What is Culture?



Culture was defined earlier as the Language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and material objects that are passed from one generation to the next. As this definition suggests there are two basic components of culture, ideas and symbols on one hand and artifacts ( material objects) on the other. The first type, called non-material culture, includes the values, beliefs, symbols, and language that defines society. Second type, called material culture, include all society’s physical objects, such as its tools and technology, clothing, eating utensils and means of transportation.


All cultures include symbols which confer meanings to things and events.

These symbols are expressed through what we call language. Language conveys the beliefs and values of a culture.

Values are ideas. These ideas are translated into norms which give us in concrete terms how we should behave.

Humans had acquired the ability to learn from others, and to copy, imitate and improve upon their actions. This meant that elements of culture themselves— ideas, languages, beliefs, songs, art, technologies— could act like genes, capable of being transmitted to others and reproduced. But unlike genes, these elements of culture could jump directly from one mind to another, short-cutting the normal genetic routes of transmission. And so our cultures came to define a second great system of inheritance, able to transmit knowledge down the generations.”

[From: Wired for Culture]

Your culture is like water and you are the fish.  You are mostly unaware of the cultural values you hold  until you interact with others of a different culture or learn of other cultures through education and investigation.  Your cultural matrix initially provide you with a world view, value system, and a way of interacting with people of your own culture with a almost esp like set of protocols.

Culture provides us with a structured set of social expectations that enable us to connect with others raised similarly. It gives us a set of norms, behaviors, rituals and symbols through which we can explore our identity. Often we need to reject and then re-embrace our culture in a different way as adults (like a “remix”) to feel like we have found ourselves.

Culture and personality:

 Culture refers to the shared values, beliefs and norms of specific group of people. Culture therefore, influences the manner we learn, live and behave. Because of this, many theorists believe that the culture is an important shaper of our personality.

Culture and Behavior: 

Culture as an influence of behavior takes the “nurture” side of the argument about influences of behavior. culture looks at the totality of any given society’s belief system, laws, mores, practices, language and attitudinal variables which makes a people unique from others. As you know, it is transmitted from one generation to the other. What happened when you are groomed in the ways of a particular culture?

You start acting and behaving in ways that are seen as appropriate to such a culture. Your dress sense, grooming, language, belief system and attitude become molded to fit into that society which makes you become accepted by them.


Cultural study is basic for every person. To understand your identity and existence, everyone should know the basics.

To understand your culture, you need to pay close attention to its quiet, sometimes hidden, manifestations, such as the side conversations in the hallways, the informal consultations behind closed doors, and the incisive guidance that people get when they ask one another for advice.”
[From: Stop Blaming Your Culture]


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