The theoretical perspective on culture is inspired by the writings of Ralph Linton (1936), who emphasised participation and learning as central aspects of culture. According to this perspective, culture can be viewed as an activity or a product of an activity, which is performed, practised and participated in. Linton highlighted the various social contexts where culture is created and reproduced. He put special emphasis on the local settings, defined by direct interaction. He also discussed how different aspects of culture can be reproduced within different segments of a local society, social groups defined, for example, by age or sex. Rather than being homogeneous and coherent, culture can therefore be viewed as heterogeneous and divergent.
Linton´s emphasis on culture as participation and learning has a recent parallel in the Theory of Communities of Practice, as formulated by Etienne Wenger and Janet Lave (Lave & Wenger 1991, Wenger 1998). The theory of communities of practice discusses learning through engagement in communities defined by shared activities. By learning and participating in a cultural practice, for example manufacturing clay pots, that person becomes part of the community defined by the shared practice. Through engagement in the craft of the community, the participant forms a relation to the history of the practice. By (selectively) teaching the craft, the participants shape the future of the practice and of the community. In the engagement in cultural practice and through the participation in various communities of practice, aspects of identity are formed.