Culture

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Culture is a word for people's 'way of life', meaning the way groups do things. Different groups of people may have different cultures. A culture is passed on to the next generation by learning, whereas genetics are passed on by heredity. Culture is seen in people's writing, religion, music, clothes, cooking, and in what they do.

The concept of culture is very complicated, and the word has many meanings.[1] The word 'culture' is most commonly used in three ways.

Most broadly, 'culture' includes all human phenomena which are not purely results of human genetics. The discipline which investigates cultures is called anthropology, though many other disciplines play a part.

National cultures[change | change source]

Cultures are what make countries unique. Each country has different cultural activities and cultural rituals. Culture is more than just material goods, that is things the culture uses and produces. Culture is also the beliefs and values of the people in that country. Culture also includes the way people think about and understand the world and their own lives.

Different countries have different cultures. For example, some older Japanese people wear kimonos, arrange flowers in vases, and have tea ceremonies.

Regional or non-regional cultures[change | change source]

Culture can also vary within a region, society or sub group. A workplace may have a specific culture that sets it apart from similar workplaces. A region of a country may have a different culture than the rest of the country. For example, Atlantic Canada has a different culture than the rest of Canada, which is expressed by different ways of talking, different types of music, and different types of dances.

A group who acts or speaks differently may be said to be, or have, a subculture.

Company cultures[change | change source]

Companies or other organizations (groups of people) can have a separate culture. Japanese manufacturing companies often have a different culture to Western companies; the workday starts with exercise, and the workers are very loyal to the company.

Companies in the high-technology sector often have a different culture than other companies. Software and computer companies sometimes allow employees to play games during the workday, or take time off work to relax, because these companies believe that this will help the workers to think better.

Anthropology[change | change source]

Anthropology is studying human beings and how they relate to each other. An anthropologist is a person who studies anthropology. Anthropologists believe that people use symbols to communicate (express) their experiences—who they are, what they believe, where they started.

Anthropologists call this use of symbols "culture". For example, immigrants (people who move from one country to another) may keep some of their customs and traditions from their old country. By keeping their culture in this way, they express who they are and that they came from somewhere else.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Kroeber A.L. and C. Kluckhohn 1952. Culture: a critical review of concepts and definitions.