Culture Definition of "Culture" Alfred Essay

Pages: 8 (2434 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Anthropology

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Indeed values are the only basis that explains the comprehensive culture because the actual organization of a culture is basically in terms of its values (Kuper, p.58). Every culture has its own values and it is very important to appreciate the values of all cultures.

Kroeber and Kluckhohn were of the view that the essential core of culture is the traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and their attached values (Bachika, p.209). Traditional ideas are the attitudes and association which are built in a particular culture and are attached to the surroundings of entities. For instance, any spice may be considered as a sweet dish in one culture but is used as a main course ingredient in some other culture.

According to Kluckhohn, value is "a conception, explicit or implicit, distinctive of an individual or characteristic of a group, of the desirable which influences the selection from available modes, means and ends of actions" (p.289). Hofstede defined values as the parameter of a particular culture about how good or evil an idea or concept is. For instance they deal with things like "dirty vs. clean," "ugly vs. beautiful" or things relevant to the research questions; i.e. "irrational vs. rational" (p. 6).

This proves that values are the central elements of any culture, which once acquired are very stable; do not easily change or attribute same level of stability to some other element (Gertsen, Soderberg and Torp, p.135). For example, helping someone may be considered as a legal obligation in one culture but it might not be compulsory in other cultures. Similarly celebrating a particular event which is obligatory in one culture may be considered as useless and time waste in other culture and therefore is not practiced at all.

Culture as Products of Action

Culture is shaped by the actions of the people and therefore is can also be defined as the products of the action. Culture of one group is also influenced by the culture of other groups, through the cultural diffusion which brings the cultural change. For example, Buddhism in China was brought due to the Silk Road, which was used to bring silk to the West and in turn it resulted in change in beliefs and values. Similarly new technologies also travel from one society to another society, for instance the car culture, which is a term use to describe the dependence of people on the automobile.

Furthermore, fast food restaurants are also an example of cultural diffusion which started when people started selling hot and inexpensive food in some parts of the world. This action resulted in the trend of fast food chains which have now spread to many parts of the world, giving rise to the fast food culture.

These all examples show that culture is actually the product of the actions of people. People keep innovating and inventing things so the culture keeps changing. Modes of transportation, communication, education, medication and several other areas have changed due to continuous actions of people which results in such products that change the culture.

Culture as Conditioning Elements of Further Action

Almost all definitions of culture agree on the point that culture is always learned. Several elements play a role in learning the culture; for instance habits, customer, traditions and values. This learning about the do's and don'ts of a particular culture are called the conditioning elements.

As humans grow up they learn the basic things and new behaviors. This can be explained by a simple example of how Americans use their utensils while eating. It is observed that most of the people in America use knife only for cutting the food and eat only with the help of fork. They put down the knife and take fork in the same hand for eating. However, Europeans use both fork as well as knife when eating and do not perform the utensils switching activity. This is a habit which Americans and Europeans learn from the childhood as it is part of their culture. If an American tries to adopt the European style than he will have to learn it from them and then he can do further action.

It is also important to know that when people try to adopt a new behaviour, they are actually also internalizing the beliefs and values of that particular culture. For example, an American is taught to eat with one hand because eating with both utensils is considered as a rude attitude in American culture. Therefore, if any American doesn't find it rude, he will try switching to this new way of eating and will also pass it to his off springs.

This is the reason that culture is considered as what a group of people think and how they behave which they pass on to the future generations. These beliefs and behaviors bound us human beings with each other but at the same time separate them into different communities.

Works Cited

Bachika, Reimon. Religion and Culture in a New Era. Transaction Publishers, New Jersey. 2002:

Hofstede, G. Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations across Nations. 2nd edf. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. 2000

Jackson, Peter. Maps of Meaning: An Introduction to Cultural Geography, Unwin Hyman

Limited, 1989: 17.

Kroeber, Alfred and Kluckhohn Clyde. Culture: A Critical View of Concepts and Definitions.

Cambridge/Mass: Harvard UP 1952: Vol. 47.

Kuper, Adam. Culture: The Anthropologists' Account. USA. 1999: 58.

Martine Cardel Gertsen, Anne-Marie Soderberg, Jens Erik Torp. Cultural Dimensions of International Mergers and Acquisitions. Walter de Gruyter, 1998: 135.

Schaller, Mark and Crandall, Christian. The Psychological Foundations of Culture, Taylor and Francis e- Library. 2008:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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