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By Natalia Bitekhtina, Larisa Grushevskaya, Yulia Sheina

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Culture as an ‘‘irreducibly social good’’ On one prominent conception of culture developed by Charles Taylor, culture is understood as an ‘‘irreducibly social’’ and intrinsic good. ’’ Each culture, like each language, is the expression of the authentic identity of a Volk. It is language that shapes people’s worldviews and experiences, and it is through language that individuals become who they are. 1 The Herderian conception of culture is echoed by the 1 Taylor 1985: 10, 230–34 and 1994: 31, 42.

Just as the connection between culture and individual freedom is contingent, so, too, is the connection between culture and self-respect. 28 Many people do have ‘‘deep bonds’’ to groups and rely on them for self-respect, but are they bonds to cultural groups? People have affective bonds to a range of communities – family, friends, fellow hobbyists and partisans, co-workers and co-religionists. So the choice is never between being a fully integrated member of a cultural group and being a detached, free-floating individual.

A common language and shared history are attributes associated with ethnic and national identity. Descent has been a central feature of racial and ethnic identity. The content of these social conceptions have varied over time, but long-standing stereotypes that associate certain attributes with a particular social identity are neither easily overturned nor within the exclusive control of those to whom the identity is ascribed. A second dimension of social identity is treatment by others. Who we take ourselves to be is shaped by the regard of others.

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A Living Russian Grammar by Natalia Bitekhtina, Larisa Grushevskaya, Yulia Sheina

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