We explain what culture is and what types of culture exist. In addition, its characteristics, the elements of a culture and examples.

Beliefs are a fundamental element in cultures.

What is culture?

Culture is the set of elements and characteristics of a certain community human. It includes aspects such as customs, traditions, the norms and the way of a group to think about itself, to communicate and to build a society.

The word "culture" is a broad term that comes from the Latin word cultus, in turn derived from colere, that is to say, “take care of the fields and the cattle”, which nowadays is known as “cultivating”. The Roman thinker Cicero (1st century BC) used the term animi culture ("Cultivate the spirit") to refer metaphorically to the work of making human wisdom flourish.

Culture encompasses aspects such as religion, the moral, the Arts, the protocol, the law, the history and the economy of a certain group. The term is used to refer to the different manifestations of the human being and, according to some definitions, everything that is created by humans is culture.

Characteristics of culture

Some characteristics of the culture are:

  • It uses human creation and production.
  • It is generated and shared by a group of society, according to geographical, social or economic aspects.
  • It is dynamic, so it changes and mutates according to the needs of the group.
  • It is diverse, there is no single universal culture, but there are many types of cultures according to different criteria.
  • It is learned by the members of a group.
  • It uses both material and immaterial elements.
  • It is passed from generation to generation.

Elements of culture

The customs are part of the culture.

Every culture is made up of six basic elements:

  • Values. They are criteria that determine what is desirable in a society. These values ​​guide the behavior of individuals of a certain culture and are the basis of norms.
  • Rules and sanctions. It is the regulations by which companies are governed, either explicitly (the legal), protocol or subjectively. There are many types of standards (such as legal, religious or moral) and, in many cases, non-compliance is grounds for sanction.
  • Beliefs It is the set of ideas shared by the members of a culture about the human being, its purpose and the universe. These beliefs usually guide the actions of individuals.
  • Symbols. They are emblems, forms or signs that contain a meaning within a culture and that represent its model of life, its beliefs, its customs and its ancestral tradition.
  • Language. It is the shared code that allows individuals to communicate through the speaks, of the body or of the writing.
  • Technology. Are the knowledge that are applied in a discipline to improve procedures or the production of goods and services. The great technological revolutions brought profound cultural changes.

Types of culture

Cultures can be divided on the basis of their religious roots.

Culture can be classified according to different criteria. Some are:

According to the socioeconomic aspect:

  • Elite culture. It is one that is sustained from the highest spheres of power within a society.
  • Popular culture. It is the set of manifestations and cultural elements typical of a people.
  • Mass culture. It is made up of cultural assets that are presented by the masive means of comunication and accessed by a large portion of the population.

According to the use of writing:

  • Oral or agraphic cultures. They are those who did not know writing and used the oral form to transmit and preserve their traditions.
  • Literate cultures. They are those that arose after the invention of writing and that use this tool to transmit the traits of their culture from generation to generation.

According to religion:

  • Theistic cultures. They are those who believe in a higher divinity and are usually: monotheists (when they believe in a single divinity) or polytheists (when they believe in more than one divinity).
  • Non-theistic cultures. They are those who do not believe in a superior divinity, but rather give power to other forces, such as the forces of nature.

According to the way of production:

  • Nomadic cultures. They are those that do not settle permanently in a geographical place, but move their settlement according to the availability of food or work.
  • Urban culture. They are those that are developed in cities and they tend to base their economy on activities such as Commerce and services. Its inhabitants share traits and lifestyles.
  • Rural cultures. They are those sedentary type cultures that settle in rural zones and base their economy on activities such as farming and the cattle raising. These groups share their own traditions, customs and traits.

According to the geopolitical distribution:

  • Global culture. It is one that occurs in a very wide geographic space and the terms are often used within this category: Western culture, that shared by countries and groups in the Western Hemisphere; and oriental culture, that shared by the countries located in the eastern hemisphere.
  • Regional culture. It is the culture shared by the countries that make up a region and which have common features, such as Latin America.
  • National culture. It is one that develops within a certain Condition, in which its inhabitants share values ​​and symbols.
  • Local culture It is one that develops in smaller portions of territory, in which individuals share traits and customs.

Importance of culture and cultural diversity

Culture is created by the human being and is present in social groups, so that all individuals are affected and challenged by it. Culture is important because it brings identity to people and a sense of belonging. It is through it that the individual expresses himself, incorporates a lifestyle, shares and relates to his peers.

Culture includes tangible and intangible assets, which are creations that reflect the values ​​of a society and are embodied in artistic forms, such as music, art, literature, the dance, the architecture, the gastronomy, among many others.

There are different cultures with their own traits in all regions of the world and this is known as cultural diversity. The relationship and harmonious coexistence between the different cultures that share a time or space is important, because it generates an exchange of ways of life and creations that leads to the enrichment of different societies.

Cultural heritage

Cultural heritage is made up of all those assets created by humans throughout history, which, due to their importance or influence, seek to be preserved so that they can be appreciated by future generations.

The set of assets that make up the heritage is usually listed by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), which is an organization that establishes bases for the care and protection of heritage. Heritage usually includes both material goods, such as buildings, utensils, crafts and works of art, as well as intangible goods, such as festivities, rituals, music, among others.

The conservation of the cultural heritage of humanity is essential to take care of those human creations that are relevant and that are expected to be appreciated and studied by the following generations.

Examples of culture

Some examples of culture are:

  • Chinese culture. It is the culture of China, an Asian country and one of the oldest nations in the Earth. It is characterized by its own features such as its gastronomy, its philosophical stances, its Languages and their religions.
  • European culture. It is the culture that identifies the values ​​of the European region. In ancient times this term was used because Europe it functioned as the cultural, technological and commercial center of the ancient world.
  • Pre-Columbian cultures. It is the set of American civilizations prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the European colonization. Some of these cultures are the mexicas (Aztecs), the incas, the Tainos and the Caribs.
  • Culture 2.0. It is the culture of Internet and of the social networks, and encompasses all interactions that occur on virtual platforms and applications.
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