Definition and Description of Culture

Definition and Description of Culture

When it comes to fully define and describing the culture, there are many different aspects that we need to touch in order to ensure that we fully understand the many elements that form culture. In most cases, we will always need to come in contact with the different layers of culture as well as the people of different cultures. By interacting with these facets of culture, we are able to understand the culture from different points of view which in most cases is not usually as easy as it sounds. In this article, we explore the culture and aim to fully define and describe this subject. It is usually very important to have a clue of what we need to understand and also look at the different ways that different individuals define it. Understanding another culture can always prove difficult unless you are able to understand and describe the different things that actually contribute and support that given culture.

Definition of Culture

There seems to be no all-encompassing definition of culture owing to the fact that it contains so many elements that may be left out during definition, However, in all the definitions, you realize that culture is actually learned. Culture can, therefore, be defined as the learned patterns of perception, values, and behaviors that are shared by a group of individuals who are dynamic and heterogeneous. What this means is that culture is not held by all individuals that you meet but can be shared across a mixed group of people. It, therefore, alludes to the cumulative deposit of values, beliefs, experience, attitudes, religion, hierarchies, spatial relations, knowledge, universe concepts, material objects of possessions and experiences acquired by a collective group of individuals in the course of generations through personal and collective endeavoring.

It is a way of life for a group of individuals. The systems of knowledge that are shared, symbolic communication, and cultivated behaviour. Some of the components of culture include behaviour acquired and transmitted by symbols, patterns, embodiments into artefacts, and consists of traditional ideas and attached values. When you talk about culture, it is also important to include the systems that govern individuals and groups. It is basically the total sum of learned and acquired behaviour of individuals in a group that is seen as a way of life of the people and is passed on from one generation to the next. A culture is a form of mind programming that greatly differentiates members of a group from other people of different cultures.

Understanding another culture is a learning process that may take you years to fully master. You are not born into a culture, you learn the culture. This is very imperative to remember because it reminds you that culture is something that is actually created. We are not born into the culture but we learn culture when we interact with other individuals and it is not programmed within us at birth. When you are born, you are not aware of your sex (male or female), but you learn the way you are supposed to behave depending on the people around you. You will need to watch and listen to the people in your life in order to determine where you belong and how you should behave. For example, if you are a girl born to a family where women are expected to and perform all the household chores, you will most likely perform those chores since it will become your core belief. In the same mannerism, boys who are born into families where the man is the sole provider will tend to work harder in order to be able to provide for their families. This is not the way of life for all groups of people but it simply explains how culture can be passed down from one generation to the next. We are, therefore, in a position to participate in other cultures other than those practised within our groups since it is something that we can learn.

When you enter a new culture, things may tend to seem foreign for a small amount of time until the point where you learn the new culture. You eventually learn the new cultural patterns and adapt to them accordingly. Culture by definition is therefore made up of shared perceptions and values. The way that you look at the world is shaped by your culture. It is the lens through which you will be able to clearly understand the things that happen to you and around you. You are able to select the stimuli in the environment that you will react to and then organize all the information that you perceive in a way that will allow you to interpret that message and assign meaning to it because of your culture. Our cultural values determine the stimuli that you will react to and how you will interpret that information.

Layers of Culture

In any form of civilization, there are different layers of culture. It may seem a little bit confusing when you discuss culture in form of layers but once you understand it, everything comes to light and you get to see culture from a different point of view. There is the official culture that is visible and that is officially recognized in terms of art, music, symbols and other elements. There is also the deep culture that is invisible and is made up of the perceptions, feelings, attitudes, food values and ideals of the society. Finally, there is popular culture/ mass culture/ pop culture. This last layer of culture is superficial and keeps on transitioning with time. Popular culture can be defined as a set of beliefs and practices and objects that are prevalent or dominant at a particular point in time. An example of this form of culture would be a fashion that seems to change every other given time. You find some fashion items dominating the market and been worn as trendy for a time before better items spring up and replace them. It is usually accepted in order to find acceptance in society at a particular period of time. This kind of culture is also considered as generally consumerist and sensationalist. Because of the advancements in technology, the world is now connected better and popular culture is seen to be even more transitional since current generations are able to learn from people of different cultures in all parts of the globe.

The most well-recognized forms of carriers of pop culture include entertainment in the form of movies, music, fashion, television, sports, social media and video games. Popular culture has been known to separate people in society in terms of financial status, gender, and age. It is descriptive to the inner layers of culture. Just like any other layers, pop culture is learned as seems to be more dynamic than any other layer. Initially, the Western world was at an advantage and did not find any difficulties coping with this form of culture. This was attributed to the fact that the power of influence was mostly with the west. These important layers of culture can also be observed from a special perspective where they are compared to the bulb onion. Since culture can be peeled off just like the onion, we are able to divide it into three major layers.

The outer layer of culture is the primary things that individuals associate with culture. These are inclusive of food, language, housing, behaviours, visual perspectives, etc. This is also referred to as the level of unequivocal culture. The second layer referred to as the middle layer alludes to the norms and values held by individuals and groups. This is what the community views as wrong or right and the good and bad values. The norms are usually created external and are reinforced by forces of social control. On the other hand, the values come from within and not many means exist for controlling or enforcing them. These two elements of middle culture structure the way people behave within a given culture. Despite their existence and influence on what happens, norms and values are not visible. The last layer of culture or the inner layer is the deepest and is the level of unspoken culture. In order to closely relate and work with other cultures, it is imperative that you clearly understand this inner layer of culture. This layer helps you to understand the basic assumptions, rules that govern the society, and the different ways to deal with the regular problem that you may be exposed to. It is the culture that has become so common that it is deeply instilled within us. You do not need to think about how you do it. When you are an outsider, it is very difficult for you to understand this form of culture. This layer of culture can be a very useful tool to evaluate national cultures. Analysing national cultures is however not an easy task since you need to deal with many different groups of people that in most cases do not necessarily share the same beliefs. There is however always a particular part of the culture that they tend to hold dear that you can easily recognize when you use the inner layer of culture as you observation criteria.

Definition and Description of Culture
Definition and Description of Culture

Description of culture

The description of culture is not quite different from the definition despite the fact that both always tend to look the same to most people. When you talk about the description of the culture, you are describing the different characteristics and knowledge of a particular group. This means that you are describing the religion, language, cuisine, arts, and music. This means that you do not simply offer the definition of the culture, you need to get into detail and describe all the elements of that culture. Every culture has come up with its own collections of basic assumptions. All the assumptions can be quantified through the use of dimensions. Culture differs in the different ways that they deal with the dimensions but they never differ in requiring to make some kind of response.

As discussed above, culture is a very important part of any community. It does not only offer individuals and the group a sense of identity, but it also offers the individuals and groups certain norms and values that make them better people in society. Culture is a thing that can be learned and it is therefore important to always be open-minded when it comes to culture. Understanding what certain individuals and groups hold as valuable can be very useful in maintaining peaceful societies and meaningful interactions. This can only be achieved if people clearly understand the concept of culture and the ways that it influences society.

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