Culture Wheel: Everything You Need to Know About It

by Anne B. Robinson

Have you ever heard of the culture wheel? Maybe you had an assignment that included it once in class.

But what is the culture wheel?

Putting it loosely, the culture wheel is a diagram meant to analyze the behavior of one individual based on his cultural background and aspects. It mostly tracks the individual’s actions and determines whether they’ll repeat themselves.

While you can use the culture wheel for an array of different uses, it’s mainly used to analyze situations with abusive or abused people. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

What Is the Culture Wheel?

The culture wheel is a diagram that explains and analyzes the actions of some individuals based on their cultural diversity and background.

As you probably already know, we live in a world of vast cultural diversity. Every group of people from different cultures has different beliefs and actions. Pair that with age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc., and you may get an explanation of a person’s violent actions.

That’s when the culture wheel comes into play. It’s basically a visual representation of all of that, and it’s used to explain why violence occurs.

By watching the way each culture uses power and identifies with it, you better understand why some individuals resort to violence.

One of the popular uses of a culture wheel is understanding why some victims return to their abusers. When some cultures normalize violence, the abused victims often prefer preserving their ‘stable’ lifestyle rather than getting a divorce or a new start. How do you know that? By using the culture wheel.

What Does a Culture Wheel Consist Of?

The culture wheel has endless variations. You may create any culture wheel, as long as it has at least a couple of the basics. If you search the internet, you’ll find a lot of templates made with different sections. As long as the wheel conveys the actions and beliefs of the culture, it doesn’t matter what it includes.

Here are all the factors that may go into a culture wheel, although not all of them are always used.


The economics part of the culture wheel should cover how the individuals in said culture earn their living. It may include the labor status in the culture and their forms of money. On top of that, it may mention the skills and technologies they depend on to earn money.


The religious part in the culture wheel speaks for itself. It should convey the people’s beliefs and spiritual practices. Additionally, it may cover the individuals’ flexibility to accept religious diversity in their region.

It may also mention the myths they believe in if any.

Social Institutions

In a culture wheel, the social institutions part conveys the social organization of the culture. That may include the educational systems, social laws and customs, marital organizations, and rites of passage.


Art is a section that you’ll often find in most culture wheels you come across. It should give a brief explanation of the art practices of said culture. That may include music, dance, architecture, painting, and maybe drama.

If a culture doesn’t have any of these, they aren’t mentioned.


Language is an essential part of many culture wheels because it dictates how individuals communicate. Some cultures also depend on non-verbal language and actions, which are often conveyed in culture wheels.

Basic Necessities

The basic necessities should give you an idea of how the individuals in a specific culture live. This part, in particular, is essential to let you determine whether the culture is built on luxurious or poor beliefs.

In this part, you’ll often find a listing of clothing types, food, transportation methods, animal use, and taboos.


Last but not least, the government part of the culture wheel is meant to tell you how the individuals are governed. Therefore, it should briefly mention who heads the culture and how they manage their hierarchy system.

Closing Thoughts

The culture wheel is merely a visual representation of a specific culture’s beliefs, actions, and backgrounds. It’s often used to explain the actions of some people, namely victims and abusers. However, it also helps you understand what’s normalized and what’s not in some cultures.

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