Culture can be interpreted differently by different people but the general meaning of culture can be defined as people’s way of life which is passed from one generation to another and also shared among other different societies. The world has very many different societies and each of these societies have their own way of life, their beliefs and norms. The activities that people involve themselves in and the beliefs they hold is what normally forms their culture.
These cultural beliefs are the ones that distinguish one society from other societies and therefore many societies hold their culture as a very important symbol of identification(Neil). This document discusses the general aspects and traits of different cultures. It also gives a detailed view of how this traits and aspects are communicated within the societies and also across to other societies The aspects of culture generally display the general way of life of most societies in the world. These aspects can be a useful base to compare how different societies in the world live.
One of the most prominent aspects of culture is the government structure of the societies and the international relation ships of this society with the outside world. Government within any society refers to the way the people in any society will make their laws and how these laws are enforced to the society. It also brings out the issues of leadership and how it is passed on to others within the society. All the societies in the world have different types of governments and the way one government is run is certainly not the same as the other society. The way laws are made and enforced is also independent among the different societies.
For example, the United States of America has its own way of making laws and enforcing them, which is different from the way the African countries or other European countries do it. The procedures that are followed in the US to elect a president are not the same as the procedures that will be followed in Australia, china, or any other country. The international relations between one country and other country are simply not the same. The way the government of UK relates with the government of Canada is not the same way it will relate to a country like Nigeria.
The international relations ships are different between one society and other all over the world (Shapiro, p25) . Another important aspect of culture is the economies of the societies and the resources available to them. The resources that are available to one society may not be available to another society. This can be due to different geographical locations which may favor some societies with better resources than others. For example, some societies in the world have natural resources while others do not have any natural resources. The resources available define a society’s way of earning a living.
For example some societies especially in the African continent have abundant natural resources and most of them may depend on agriculture for a living. Other countries such as Korea have to import the raw materials for their manufacturing industries. The resources available and the type of management will then define the type of economies the societies will have at the end of the day. The scarcity of resources within the different societies has for example brought about trade and this has formed a major characteristic of culture in the different societies(Benedict,p13).
The societies have different spiritual believes and this forms the basis of religion in the different societies. People within the societies have their own believes about the supernatural powers and this has given the society a clear definition of what to worship. For example the different societies in the world have different religions. While some societies believe in Christianity, others believe in Islamic, Hindu, cults among other religions. These beliefs affect the society’s way of life very differently. The way the Islamic religion dictates life is not the same as the Christianity.
Their practices and believes are different. The passing of these religions between the societies is also very different. While to some like Islam it is mandatory other societies find it a personal choice and therefore optional (Lull,p22) Literacy and technology is another aspect of culture. This aspect brings out the different ways in which different societies acquire education. For example how they attend school and the type of school curricula that is followed. The education system in most word societies are not the same.
The kind of technology that is incorporated in the school programs is very different from one society to another. Some societies such as western societies have more advanced technology than societies in the African context. What is taught in the school curricula is also different from one society to another. This eventually affects the types of societies that are finally brought up in future. Some of the societies are more technologically advanced that other societies in the world(Shapiro, p27) . Community and family life forms another part of the cultural aspect.
This gives an approach of how people live and how closely they are related to each other. This also defines the kind of housing that the individuals may live in. Different societies construct their houses differently according to their beliefs. While some societies believe in stone built houses, some societies may construct mud hoses thatched with grass. The shapes and finishing of the houses constructed by the different societies is also different owing to their beliefs. The way the societies are divided for example in terms of race, ethnicity, family among others is also very different.
This clearly means that the defined relationships between the family members in the societies are different. For example the way the younger people relate to the elders within the society is different across the world societies. The occasions and how they are celebrated within the societies is also very unique. For example they way the Chinese embrace their culture is not the same as then Indian society(Benedict, p17). The cultural arts and crafts within the societies are diversified. The arts that you will find in America are not the same as the arts in Asia.
All the societies in the world have their unique paintings, music, sculptures, and architecture. The way the societies make the pottery, carvings, baskets, mats and others is very different. The kind of music enjoyed by one culture is not the same as the other society. These cultural aspects are known to exist in every society. The only difference is that every society has a unique and independent way of approaching each aspect. Apart from the aspects of culture in the societies, another major characteristic of culture is its traits. All cultures across the different societies have common traits.
One of the cultural traits in the society is that culture is learned. All of us are born and raised in different societies. One is not born with the culture of any specific society. Individuals learn the culture of the society they are born in. If a child is born in a different culture from his parents, the child is likely to learn the culture of the second society and not that of his /her parents. Another trait of culture is that it is transmitted from one generation to another. People do not form other cultures when they are born.
Instead the older people normally pass the culture in their society to the younger generations within the same society(Neil). This reinforces and maintains culture within the societies. This is because, if a culture is not passed from one generation to the next, it is most likely that that culture will eventually die. The older people therefore normally hold the responsibility of teaching the younger people the beliefs , traditions, values and norms of the society. Culture is dependent on the world of symbols to communicate it from one generation to another.
This means that the methods used to pass culture in one society are basically similar as methods used in another society. The symbols that are normally relied upon by the societies are the verbal and non-verbal symbols of communication. Other symbols that may be used to communicate culture include icons and images. Change is another important trait of culture. This means that there is no one culture that is not subject to change. The culture that used to be followed by our great grand parents is not the same culture that we follow today.
As times change, people keep changing what they believe in and this eventually changes the culture of the society (Benedict, p18). Change of culture is normally subject to the various changes that occur in our daily lives. For example changes in the education systems, change in technological advancement of the society, discoveries and innovations that may occur as life progresses. All the societies have another important cultural trait of superiority over other cultures. This trait is referred to as ethnocentric. The societies believe that their norms, values and practices are superior and far much better than those of other societies.
This trait is a major source of conflict between societies since none of the societies will accept to be put down by another society. This trait helps the individuals within any particular society to feel proud of themselves and portray the positive image of their society. The final cultural trait in the societies is the adaptive nature of culture. As the world advances the changes that come with it must readily be acceptable within the societies. For example most cultures in the past regarded women as a weaker sex and their role in the society was very minimal.
As the technological advancement took ground, women have adapted different roles in the society and today they perform the roles that were previously referred as masculine roles. People keep adapting different styles of life as change is adapted within the cultural context of the societies (Neil). Culture is communicated using different methods within the society. Communication of culture is done through various methodologies of learning. Culture itself can be learnt consciously or unconscious. Unconscious methods include observation and practicing of what other people do within your culture.
The younger people may for example start dressing, singing and behaving like other people do within their society by just observing and imitating them. The conscious methods include reading about the culture and being taught by the older generation about your culture (Benedict, p23) Culture is taught to the younger generation through proverbs, folktales, myths folklore, art, music, poetry and mass media. Many are the times when our grand parents would tell stories related to our culture. The younger generation is then expected to behave in a manner that suits the lessons they learn from the stories and legends they hear.
Everything that we do in our lives, both in the verbal and non-verbal originates from what we learnt in our cultural back ground. Apart from the older generation, culture can also be learnt from other sources such as our families, teachers ,religious organizations and our peer groups. Within the family context, parents hold the sole responsibility of teaching their young ones how to behave in accordance to the society’s value and norms(Lull, p28). They introduce them to the religious education and also the formal education system. What a child starts learning from the beginning of child hood forms a big ground for the cultural beliefs.
For example, a child introduced to Islamic faith when very young and has grown believing in it would be very difficult to change and start believing in other religions such as Hindu or Christianity. In the institutions that we grow in, peer groups are likely to result and this forms another source where culture is learnt within the society. One is eager to learn what the other knows that he/she does not know and in this way we find that culture quickly passes to other individuals (Lull, p33). Culture is not only passed within the societies but it is passed to other societies.
This has become very common in today’s societies where we find that individuals do not strictly stick to the beliefs in their own society. This has resulted from the effects of globalization that takes place in the present world. Many societies today are very integrated in different aspects of life such as marriage, trade, education among others. With such integration we find that people start dressing like other societies, eating foods similar to other societies, appreciating arts and traditions of other societies among others. People learn about other cultures through adaptation of behaviors and norms of the society at interest.
Trade, media, intermarriages and education have become the best mechanisms of passing the cultures from one society to another (Toomey, p10) . In conclusion culture has the same general aspects and traits within the different societies across the world. The only difference is how these characteristics are interpreted in the different world societies. Culture is no longer viewed the same as it used to be in the past. Many individuals today do not know about their culture due to the adaptation of other societal cultures which is often mixed with the native culture.
This has given rise to societies with very diverse believes and many cultural conflicts within the society. Works cited Dennis O’Neil. (2007). Characteristics of Culture. Available from: http://anthro. palomar. edu/culture/culture_2. htm Harry Lionel Shapir. Aspects of Culture. Ayer Publishing, 1970, p23-56 Lull, J. Media, Communication, Culture: A global approach. New York, Columbia University Press, 1995, p16-34 Ruth Benedict Patterns of Culture. Mariner Books, 2005,p13-44 Ting Toomey, S. Communicating across cultures. New York, Guilford, 1999, p4-18
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