The Concept of Culture
Culture is a broad umbrella phrase that encompasses the rich varied cultural practices and norms observed in human societies, the beliefs, skills, laws, customs, arts, values, and institutions of the people in these communities. It is used to refer to the history and the heritage of a particular society or region. It also encompasses the values, beliefs, arts and sciences that pervade the lives of all members of a society. A strong cultural tradition is the key to understanding human culture; it is the shared heritage that determines the relationships between individuals, groups, and communities, regardless of race, tribe, or gender.
There are two types of cultural identity: one is the social culture, which refers to the beliefs, norms, values, arts, and sciences that hold and guide the social life of a society; the other is the individual cultural identity, which regards the beliefs, norms, arts, sciences, and values that guide an individual’s life. The shared norms and values between the various cultural identities result in differences in the quality of life and the level of development of individuals. Differences in the quality of life refer to differences in basic human needs and aspects such as health, education, social security, work style, material possessions, and the like. On the other hand, differences in the level of development refer to differences in the ability to learn and adapt to a society. Thus, while a society with a strong cultural identity enjoys high levels of economic prosperity and material comfort, there are some regions of the world where people have limited social status and are unable to enjoy these advantages. The differences in the level of development result in significant variation in the level of cultural diversity.
The term “culture” was first used by Christopher H. Shotbolt in his book The Concept of Culture. According to him, culture is “the manner in which people generally, and consciously, relate to their environment and each other.” Furthermore, he maintained that culture is the result of socialization that occurs through contact with a number of external factors such as language, literature, ritual, and customs. Cultural beliefs and behaviors also shape interaction in a community, the value of which is determined by the extent of acceptance and tolerance of that community by members.