The cultural turn

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The cultural turn is described by Aitken and Valentine (2009, p.339) as following: A trend in the late twentieh and early twenty-first centuries which has seen the social sciences and humanities increasingly focus on culture. The cultural turn is linked to postmodernist philosophies. Post-modernism and Post-structuralism are tendencies/movements which has evolved from the cultural turn. The essence of the cultural turn was to turn culture in to the subject of debate. Whereby the emphasis on meaning and no less on the epistemology. Culture in this context means the social process in which people make their identities, define the values and beliefs they have and make sense of their own world.

The cultural turn started in the 1970's. Geographers became aware of the fact that causality could not declare everything that happens in our environment. We live in a world build out of human decisions, People don't accept their envinment as it is. They want to shape it according to their aspirations (Clava, Alberti & Scaivi, 2003). Culture is made at the same time of inherited practices, know-hows and knowledge, and plans for the future. You can see culture as the way people give meaning to their lifes(Clava et al. 2003).

The cultural turn builds further on the critisism of the Linguistic turn. The difference between the cultural turn and the Linguistic turn is that the linguistic turn is focused on language and language as action, Where the cultural turn is focused on culture and society as a whole.

Prominent figures in the cultural turn


  • Aitken, S. & Valentine, G. (2009). Approaches to human geography. Sage
  • Bonnel, E. & Hunt, L. (1999) Beyond the cultural turn
  • Clava, Alberti & Scaivi (2003) The cultural turn in geography: proceedings of the conference, 18-20th of September 2003, Gorizia Campus
  • Unknown. Retrieved 2012 October 3 from


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