Describe the Primary Characteristics of Culture
In order to assess and learn the primary characteristics of culture, we must first know and understand the meaning of culture. So what is culture? Culture, according to the scholar and anthropologist of the 18th century, Mr. Edward B. Taylor, “culture is that complex whole that includes knowledge, belief art, law, morals, customs, and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. “So, based on this definition, we could say that culture depends heavily on society. It is, in a way, a collection of ways and course of doing things, which is an end result of human interaction with one another. It is, as you could say, a polished product of human experience. As time moves on, culture changes and grows more complex than it was before. If we would be lucky enough to be alive when the year 2050, we would be stunned to by the definite change of culture by then. Another important aspect of culture is the use of material objects; this is more commonly referred to as material culture. Evolution of some of these objects also makes the evolution of culture much more possible. For example, the computer was unheard of in the time of Newton, but through human experience, skills and needs, it is very much a common place object today and plays a very vital part of the existence of our society and culture. Though the evolution of the material culture is relatively important, much more important aspects are the skills and knowledge we acquire through the usage and application of these objects in our daily lives. All the skills we acquire, all the knowledge we gain, and all the purposes of these thing are more commonly referred to as the non-material objects of culture.
And now that we know the essentials of culture, we can now further understand the growth and development of culture through its primary characteristics.
Culture is learned. Man is not born with culture, but with the ability to learn, acquire, and develop culture through experience. For example, a child is born not knowing what culture is or how things are done in the eyes of society. But he learns through imitating, how thing are properly done. He then develops the necessary tools to go about his daily activities. Also, through the help of language, this is the primary tool for communication; the elder generation can pass to the younger generation the knowledge and skills they had acquired through experience. Therefore, because of these things, you could say that culture is learned.
All people have varied culture. There are differently groups of people around the world, and we call these groups different societies. A society may be a group of people banding together and living in a stable union, and pooling together their efforts to attain a common objective by collective action. Knowing this, people should not judge a custom of one society using his own since they both have different societies and culture. For example, in the Americas, there are many societies in the continent of the Americas; they have developed different cultures and norms from each society. The differences between societies lie in the rapidity and complexity of changes occurring within the society. No matter how much the complexity or the advancement of the said society has gained, it still has a culture unique to itself. Therefore, no culture is far more advanced or civilized than the other.
Culture is a group product. Culture was not designed by man to become what it has become. It is simply the accumulation of certain practices acquired by man through his interaction with other people. For example, you and your group may start out on a research. You may find a good method in doing this research with the help of another group mate. Other members may find a better way of improving the method you used in doing the research. And in due time, other groups may seem interested in your way of doing your research and may try to imitate it. Just one person in the group may not be a Man just adapted whatever practice was most useful to him at the time and then went on to keep that practice as time went further on. Therefore, culture is not only learned but is also transmitted through human interaction and experience. A generation may put an imprint upon the one before it, thus, making an accumulation and selective result of group life.
Culture is transmitted from generation to generation. This may happen through oral traditions or in writing. It may be transmitted through everyday conversation, through interaction between the older and the younger, and even through reward and punishment. Culture is accumulated and whatever the past has learned, the present and future generation may build on it to produce something better which may aid them more as they go along the roads of everyday life. For example, when people in the early days wanted to preserve food to keep them from rotting, they put them in barrels filled with salt or put in seasoning or exposed them under the sun to dry. By doing that, they are still ensured of having meat which wasn’t rotten but lost the flavor of fresh meat. So, the future generation invented a better way of preserving the meat and its flavor, by freezing it, and they accomplished that with the aid of the refrigerator.
Another means of transporting knowledge from generation to generation is through books and spoken language. The accumulated knowledge and learning of the bygone scholars and great thinkers of the past are imparted to us through the books and other written materials in which they have so tediously spent their lives writing. And also, through the spoken medium; oral traditions may not have been successfully passed to the younger generations if not through the use of songs, tales, stories, and other such things. That is why communication arts is a very important part of the school curriculum.
Culture is adaptive. Culture continually renews itself. It is even said that nothing is much more predictable than death, change, and culture change. Humans have a way of inventing things when he is in very much need of it. If he finds that the method he uses is no longer obtaining his desired results, he then turns to a new strategy which may give to him the results he so desires. For example, a teacher may find her class very rowdy, noisy and out of control. So she tries to shout on the top of her voice just to get the class’s attention. But It would only cause more of the riot, so, she tries another method. She keeps quiet and waits for the class to settle down. And settle they did. You see, this discovery of hers may result in a new behavior pattern which satisfies the characteristic mentioned above.
1. B. Under what circumstances should international business people impose the values of their culture on foreigners with whom they do business? Does it make a difference if the activity is conducted in the home or host country?
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