Culture can be defined to mean the knowledge and characteristics of a specific group of individuals, who are identified by nearly everything from religion, language, cuisine, music, social habits among many other elements that are used to define a category of people. In other words, culture contains all of the ideas, beliefs, behaviors, customs and traditions of a particular group of individuals or society, which are passed from one generation to the other. It is usually passed to the latest generations through the use language alongside behavior modeling mechanisms for purposes of defining behaviors and traits which are regarded as undesirable, desirable or important
The text from (Tomlinson, 2013), highlights various practices and norms that are expected within a specific culture. These cultural norms have the capacity to dictate the specific personality traits which are believed to be essential. As such, culture is an important, influential element on traits, as it defines those commonly valued attributes within a common setup. Of course, such traits might vary from one culture to the other based on unique needs, values, and beliefs. Both negative and positive traits are defined by cultural expectations; what may be considered a positive trait in a given culture may be regarded as negative one in another culture, hence leading to different personal expectations and expressions across cultures. For example, my culture accepts consumption of certain foods and diet (pork, for instance), which are not allowed in other cultures.
Cultures do not mean the same word as nations, countries or communities. Cultures do not have respect for laid political boundaries (Tomlinson, 2013). Therefore, from this text, culture refers to any of the following; Firstly, culture may be described to mean a population or community sufficiently big enough to sustain itself: meaning it should be able to produce more other generations without relying upon or borrowing from the outside group. In my culture, for instance, we believe that proper education and moral behaviors play a vital role in our success. As a result, we have the responsibility to educate our children, society in the hope of creating self-sustainability among our population. Secondly, culture may also mean the totality of the group’s beliefs, experiences, thoughts, behavioral patterns and its values, concepts and how they assume life with regards to behavioral evolution in contact with other different cultures. With regards to this point, my culture emphasizes on equality and respect for other people. The Christian life, for example, teaches us to treat everyone as equal before the Almighty God, who created everyone in his image and likeness. And therefore, we are not in any position to despise or discriminate against any other human creature irrespective of their color, race or ethnic group. Third, culture can be used to illustrate the social transformational process of behaviors and thoughts from birth in families and schools ranging across generations. Finally, culture can be simply put to refer to members identifying themselves with a particular group. Language and religion are some of the most common aspects we easily identify with in our culture.
Throughout our lives, we do not primarily have direct knowledge concerning other cultures except that of our own. The knowledge and experiences that we have had with other cultures have limitations based on the perceptions of being biased to our respective cultures (Adler, 2008). For instance, an adult American would not fully understand the nature and experience of growing up an Australian. Culture is never generic in nature, but all cultural elements are learned during interactions with others of the same culture. For instance, the dressing styles, types of foods, family structures and marriage customs are followed in our culture, so it would be easy to identify someone who is not naturally a product of our culture.
On the other hand, as pointed out in (Adler, 2008), multiculturalism has continually been contrasted with other concepts of assimilations. It has been termed a “cultural mosaic” or “mixed salad” This case does not necessarily imply that everyone from the society identifies with various cultures. For example, many people speak more than one language, share more than one culture with other categories of people with whom we interact. Individuals living near border areas and countries like Australia, South Africa and parts of the USA, where immigrants from various nations built their respective cultures, do have varied cultures. Multiculturalism takes shape whenever one starts developing abilities to understand ‘foreigners’ in manners that those ‘foreigners’ know i.e. according to the standards of those foreigners. Multicultural ideology is the overall evaluation by the majority category which is addressing the extent to which they gain positive attitudes towards cultural diversity and immigration (Adler, 2008).
Culture examination through literature offer varied ways of interpreting the world and the environment, alongside mechanisms of relating to other people. To be able to recognize that someone else can view the world in a different way is just but one thing. To be able to consider how they interpret it as being more or less perfect/imperfect when compared to our own interpretations is yet another thing altogether. To understand a culture, we need to understand those experiences which guide particular group members throughout their lives. Key aspects to learn include; language, gestures, social relationships, personal appearance, philosophy, religion, values, marriage, courtship, food, recreation, family customs, health, transportation, government systems, education, communication and economic systems. Culture is viewed as the things that we know and can do so that we are not portrayed as strangers living in foreign lands.
Tomlinson, J. (2013). Globalization and Cultural Identity. The Global Transformations Reader, 2, 269-277.
Adler, P. S. (2008). Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism. Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication: Selected readings, 225-245.