Local Learning Glossary

Acculturation–modification of groups’ and individuals’ culture, behavior, beliefs, and values by borrowing from or adapting to other cultures.

Aesthetics–the sense of what people consider beautiful or culturally appropriate, varying from folk group to folk group and individual to individual.

Assimilation–adaptation to a majority group’s cultural ways.

Community–a specific group of people who share a worldview that is based on cultural and/or biological commonalities and shared traditions, also called a folk group.

Context–the overall setting, history, and situation that a cultural expression is based in; the “story” of an artifact, tradition, or oral narrative.

Cultural Processes–culture and knowledge passed on through folk, popular, or elite cultural modes.

Culture–the customs, values, worldview, attitudes, expressive behaviors, and organization of a group of people, their way of life, which is learned through observation and imitation, not inherited genetically.

Discrimination–behavior that treats people unequally.

Ethnocentrism–the view that one’s own cultural assumptions are superior and should be used to judge others.

Ethnography–a study of culture and cultural processes that uses multiple ways to research, observe, and document people, events, or artifacts. See fieldwork.

Fieldwork–methods and ways folklorists and other social scientists use to identify and document traditional culture through directly observing tradition bearers and cultural processes. See ethnography.

Folk or Traditional Culture–culture and knowledge passed on over time informally (by word of mouth, imitation, and observation). Also known as traditional culture and used as another term for folklife. See Cultural Processes.

Folk Group–a group of people who share some identity and cultural expressions, a community.

Folklife–used like the word folklore, folklife refers to the living traditions currently practiced and passed down by word of mouth, imitation, or observation over time and space within groups, such as family, ethnic, social class, regional, and others. Everyone and every group has folklore.

Folklore–traditions, which are not necessarily old, that are passed on informally (by word of mouth, observation, and imitation) over time and through space. Folklore is usually anonymous, has motifs or patterns that stay the same, yet also varies as it is passed on.

Folklorist–scholar of folklore who conducts fieldwork and studies the culture of folk groups.

Indigenous Teachers–people who pass on knowledge and skills outside a school setting and within a community or folk group.

Insider–someone from inside a folk group who learns and passes on the folklife of the group.

Material Culture–a broad genre of folklore including a vast array of traditional artifacts or objects from fence types to quilts, instruments to foodways.

Occupational Folklife–the knowledge, customs, traditions, oral narrative, music, and lore of occupational folk groups.

Oral History–collecting interviews of ordinary people to get their stories about their participation in events, which fills gaps in written records and tells of those who are often absent from official histories.

Oral Narrative–includes many types of spoken folk genres, from jokes to legends.

Outsider–the point of view of a cultural outsider such as a scholar, visitor, or tourist observing the folklife of a group.

Popular Culture–culture and knowledge passed on through mass media, magazines, television, radio, Internet.

Prejudice–an opinion or attitude that can be positive or negative but is often negative and aimed at people who are not cultural “insiders.”

Stereotype–an exaggerated belief that can be positive or negative but generalizes without allowing for differences.

Variant–a variation within a tradition, a different version.

Vernacular–the everyday expression of cultural groups, from language to architecture.

Worldview–abstract cultural aspects that give value, meaning, and order to the experiences of a folk group, often embodied in folklife.

Adapted with permission from www.louisianavoices.org.