The Concept of Culture
Culture is the cumulative deposit of learned behavior accumulated by a group of people over generations through their interaction with each other and with the environment. It includes languages, ideas, beliefs, values, attitudes, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe and material objects and possessions that are shared by a group. It also refers to the cultural system that a society develops as a result of its interactions with other societies over time.
The concept of culture is one of the most fundamental and complex issues in humanities. The term is used in a wide range of fields and disciplines, including anthropology, history, sociology, art criticism and religious studies. It is also widely used in education and cultural policy.
For some 19th century critics, such as Rousseau, culture was seen as a set of practices and traditions that are intrinsic to the essential nature of human beings. Thus, folk music was seen as authentic and true, whereas classical music seemed superficial and artificial. This view of culture was also applied to the distinction between “high” and “low” cultures, with high culture viewed as an unnatural development that obscures and distorts people’s essential, natural way of life.
This understanding of culture was expanded in the late 1970s by scholars in the United States and Britain who developed a different version of the discipline called cultural studies. This new approach, building on the work of anthropologists such as Richard Hoggart and E.P. Thompson, included a more overtly political and left-wing agenda, and it focused on popular culture and mass media as well as traditional forms of art.
It is important to note that every cultural system exists in a natural habitat, and the environmental conditions of the habitat exert a strong influence upon the social systems. For example, some Eskimo groups adapted to their icy environments by developing tailored fur clothing, snow goggles and boats and hemispherical snow houses (igloos).
Similarly, the sedentary horticultural tribes of the Great Plains became nomadic hunters when they acquired herds of sheep and horses.
The process of acquiring and disseminating culture is a dynamic and constantly changing process. As a result, cultural clashes are an inevitable part of human life. However, there are ways to mitigate the impact of these clashes and foster a more inclusive, equal and effective multicultural society. For example, by getting to know someone who has a different cultural background, you can learn more about their perspective and understand some of the differences in their values and attitudes. This can help you appreciate their culture and avoid making offensive statements that may offend them or create misunderstandings.