Culture is the shared beliefs, attitudes, values, and assumptions of a group. These are communicated in a variety of ways, including speech and the written word. It also includes behavior and manners. Culture can be as simple as language and a shared vocabulary or as complex as a group’s rituals and art. Often, cultural ideas are passed down by parents and elders in a family or community. It can also be learned from the media or through schools, religious institutions and businesses.
In the field of sociology, culture is the social formation of habits and beliefs that define a people’s lives. Sociologists have historically distinguished between high culture of the social elite and low culture, popular culture or folk culture of the masses.
A related concept is that of cultural identity, which is a sense of belonging to a particular group. This can include a shared language, religion or ethnicity as well as common beliefs and traditions. It may also be a sense of belonging to a particular neighborhood or workplace.
People develop and maintain their culture through the interactions of family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, education, media, religious institutions, businesses, sports teams and the community at large. These interactions can be positive and beneficial but sometimes lead to conflict and negative stereotypes. It is important to understand the origins of cultural conflict and how to manage it in order to avoid unnecessary confrontation.
An individual’s personality and life experiences will influence how he or she interprets culture. This influences how he or she interacts with others and what views and opinions he or she holds on specific topics. For example, someone who is raised to be a traditionalist may hold certain views on the role of women in society or the meaning of specific holidays.
Whether or not an individual embraces the characteristics of his or her culture, it is still important to have an understanding of it. This is particularly true when working with people from different backgrounds. People can use this understanding to help bridge gaps in communication.
This is also helpful when interacting with children from other cultures. Cultural differences can be confusing for a child and the use of an understanding of the cultural context can make the difference between the confusion turning into a learning opportunity or becoming a stumbling block.
The study of cultural history is a broad and interdisciplinary field that encompasses the study of both human and non-human cultures. It deals with all aspects of a society that can be considered part of its culture, such as language, ideas, customs, beliefs, laws, norms and rules, mores, tools, techniques and products, arts and works of art. In examining these elements of a society, the discipline of cultural history looks at both societal trends and patterns as well as the individual tendencies of its members. This is contrasted with the study of stereotypes, which are generalized tendencies that do not necessarily apply to any given person.