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Creature of culture Essay

“If man created culture then how can man be a creature of culture?”

There are millions of people on this planet, and part of anthropology is to categorize these millions into smaller, well-defined groups. These groups are divided based on language, country of residence, race and other characteristics, which differentiate one group of people from another. They are labeled as cultures, and characterized by many anthropologists as having a set of learned behaviors, morals, customs and ideas that they share as members of a particular society (Grolier’s Encyclopedia, 1998). The problem is that cultures are diverse, population move in and out of countries bringing the influences of other cultures. A single country may vary from border to border due to the influences of its neighbors.

There are also variations in culture, which depend on class or caste. In the movie Caste at Birth it is established that an individual cannot change their caste, and although status is socially defined, the relative importance of that status is a matter of opinion. Factors such as environment or an individual event can change aspects of culture. Furthermore, there is no definition that would successfully demonstrate that man is a creature of culture. Language and communication are critical elements in a culture. Through the use of language, we express our beliefs, expectations and standards. A person cannot fully understand a culture without fully understanding the language of that culture.

Essentially, without fully understanding a language, or by speaking variations of the same language, one will experience the culture differently and may create a sub-culture of beliefs. These beliefs may be close, but not identical to those of the greater population. Since social identity is learned through language, individuals who speak Gaelic regularly are going to establish a social identity that varies with those who speak English. In the aforementioned definition of culture, emphasis has been placed on the word “shared”, but clearly not all individuals share the same learned behaviors and ideas.

Education and communication are often interrelated with many other factors, such as class. In every culture, education is directly related to class. Simply put, the higher classes have better education. Evidently, communication is key to understanding and interpreting the normsĀ and concepts of any given culture. Since there are so many different levels on which individuals can communicate, it is not feasible that everyone is learning the same behaviors and ideas, even when they are immersed in the same culture.

Individuals in a culture share many similar behaviors beyond those, which are innate, however, there are always exceptions. Such instances are the behaviors of an individual who is mentally challenged or those of a criminal. The behaviors of a criminal break social rules, and as a result, they are punished. Some of these behaviors are psychological, but others are learned. Not everyone in a culture is treated identically by peers and caregivers. It was previously mentioned that education differs from one class to the next. It is not only institutionalized education that differs, but also the learning that goes on through the performance of daily tasks. Human beings are social creatures and individual’s behaviors and ideas develop through socializing with a variety of sources on a daily basis. Humans are not born knowing who they are, they have the ability to change and interact with their environment to become all different kinds of people depending on their culture.


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