Tag Archives: anthropology

Defining Culture

Culture (Latin: cultura, lit. “cultivation”)[1] is a modern concept based on a term first used in classical antiquity by the Roman orator, Cicero: “cultura animi”. The term “culture” appeared first in its current sense in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, to connote a process of cultivation or improvement, as in agriculture or horticulture. In the 19th century, the term developed to refer first to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education, and then to the fulfillment of national aspirations or ideals.

In the 20th century, “culture” emerged as a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of human phenomena that cannot be attributed to genetic inheritance. Specifically, the term “culture” in American anthropology had two meanings:

(1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively;

(2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively.[3]

Hoebel describes culture as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance.[4]

Culture can be defined as the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization. These shared patterns identify the members of a culture group while also distinguishing those of another group. [2]

The main aspects of a culture can be divided as follows:
Language (and dialects)
Religion (spirituality)
Technology 
Cuisine
Aesthetics (art, music, litterature, fashion and architecture),
Values and ideology,
Social conventions (norms, taboos, etiquette)
Gender roles
Recreational activities (holidays, festivals, etc)
Commercial practices
Social structures

The human expressions, percieved as a culture, can take place in so many ways, shapes and forms… the followings are some examples (some include others)

folklore, myths, epics, legends, tales, books, poems, riddles, traditions, beliefs, lore, use of plants, cuisine, celebrations, festivals, carnivals, rites, dances, chants, hymns, clothings, embroidery, jewelry, ornaments, architecture, carvings, city organisation, behaviors, rituals, ceremonies, mores, customs, norms, taboos, etiquette  …and what else ?

 

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