There was the following sentence in the commentary of Joshua Rothman, the New Yorker’s archive editor on Amy Chua’s memoir, “Tiger Mom” under the title, “The Battle hymn of the Tiger Family” in the online New Yorker February 4 issue:
"Why didn’t all sorts of families, and not just Asian ones, send their kids to cram schools to study for Stuyvesant entrance exam? They regard the usual explanation, that Asian-Americans have an ‘education culture,’ as circular. The challenge is to delve deeper and discover the cultural roots of this behavior – to identify the fundamental cultural force that underlie it. - -
The thing is, though, that often, cultures really are circular. All the time, communities judge their members by standards that are, on some level, arbitrary." http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2014/02/the-battle-hymn-of-the-tiger-family.html
I’m not clear with the meaning of the word, “circular” used here.
Cambridge English Dictionary defines ‘circular’ only as an adjective, meaning;
- Shaped like a circle:
- Describes an argument that keeps returning to the same points and is not effective.
OALD adds to;
- Moving around in a circle as adjective, and
- A letter sent to a large number of people as noun.
There is no mention of “circular” as a verb in both CED and OALD.
However, none of the above definitions seems to sit well with “culture(s)” in the above context to me.
Does “culture as circular” mean culture is inherited generation to generation? What does “have an education culture as circular” and “cultures really are circular” mean?