Culture is the way of life of a group, and it includes all customs, attitudes, values, beliefs, and norms of behavior. It also includes symbols and rituals. The core of a culture is its values, which are broad tendencies toward preferences for certain states of affairs over others (for example, good-evil, right-wrong, or natural-unnatural).
People in different cultures may have different ideas about what is important. They may also have different ways of expressing these ideas. Whether or not these differences are meaningful depends on how these ideas fit into the broader context of the society in which they are developed. For example, the beliefs of one group may be less important than the behaviors that those beliefs support.
In addition to understanding the culture of other nations, it is important to understand the culture of the person who lives in your own community. Learning about the cultural background of your friends, neighbors and coworkers can help you build relationships across different cultural boundaries. You can do this by watching foreign films, attending local cultural events or seeking out online resources.
Many people are aware of the importance of cultural diversity in the workplace and in the world, but they may not know how to make it a reality. Developing a sense of appreciation for cultural diversity is a process that starts with the awareness of your own assumptions about other people. It is important to recognize that you do not have to agree with other people’s views, but you can respect their differences.
For centuries, historians have used the concept of culture to distinguish civilization from more primitive societies. They have also used it to describe the sophistication of a society in terms of its arts, sciences, manners and education. This approach to culture has been criticized by post-structuralist thinkers, who point out that social categories vary from place to place and time to time.
The study of culture is a broad field that draws from anthropology, sociology and history. Cultural history, as it is sometimes called, is an attempt to integrate anthropological concepts of culture and the tradition of historical analysis. It seeks to study the way that social institutions, cultural beliefs and social structures interact with each other.
The defining characteristics of this new approach to cultural history include an interest in how people communicate ideas, a skepticism about the claim that any particular story has “truth,” and a concern with the ways in which cultural factors shape social history. Scholars who practice this discipline draw on the work of scholars from a variety of other disciplines, including psychology, geography and economics. The results are a rich and diverse body of work that is likely to influence the future direction of history. In short, the new cultural history is a bridge between the old and the new.