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. The word 'culture' is most commonly used in three ways.
- Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture.
- An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior.
- The outlook, attitudes, values, morals goals, and customs shared by a society.
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.
Cultures are what make countries unique. Each country has different cultural activities and cultural rituals. Culture includes material goods, the things the people use and produce. Culture is also the beliefs and values of the people and the ways they think about and understand the world and their own lives.
Regional or non-regional cultures
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.
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 is studying human beings and how they relate to each other. An anthropologist is a person who studies anthropology. Anthropologists study how culture shapes people and their lives. Cultures constantly change as people move and communicate with new groups of people.
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 bring pieces of their culture to a new place where others begin to experiences it.
Petroglyphs in modern-day Gobustan, Azerbaijan, dating back to 10,000 BCE and indicating a thriving culture
The Beatles exemplified changing cultural dynamics, not only in music, but fashion and lifestyle. Over a half century after their emergence they continue to have a worldwide cultural impact.
An Assyrian child wearing traditional clothing.
Culture for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.