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The Characteristics of Culture

Christopher F. Bueno is currently the Dean of the College of Education, University of Northern Philippines, Vigan City.

The characteristics of culture are shared; group products; symbolic; learned; patterned; integrated; adaptive; compulsory; cumulative; dynamic and diverse.

1. It is shared.

The culture is shared by the social interaction may take in many forms to transmit the beliefs, values and expectation of the human society. The exchange of social ideas may provide understanding and learning the human culture and tradition.

The culture works by social dynamism using language, communication technologies and commercial trade.

a) The use of language as a form of social communications such as group communication, informal communications, discussion and public speaking. The sharing of information is done through the transmittal of knowledge .The use of language or dialect may transmit information to the group of people that may later on learn and understand the culture, tradition, beliefs and expectations of a given society. The common human activities are the grapevine information, social occasions, and public debates.

b) The use of communication technologies through powerful media tools such as computers, televisions, DVD and cell phones. The modern technologies have gradually exposed universal culture that can easily transmit with mass media. The ethnic traditions and cultures are documentarily televised by cable programs such as national geographic or discovery channels. The modern fashion and fads of the western culture becomes the basis of global design in clothing for different occasions.

c) The commercial trade and global enterprises provide the better social exchange through the manufactured goods and services provide in the public and private enterprise. These technological change given the opportunity to sell products that are now fuse in the modern living of the human society.

The traditional concept of shared culture emphasizes the ethnic traditions, beliefs, norms and other social activities that may be transmitted by the elders and parents in the family and the tribe. However, the modern life has changed so many things in the sharing of the universal culture for all.

2. It is a group product.

The group product is the by-product of culture is shared by the social activities of the society. The group products provide important knowledge and experiences about the racial and ethnic activities.

It is the result of lifelong social experience made by those living in certain communities that governed by the family of elders. They formed tribe with their own cultures and traditions that have been dependent in hunting, fishing, and agriculture. The culture and tradition are passed on to the succeeding generation by educating the children from all the social life activities of the tribe.

Generally, the group product usually done by cultural diffusion, innovation and amalgamation of cultures.

a) The group product is made through the social interaction among the members of the group to form a unique life in a given geographical location. The social life has always imbibed the unique contribution of individual life. This is adjusted by the geographical conditions to ensure a better life.

b) The group product is multi-dimension activities that provide the understanding and learning the elements of culture such as values, beliefs, norms, language, folkways, mores, laws, material culture and technology. The complexities of culture have been integrated to form part the universal human society

c) The group products primarily use language and education of the offspring to ensure the survival of the culture and tradition of the tribe. The transmission of culture is done by giving informal and formal education.

3. It is learned.

The cultural transmission or enculturation is the best way to describe culture is learned. The people acquire information about the culture by many ways. This is done by learning the language and other form of educational information of the society.

a) The members of the group learn to understand and apply certain ideals, values, expectations, beliefs and traditions to the society.

b) The younger generations readily accept the norms of the society as a part of their education to sustain the societal system within their family or tribe.

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c) The culture is also learned by the language, literature, arts, music and local history that are passed across generation.

Usually, it is through formal and informal education that the culture is transmitted across generation. The parents provide the early education of their children from the way they live in the family and society. The social influence taken from their friends and relatives including their actual experiences provides the actual learning on a given societal culture. Modern society learns the culture by the formal education from varied levels such as the basic education and tertiary education. However, the advent of modern technology the culture is easily learned through mass media and internet.

4. It is Symbolic.

The communication process uses symbols to identify the given actions, attitudes and behaviors of the people.

a) The use of language has varied types of symbols depending on its natural environment, exposure and education to groups or tribes, the social experience and influence.

b) The social experiences as a whole provides specific communicative symbols along arts, music, literature, history and other forms of societal actions.

c) The abstract knowledge is reinforce in the way they understand and learn the feelings, ideas and behaviors of certain group of people in the society.

5. It is patterned and integrated

The culture is patterned by specific dimension of social life such as the economic and political activities. These are the norms of conformity for the human beings to follow in order to meet the psychological and social needs. The social activities

a)The economic activities are patterned by the innovation and inventions of cultural groups that need to be integrated by the social life of the members of the society.

b) There are activities that we always do such as going to toilet, washing the hands, cleaning the house, driving the car, going to bedroom and etc. We tend to follow certain habits that are patterned by specific culture of a given society. Remember that the American way of life maybe totally different to the Africans and Asian way of life.

c) There are cultural values that are patterned to be followed to live on specific group of people with unique cultures that individual must also follow to integrated similar social life.

6. Culture is adaptive

The cultural adaptation is the evolutionary process that modifies the social life of the people in the given natural environment.

1. The social evolutionary process is created by the condition of the natural environment that human being constantly adapting on any changes.

2. The biological modifications and adjustments are always flexible to adapt even in the harsh conditions of the environment.

3. The human adaptations uses innovative way to create new cultural dimension on its way of life from the cultural transformation of clothing, food shelter, music, arts including the beliefs, traditions and history.

7. Culture is compulsory.

The human beings always consider the harmonious relationship with any of group cultures being grown for a period of time.

1. The group members of the conformed with the ways of living within the bounds of beliefs, expectation, and norms.

2. The behavioral conformity is expected to follow any violations within the norms have specific sanctions as to the provisions of law or even a given set of norms in the social context.

3. The social interaction of man follows the collective activities with common goals including specific norms, traditions, and beliefs which is followed as a blueprint of its distinct cultural existence in the society.

8. Culture is cumulative.

The cumulative culture may be passed from one generation to the next generation. Those pertinent knowledge and culture are gradually built as it is useful to the society. However, those information that no longer useful to the society may gradually phased out.

9. Culture is dynamic.

There is continuous change of culture as new ways of life evolved by the changing conditions of the societal life. There are cultural practices that no longer useful today.

10. Culture is diverse.

The culture is different from each other as we must consider the social experiences, traditions, norms, mores and other cultural ways in the community.



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You can research a comprehensive information about " THE CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURE" in this book - Socio-Anthr0: Sociology ad Anthropology,


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