Essay: Culture Refers to the Accumulated Knowledge

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¶ … Culture refers to the accumulated knowledge, social and personal behavior, values, language, customs, and the religious beliefs of one ethnic group which are usually learned and passed from one generation of people to the next one. Looking at culture from an anthropological viewpoint, culture determines what people belief in their folk remedies, indigenous systems of medicine and other aspects of life such as food, etc.

Indians have their own unique religion, language, music, dance, food and architecture which differ from one place to another within the country. The Indian culture is an amalgamation of several diverse sub-cultures which spread all over the subcontinent of India and traditions which are more than a millennium old White, 2009()

The Indian culture is regarded by many historians around the world as the civilization that is the oldest in the world. They suggest that the traditions which are still present in the Indian culture date back to the year 8000 BC. The Indian culture has a history that is continuous regarded since the time of the Vedas which is believed to have been there about 3,000-5,500 years ago Mandair, 2007.

Some of the elements which are in the Indian culture have a huge impact all over the world. These include yoga, Indian religions and the Indian cuisine.

Methodology

Qualitative research was in the past restricted to research linked with social sciences. However, it is now more widely used in other fields to provide an in-depth understanding of how human beings behave and the reasons to justify that behavior. Qualitative research answers questions in the form of 'how' and 'why?' while quantitative research aims to answer questions in the form of 'who?', 'what?', 'when?' and, 'where?.' Quantitative research is interested in finding percentages, measures of central tendencies and other numerical measurements to analyze and gives a detailed description of how the independent and dependent variables relate while qualitative research deals with individual cases and provides greater depths and understanding of each case while looking only at the practical and pertinent information.

Quantitative research is widely used in psychology and other social sciences. In quantitative studies, the research is done to prove a hypothesis that was developed by the researcher. A hypothesis is a tentative explanation for an observation or phenomenon that is subjected to further testing. The similar of a hypothesis in a qualitative study is a theory. A theory is an attempt made to satisfy the 'why' question.

There are five most common approaches used in qualitative research. These are ethnography, grounded theory, case study, discourse analysis, or phenomenology. The method that is to be used in this qualitative study is ethnography. Ethnography helps to get an in-depth understanding on the aspects of culture which influence the phenomenon under study Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007.

It is often used to gather data that is derived from experiments and observation rather than from theory. Ethnography is particularly done with the end purpose of enabling the researcher to describe the people targeted by the study Murchison, 2010()

How ethnography is used

Majorly, two types of data will be collected for this study. These are primary and secondary data. The former will be collected through structured interviews with key respondents such as cultural officials and other personnel in the culture museums, elders, community leaders, and key people in the country. Focus group discussion (FGDs) may also be held to get insight on what are the various aspects of the culture. FGDs involve having the researcher as the facilitator or moderator as the group discusses the culture and their cultural activities. Data will also be collected through observation and taking part in three cultural activities such as a religious ceremony, a meal and a cultural activity that is unique to this group. Secondary data will be collected from reflexive journals, analysis of published and unpublished documents and reports also other data that will be relevant to this study.

Literature review

Religion and spirituality

India as a country is the birth place of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism which are collectively referred to as the Indian religions. Indian religions are also known as Dharmic religions and they are a major form of religions of the world alongside the Abrahamic religions. In the current world, Hinduism and Buddhism are the third and fourth largest religions in the world respectively. They have about 2 billion followers altogether and could have 2.5 to 2.6 billion followers Yurni, 2012.

The country of India is also the birthplace for the faiths of Ahmadiyya and Lingayat Garroutte et al., 2009()

India is also one of the countries in the world that is religiously diverse. It also has some of the most deeply religious cultures and societies in the world. Religion is a huge element of the people who are of the Indian culture thus it plays a definitive central role in the lives of these people. According to a census that was conducted in India in the year 2001, the religion of 80% of the people in India is Hinduism. Islam is practiced by about 13% of all the Indians in the country Andrews, 2010()

There are also other religions that have huge numbers of followers in India. The other religions in the country are Christians who are about 23 million, Sikhs who total about 19 million and Buddhists who total about 8 million. There are also about 4 million Jains Novetzke, 2006.

Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism are influential in also other parts of the world and not just in India. Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and the Baha'i Faith are also influential in India though they have smaller numbers of followers. Other religions are agnostics and atheism also has a visible influence in the country and along with other self-ascribed tolerance to others Ernst, 2011()

The Hindu religion also has many schools which present their own unique views. A good example is that according to Yogavasistha which is a spiritual text of the Advaita School of the Hindu religion. This school of Hindu religion has liberated values and teaches about self-actualized human beings Nemec, 2009.

There is also a significant discussion in India regarding the notion, existence and non-existence and relevance of God.

Family structure

The Indian cultural traditions regarding family structure have been a subject of various studies in India. In the history of India and particularly in certain regions of the country, joint families have played a significant role in shaping the Indian culture. For many generations, India has had the joint family system prevailing. The joint family system is whereby the members of the extended family live together. These include parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, spouses, etc.

Usually, the eldest male member of the family is regarded as the head of the family in the joint Indian family system. He is thus involved in making all the decisions and rules that are important for that particular family and all other members of the family are required to abide by these rules.

In a study that was conducted in the year 1966 by Orenstein and Micklin, they found that the size of households in India have remained similar for the period of years from 1911 to 1951. The study was an analysis of the population data of India and the family structure. After 1951, the development of India in terms of urbanization and economic development led to India witnessing a breakup of the traditional joint family structure which was present to a more nuclear family structure which includes the father, mother and their children.

Over the last 60 years, it has also been noted that the cultural trend in most parts of India has been a change from the joint family structure to nuclear families. This trend has been quite accelerated as a result of urbanization and other economic factors. The traditional joint family structure in India which was made up of large families still persists in certain regions of the country and in certain conditions. This is because of the strong cultural traditions still in existence in many parts of the country as well as due to other factors of practicality. In the 1990s, the country had a small number of households and on average the country had a lower per capital income per household as compared to other countries. This was as a result of this traditional joint family structure.

Marriage

In the Indian culture, arranged marriages have been part of the tradition of the society for many centuries. This is where men and women have their marriages planned for them by their own parents who do so together with other respected members of the family with the consent of the groom and the bride. However, currently, this trend is decreasing and more men and women are being given the choice of who they want to marry.

In most Indian marriages, the family of the bride provides a dowry to the bride in order for it to act as a safeguard for herself and for her children in the unfortunate event that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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