but rather as the result of a longer social process: In the history of the written media, there have been various approaches to disseminating knowledge based on script. The ideas that were most socially accepted have prevailed and developed. In the case of book printing, social acceptance (in Europe) arose through the dissemination of the Bible ; in the case of the mass media, it was the great interest in the population in information from politics and society, cf. Press history .

Cultural technology as a solution concept

Cultural techniques are complex solution concepts for different problems. These problems arise in a society through interaction with the environment. From the human needs, which are described, for example, in Maslow's hierarchy of needs , new, more complex problems develop.

Example 1 : The cultural technique of making fire includes:
  • the need for warmth, light and protection
  • knowledge of fuels and other physical requirements
  • the protection of fire
  • imparting knowledge about starting a fire and all the consequences (e.g. if the fire is lost)
Example 2 : The cultural technique of celebration includes:
  • the need for and the maintenance of pleasant social contacts
  • knowledge of rituals, dress codes , symbols and finances
  • knowledge of the consequences of partying (e.g. loss of control due to intoxicants)

Different culture techniques

Cultural techniques can be divided in different ways: according to classical and modern methods, in the narrower or broader sense, with an emphasis on elementary or abstract solution concepts. The following subdivision is a purely thematic list.

Food and shelter

  • Making fire, hunting, gathering, defense and martial arts
  • Food procurement, preparation, preservation, culinary arts
  • Living

Human body

Landscaping and Agriculture

Knowledge and communication


There are university courses for cultural engineering in the sense of an engineering environmental science at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna and at the University of Rostock . See under the course cultural engineering . There was a degree in cultural engineering at ETH Zurich until 2002.

Due to technical developments, new cultural techniques are constantly being added. Mastering these is an important part of school education. In the memorandum "Future of Education - School of the Future" of the Education Commission of North Rhine-Westphalia , it says: "The mastery of modern information and communication technologies will become a basic (fundamental) cultural technique, the value of which is equal to reading and writing."

Literature on cultural technology research

  • Daniel Gethmann, Susanne Hauser (Hrsg.): Cultural technique design. Practices, Concepts and Media in Architecture and Design Science. Transcript, Bielefeld 2009.
  • Sybille Krämer , Horst Bredekamp (Ed.): Image - Font - Number. Series culture technology, Volume 1, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2003. Sybille Krämer, Horst Bredekamp (Ed.): Image - font - number. Kulturtechnik series, Volume 1, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2003.
  • Thomas Macho : Second-order animals. Cultural techniques of identity. In: Heinrich Schmidinger, Clemens Sedmak (Ed.): The human being - an »animal symbolicum«? Language - dialogue - ritual. Topologies of the human. Volume IV, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2007, 51–66.
  • Harun Maye : What is a cultural technique? In: Journal for Media and Culture Research 1/2010. Pp. 121-135.
  • Bernhard Siegert : cultural technology. In: Introduction to Cultural Studies. Edited by Harun Maye, Leander Scholz . Fink, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-7705-4775-3 , pp. 95-118.

Web links

Wiktionary: Kulturtechnik  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Lower Saxony State Institute for School Quality Development, accessed on December 12, 2012 ( Memento of the original from August 15, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. a b c Meyer's Large Conversation Lexicon. Volume 11. Leipzig 1907, p. 793.
  3. ^ A b NRW Education Commission: "Future of Education - School of the Future", o. O 1995.
  4. Karl Georges: "colo" . In: Karl Georges (Ed.): Comprehensive Latin-German concise dictionary . 8th edition. tape 1 . Hanover 1913, p. 1278-1280 .
  5. Brockhaus: "Culture Technology" . In: Small conversation lexicon in two volumes . 5th edition. tape 1 . FA Brockhaus, 1911, p. 1033 .
  6. image font number. Founding project of the Helmholtz Center for Cultural Technology. Retrieved November 12, 2017 .
  7. Marcel Mauss: The techniques of the body. In: Marcel Mauss (Ed.): Sociology and Anthropology . tape 2 . Munich 1974, p. 197-220 .
  8. Harun Maye: What is cultural technology . In: Lorenz Engell, Bernhard Siegert (Hrsg.): Journal for media and cultural technology research . tape 1 , 2010, p. 135 .
  9. Horst Bredekamp, ​​Sybille Krämer: Culture, technology, cultural technology: Against the discursivization of culture . In: Horst Bredekamp, ​​Sybille Krämer (Hrsg.): Image – font – number . Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2003, p. 9-22 .
  10. Thomas Macho: Animals of the second order. Cultural techniques of identity. In: Heinrich Schmidinger, Clemens Sedmak (Ed.): The human being - an "animal symbolicum"? Language, ritual, topologies of the human . tape 4 . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2007, p. 53 .
  11. Hartmut Winkler: Litigation. The third, neglected media function . tape 1 . Wilhelm Fink Verlag Munich, Paderborn 2016, p. 24-25 .
  12. Bernhard Siegert: Culture technology . In: Harun Maye, Leander Scholz (Ed.): Introduction to cultural studies. Munich 2010.
  13. "Research Subject Cultural Techniques" by Bernhard Siegert, accessed on December 12, 2012 ( Memento of October 4, 2007 in the Internet Archive ).
  14. Institute for Spatial and Landscape Development (IRL) , Review Institute for Cultural Technology (IFK) at ETH Zurich