Culture is a broad term that refers to social norms and behaviour prevalent in human society. It also includes acquiring customs, beliefs, values, symbols, knowledge, capabilities, habits and arts through learning processes of a particular social group, nation or people.
Culture is a cultivated behaviour passed along with and without any conscious thought from one generation to the next via imitation and communication.
What is culture?
A culture signifies acceptable behaviour and conduct in a given society. It is, in fact, a set of guidelines that tells everyone about things like language, how to dress and even how to behave and interact, what is right and wrong, about religion, food, marriage and million other small and big things.
Culture is also referred to as symbolic communication which is learned and perpetuated in society so that it becomes easy to distinguish members of one group from another. It is an important concept that plays a critical role in our social life. Culture helps to outline social relationships, challenge social order and shape our everyday actions in society.
Types of Culture
The various types of culture are as follows-
1. Material Culture
An essential type of culture is Material culture that refers to the material or physical objects and resources that is used by people to define their perceptions and behaviour.
It includes outlets, products and services, tools, factories, offices, religious places like temple, mosque, church etc., and social infrastructures like the education system, house and health, economic infrastructures like energy capabilities, transportation etc. and financial infrastructures like insurance, banking etc. and numerous other things.
2. Non-material culture
Another type of culture is the non-material culture that refers to non-physical ideas that individuals have. It also refers to the intangible things produced by culture or parts of a culture that you cannot hold, taste, feel or touch. It includes language, morals, norms, rules, values and beliefs
3. Corporate culture
The culture that is prevalent in a workplace is referred to as corporate culture. It includes the dressing sense of the workforce, the design of the office, how employees are treated, the attitude of management, and how an organization projects itself in front of its customers.
4. Culture of diversity
It refers to a place where individuals belonging to different gender, race, origin and sexual orientation live. The diversity culture is prominent because the Community calendar includes events and festivals belonging to different races.
5. Popular culture
This type of culture refers to the everyday activities of the individuals in a place. It includes the best selling books, top music on the chart etc.
6. Foreign culture
When an individual travels to another country and comes across people that speak, dress, interact, behave, eat differently from himself, it is referred to as foreign culture.
Characteristics of culture
The various characteristics of culture are as follows
1. Culture is abstract
It is not possible to see culture, but it can be glimpsed through human behaviour in a regular or patterned fashion. It exists in the habits and minds of individuals and is often referred to as a specific way of thinking and doing things.
2. Culture is learned behaviour
It is a fact that most of our behaviour is learned although there are many things we pick up unconsciously. This is why the terms conscious and unconscious learning is used to differentiate between the learning processes.
3. Culture includes values and attitude
It is a misconception that attitude, values and options of people are their own. It is a fact that these things we pick up unconsciously as part of our culture
4. Culture is shared
People shares different aspects of culture unequally.
5. Culture includes material objects
Human beings modify the form of an object and change it to suit their needs, for instance, it cuts the tree and uses the wood to make furniture for his comfort
6. Culture is pervasive
It implies that culture touches cultural norms inspire all the aspects of our lives as both emotional and relational actions to a great extent
7. Culture is idealistic
It represents the norms and ideals of a group and includes social, artistic and intellectual ideas which the members strive to uphold
8. Culture is transmissive
An essential fact about culture is that it is passed from one generation to the next and thus is called transmissive. With the help of language, imitation and instruction, it becomes possible for this generation to understand the intricacies of the culture from the earlier generation.
9. Culture is transmitted
Culture is passed and learned from one to another person. In most cases, it is handed down by the elders and even by contemporaries in some cases. Much of the learning process is accidental or unintentional.
10. Culture varies from society to society
The culture of every society is unique and will vary from another society. It is a fact that cultural elements like beliefs, values, morals and traditions are not uniform so will vary
11. Culture is continually changing
Change is imminent even though in some cultures it is at a fast pace whereas in others it is a slow process.
12. Culture takes the help of language
Without the advantage of a language; it would have been a tad difficult to pass on the culture from one to another. It is the language that creates a common bond between members of a specific group.
It acts as an intermediary between past, present and future and helps to transmit the learned knowledge to others.
13. Culture is integrated
Various parts of culture are interconnected with each other, and one must learn about the full picture instead of titbits if he wants to understand the culture
14. Culture is dynamic
Culture of one place will come in contact with other cultures, and the interaction will lead to the sharing of ideas that will bring changes in both of them. Culture is dynamic as a change in one aspect will lead to a change in the whole process
15. Culture is gratifying
An essential characteristic of culture is that it offers ample opportunities to satisfy social and biological needs of human beings.
Elements of culture
The various elements of culture are as follows
The first and foremost element of culture is language. It is the vehicle that is used to transfer knowledge, ideas and information. It helps in direct connection with people and permits a better understanding of any given situation.
Every culture has symbols that are used as a means of non-verbal communication and even stand for motions and reactions
Another element of culture is norms because various culture differs in their norms. It can be formal and informal. The formal norm is laws and refers to the set standards of behaviour which are most important to every society.
The informal norms are often known as customs and refer to the standard of conduct which is not so rigid but still can influence a great deal.
It is the element value that determines the behaviour of a person and what he considers right or wrong
These are established practices, rules and traditions that are considered appropriate in society.
This element signifies the underlying belief of an individual and his tendency to behave in a specific manner
It is a set of activities with a specific meaning that occurs in a particular circumstance.
8. Physical artefacts
This is one of the critical elements of organizational culture. Each organization is unique in terms of its culture that includes the use of facilities, physical layout etc. It is created specifically to represent the beliefs, values and meaning of the firm.
9. Unique metaphors and jargons
Business organizations with time, develop their unique metaphors and jargons that are used explicitly by its employees.
10. Shared beliefs
every organization has its unique values and beliefs that are shared by its members.
11. Behavioral norms
One of the essential elements of culture is behavioural norms. It is about the nature of expectations that a company has from its employees and the standards for their behaviour and interaction with each other in the company and customers of the company
This element reinforces the assumptions and cultural values of an organization.
Functions of culture
The various functions of culture are as follows-
- Culture creates a viable distinction between two organizations
- The culture encourages commitment to the workplace
- Culture boosts the stability of a social system
- Culture provides the employees with appropriate standards of behaviour and attitude in the organization
- Culture provides a distinctive identity for the employees working in an organization
- Culture defines goals, values and attitude
Culture is an expression that provides information about customs, goals, morals, values, attitude and outlook shared by a society. This complex concept has a direct and indirect impact on all aspects of human life and gives us a sense of belonging.