What Is Culture?
Culture refers to the systems of beliefs and attitudes that make up a people’s way of life. Culture encompasses the most high-brow aspects of human behavior, as well as all of the more common activities that define a people. From baseball games to symphony concerts to McDonald’s, culture is everywhere. It can be thought of as a system of shared history, beliefs, practices, codes, and symbols.
It is important to note that culture is the result of an organism’s evolution. Biologic systems are prone to enlargement, but the evolution of culture is oriented towards security and stability. While instinctive behaviour is determined by the intrinsic properties of an organism, learned behaviour is variable and is passed on from one generation to another. Among human beings, culture is a system of meanings created through the human capacity for symbolization.
Values are the core of a culture. They are broad tendencies, such as good-evil, right-wrong, and natural-unnatural. Many of these values remain unconscious to the people who hold them, but they can be inferred from their behaviour. Other elements of culture include symbols, heroes, and rituals. These are often performed by members of a group for social or personal reasons.
Cultural values differ from society to society. Some cultures demand strong conformity to cultural norms, while others tolerate cultural deviance. Cultural norms are subject to historical, ecological, and socio-political institutions. It is important to understand cultural values as they can affect your ability to work with others. The key is to be flexible in your approach.
Culture is also an important factor in education. Diversity in culture is critical to ensuring that students from different backgrounds access quality education. This is essential in all aspects of education. So how do we understand the different ways that cultures work? In a word, culture involves the way people think, act, and value things. Moreover, culture also involves the material objects that we use to represent ourselves and our culture.
Cultural appropriation is a problem when we try to use a culture’s cultural symbols or rituals for our own personal gain. It is considered plagiarism and adds denigration to the originality. It is best to learn about a culture’s culture first before borrowing its culture’s art or materials.
Culture appropriation occurs when a dominant group appropriates a cultural element from a minority group. That group has historically been oppressed or exploited. The dominant group often fails to understand the history of an element and sees it as appropriate. For instance, a white person might use a Black woman’s traditional Halloween costume as a Halloween costume.
Another cultural difference is the social distance between people. Some societies place a high value on competition and aggressive behaviour, while others place a higher value on interpersonal relationships.