Culture has a very crucial role in the social lives of humans; its effect can be seen in all our acts. What does culture mean, and why it is an integral part of human life?
Let us move ahead and learn detail of culture, its function characteristics, and elements.
What is Culture?
A set of morals, traditions, attitudes, ambitions, way of thinking, clothing style, eating habits, events, music, art defining a specific society is known as culture.
What does culture mean, according to Mex Weber
“The field in which man realizes himself, fundamentally as a creator of meanings or as an interpreter of his own existence”
It is not static; it changes with time; however, it may take centuries to change society’s culture. Moreover, different cultures interact with each other, and often they mix and compete with one another.
Culture is known by the name of its areas, such as Greek culture, Latin culture, and Western culture.
In Indian culture, women wear a specific attire known as sari and on the wedding bridle war red dress. Vedic chanting is a very famous tradition. Similarly, Navratri, Onam, Durga Puja, etc., are their events.
Functions of Culture
Understanding of functions of cultures will help you know what does culture mean and its importance. Here are a few functions
1. Defines Situation
Suppose you moved from one place to another, and there is a massive difference between both cultures. You can never guess the importance of certain situations and how to act in them without any clue.
Suppose now everyone around you is sad and no one is talking to each other like they do in the usual meets-up. So, from these clues, you can guess that something terrible has happened; it is not an appropriate situation to laugh or discusses daily life things.
2. It gives you a Behavior Pattern
It is not possible to learn everything by performing practical. You learn some things from culture unconsciously, and with time they become part of your life, and you never act against them.
For example, when someone dies, all the nearby people are very sad, and you learn that when a soul departs from this world, you have to be sad and show commiseration with his family.
Similarly, when there is a marriage, birthday party, or an event, everyone is happy there, and you learn that you also have to be in a happy and pleasant mood on such days.
3. Transfers Knowledge
Whenever a family or a person moves from one family to another, they carry their culture and follow it. However, with time, many things also add to their culture.
Similarly, the people of that area get to know about their culture. So if you want to study the culture of a specific location, there is no need to go and live in that area; you can even ask it from the immigrants of that area.
Furthermore, there is no need to ask certain things; you can observe them visually, for example, their dress code, way of greeting, etc.
4. Defines Personality
When a child is born, he does not know anything; he learns things that his surrounding people practice. As he learns language automatically, he starts practicing many other things unconsciously.
For example, if he lives in a society of honest people who do not lie, he will learn that lying is wrong. Similarly, he learns how to meet with people of different genders and ages.
Furthermore, the culture also sets his career goals because all cultures consider few things taboo, but they are not wrong, so he will try his best to do no involve in such things.
Characteristics of Culture
Here is the list of characteristics of culture
1. It is Learned
When a child is born, he does nothing, but he notices his father, mother, relatives, and friends as he grows and starts understanding things. Then he also starts following their practices unconsciously.
The process of learning culture is called enculturation, and your child will learn the same things that are done by people who live nearby him.
2. It is Shared
Every person in a society does not have their own culture, but they are sharing it. Due to the mutual sharing of culture, there is love between them.
They know each other’s situation and act accordingly; moreover, there is a similarity in thinking of people of the same culture, so they have almost the same opinions.
3. It is Flexible
Culture is not a static or fixed set of norms, but it is flexible and keeps changing with time. There were many traditions, but now nobody practice them know, and the new generations do not even know about them.
It means that traditions have been removed from the culture. Similarly, some new practices keep adding to culture.
4. It does not Exist Isolated
In old ages, there was almost no communication between people of different societies that’s why have on idea about each other traditions.
However, now people are in touch with each other, and they study cultures of different societies and have started celebrating other events.
Elements of Culture
Let us have a look at the elements of the culture to deeply understand what does culture mean.
Every culture has its beliefs for fulfilling spiritual needs. For example, some societies worship the sun, moon, and stars. Similarly, in some societies worship cow
Each culture has its norms; certain things are considered normal in one culture; however, other cultures have formulated laws for stopping people from following them.
It is common practice that in most areas of the Middle East, women must cover their bodies entirely; however, in the United States, they can go out even by wearing just a bikini.
Similarly is common to have sexual intercourse before marriage in some states, but it is considered an enormous sin in Muslim countries.
Similarly, the ritual also differentiates the two cultures; for example, there is a vast difference in the death rituals of societies. You might have witnessed that in India, everyone wears a white dress for attending a funeral.
Indians burn the dead body and flow the ashes in the rivers. However, in other countries like the United States, they close dead bodies in a coffin and bury them in the ground.
There are certain gestures in each society that people use for delivering different things. For example, in some cultures, people shake hands, and they do not even have to say something, but they are greeting with each other
However, in Hindus, the symbol of greeting is different; they join the palms of both hands. This is all about what does culture mean.
In short, culture is a set of codes of life, and with time everyone learns it from his nearby people. Moreover, it polishes your social skills; you interpret the situation by culture and act accordingly.
You get to know others while studying their culture. Norms, language, rituals, and beliefs are the main elements of a culture. Flexibility, unconscious learning, and integration with other cultures are worth mentioning characteristics of cultures.