What Is Culture?

“Culture” refers to the customs, practices, values, beliefs, customs, arts, skills, and knowledge of the people in those communities. The definition of culture is a loose umbrella term that can encompass both vast gaps in time and wide spans of variation within cultures. For some scholars, it defines a shared heritage, while others look for cultures as living practices. Still others believe that culture is the interaction of people who live within the same social and cultural milieu and have a common heritage, language, and history. This article presents a simplified version of how culture is understood by the many cultures and ethnic communities that make up contemporary human communities.

Most people do not associate “culture” with any single definition. For instance, in the United States, culturally distinct groups often identify with specific ethnic or cultural backgrounds, while in other countries, entire nations or regions practice widely differing forms of culture. Within a country or region, different cultures may be distinguished by religion, ethnicity, social classes, or political orientation. There are also a variety of symbols used to identify specific cultures, such as flags, jewelry, and even words or phrases.

Within a broad spectrum of global cultures, some specific areas of the world feature overlapping cultural influences from several different traditions, while other areas show significant cultural differences. It’s a good idea to examine your cultural identity and compare it with the opinions and actions of other people from various cultures. You might also want to review the beliefs and attitudes of other individuals from different cultural backgrounds. While these tests can provide interesting results, they should only be used as a starting point. In the end, you must develop your own personal definitions of culture, as everyone has a unique view of what culture is.