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Characteristics of culture Essay

Culture is beliefs and values that are shared and influences effectiveness, they interact with formal structure to get behavioral norm. It is shared basic assumptions that are learned when solving problems of internal integration and external adaptation. There has been evolution of pattern of values, rites, practices, rituals and symbols. Culture is pattern of activities of human beings and symbolic structures that show significance of these activities. Characteristics of culture Culture is learned where its values can be transferred into institutions by means of social interaction and exposure to mass media.

This exposure is very important because it reaches everybody and creates awareness about values and beliefs that are shared and no one can lack access to information. A purposeful culture offers order and gives direction and guides in solving behavior of human being because there is a given direction to be followed by every one and proper means of solving human behavior. The beliefs and practice must be common to the society because culture is shared. Members of the same society must have the same culture and share in the beliefs and practices that are set by the society.

Culture is cumulative because, it is passed from one generation to another and each new generation is aware of the culture it is supposed to follow. This makes culture have a very strong historical and traditional relevance. (Barry, 2002 pp. 11-17) Culture is dynamic. In case of any change in society, it is able to adapt quickly. This is very important because the world is dynamic and changes can not be avoided at any given time and most of times changes are for the better due to innovations and changes in technology.

Culture is perceived based on what we experience, hear or see. Therefore, we should be careful on what we experience, see with our own eyes or hear because it can affect our beliefs either positively or negatively. Culture considers how members perceive things but not whether they like it or not. Sources of culture Culture is transmitted from one person to another through stories containing narrative of events and things like breaking of rules, reaction of past mistakes where one is disciplined after a mistake is done and the punishment available to wrongdoers.

The stories are true but are not meant to link past events with present events but only provide an explanation of the performance of events in order to justify practices that are used currently. Culture can come from rituals which are sequence of activities that repeat themselves in order to reinforce key values. The important goals of the firm, ceremonies for recognition and awards and annual picnics are all considered as rituals. In higher learning institutions, the way academic graduates dress and academic procession are the rituals that reinforce great value and beliefs.

Material symbols can reflect the seriousness of organization and the quality of product and service which reflect organization personality. The facilities layout of offices and buildings and the way of dressing of employees and the cars driven by the superiors are material symbols. Some places have large well organized offices for their staff and allow staff to be members of clubs and reserve places where managers park their vehicles. Symbols create corporate identity by making workers feel special although those who are not recognized may have negative effect.

(Castells, 1999 pp. 15-20) Language can be used to identify members who belong to a particular culture. By learning the language, people show that they accept the language and culture and are ready top preserve it. In computer companies, there is unique language that is used to describe equipments and key personnel. New employee require more time to learn the language and coding system and once everyone learns the language, it is used as a key denominator that unites members to given culture.

Culture as civilization The idea of culture developed in Europe in early 19th century and reflected itself in inequalities in European societies, powers and colonies in the world. Culture is identified with civilization and contrasted with nature. Some countries are taken to be more civilized than others and some people are more cultured compared to others. Cultural theorists eliminate mass culture from meaning of culture. Culture is what is thought about and said and popular culture is contrasted with anarchy.

This is the account in which culture is linked closely with human behavior and pursuit of perfection by knowing all matters that concerns us. (Galbraith, 1992 pp. 10-16) In practice, caliber arts, museum and classical music are referred to as culture and the term cultured means the people who know these activities and take part in them. There has been contrast between lowest and highest culture but stress has been put in sophistication and refinement of high culture being corrupting and human developments which are not natural and distorting nature of human beings.

Folk music produced by people who are working express natural life and classical music is superficial. Indigenous people are taken to be noble savages who live authentic lives and are uncorrupted by capitalists system. Many social scientists do not like monadic culture and opposing culture to the nature and non-elites are cultured just like elites. Symbols are social actor’s practices and the meaning of such practices. Social actors have common symbols of communication to be able to understand one another while the same symbols have personal meaning and importance.

Symbols limit cultured thoughts and culture members use symbols in framing their thoughts and expressing themselves in intelligible terms because culture is made possible, readable and reproducible by use of symbols. (Poster, 1990 pp. 23-27) Mass media culture Culture is very significant to mass media because it is integrated pattern of belief, human knowledge and behavior which includes ideas, beliefs, codes, tools, institutions and ceremonies. Social paradigm and culture refers to specific society and a specified time.

This means that, there is change from time to time and from place to place. Therefore, there is no theory to determine relationship that exists between culture and economic or political elements in a society. The starting point is rejecting versions of crude economists and sophisticated versions that determine elements that are dominant in social formation. Elements which are dominant in social formation can not be determined by economic base but are determined only by creative act, that is, whether the outcome is of social praxis of social individual’s activities.

Theocratic society’s dominant element was cultural and society existed as socialism. In market economies, after introduction of new system in commercial society during industrial revolution, dominant elements in markets economies were also economic. Means of production was controlled by private ownership which led to economy which was socially controlled and market played major role in market economies due to fundamental self regulating systems and are solved by price mechanism rather than by use of social decisions.

Interdependence is the relationship between elements with economic element dominating. There are differences that exist between social paradigm and culture because the scope of culture is great and expresses ideas and values that are not necessarily consistent with dominant institutions and characterizes market economy arts and literature where there is significant freedom given to writers and artists to be able to express their own views freely.

But in dominant social paradigm the values and beliefs in market society must be consistent with economic elements where economic institutions that determine dominant elites are economic elites who control production. Society can not be able to reproduce itself without dominant beliefs and ideas which are consistent with institutional framework. For example, the social paradigm which is dominant is supposed to be dominant with political elements and political institutions which determine party bureaucracy.

The future democratic society corresponds with democratic institutions to ensure there are no formal elites in the society though democracies can not function well without informal elites. (Baudrillard, 1988 pp. 44-47) Mass media produces reality and does not fake things. Mass media does not manipulate democracy because it is democracy which is faked and not the picture of mass media and this shows the reality of current democracy and defines political reality provided by mass media.

Furthermore, there can be distorted picture provided by mass media when reported about what causes crisis conflict between different sections of elites. This is where they show the picture which the sections that control them may want to reproduce. For example the media in Anglo-American distorted meaning of Iraqi criminal bombardment in 1998. During the Gulf war, there was distortion of what caused the conflict such as who would be in control of oil in the world with legumes of peace loving between the north and south regimes.

Under circumstances like this, mass media is the only one that can tell the truth of the reality when there is division between elites on the way they take political reality. Mass media is very significant whether it is owned by few people or many in order to help in struggle aiming at social change. For example, division among European elites to join monetary union have led to great discussion by the media on meaning of European integration in Britain where there was split of elites.

Similar divisions existed between European and Anglo-American over the Gulf crime which was criminal role of supporters of bombardments. About economic reality, there is accurate picture provided by mass media on economic reality today. In this case, the media take market economy for granted ending up with partial picture of reality in the economy where what matters most is whether there is rise or fall in prices, rate of exchange, profits and interest rates. Mass media is not able to see economic problems such as unemployment and poverty and end up faking economic reality.

The media is simply able to reflect views of professional politicians, bankers and orthodox economists. (Baudrillard, 1990 pp. 27-31) REFERENCES Barry B. (2002): culture and equality: Ingenta connect pp. 11-17. Baudrillard J. (1988): selected writings: policy press pp44-47. Baudrillard J. (1990): mass media culture, in the revenge of the crystal: Pluto press pp27-31. Castells M. (1999): society and culture: Sage pub pp15-20. Galbraith J. (1992): the culture of contentment: Danny reviews pp10-16. Poster M. (1990): Baudrillard and TV in the mode of information: polity pp23-27.


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