What is Culture?

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Culture is a way of life at a particular time, though dynamic it has a very strong element of consistency. It involves practices and shared values that are considered the norm among a group of people at that time. These values and practices are learnt through social interactions and distinguish the group from others. Culture is the single most powerful influence on how we perceive the world and everything in it. Anyone who does not share in our culture will always appear odd and they will think the same of us.

Every society has a culture that carries it social rules. These rules are an unwritten code of conduct which is learnt continuously through out life. Breaking these rules will normally result in social rejection and isolation. Culture also sets standards for the society. Beauty, wisdom, style and other such qualities will differ greatly across cultures. Members of a society will strive to live within the cultural rules and aspire to the cultural standards of their society. These rules and standards will normally be modified according to age where younger members of the society are allowed some lee way but are expected to catch up as they grow up. Those who are able to quickly adapt and embrace the culture of the society are considered mature.

Though cultures are unique to societies they have some universal similarities. In all cultures around the people consider blood relations as the closest bond. You will also find that in most cultures people are classified according to age. Most cultures have some form of spirituality. Religion is an important component of culture with members of a society having to qualify culturally before they can aspire for spirituality. These similarities cut across all cultures and are embraced by all societies in one way or another.

Culture started developing from the beginning of man’s existence on earth and has continued to evolve due to experiences that have created need for new practices and stopping others. There are some who consider cultural evolution as being destructive with the exception of when it is necessary for the survival of the society. This is not entirely true since cultural evolution does not only take away but must always replace the value or practice. However it does take away part of the unique identity of the society and with time may lead to the total replacement of a culture by another. Being able to replace another culture implies superiority over their values and practices. It is a conquest that most cultures strive for.

There are cultures that are very distinct from all others and it is easy to identify those of that culture. However due to interaction between the many cultures that exist, the world currently has many diluted cultures which have many common practices and values. What is commonly referred to as Western culture, is the dominant way of life with most people subscribing to its values. It is very possible that one day in the future the whole world will have one culture.

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