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Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine,
social habits, music and arts. Today, in the United States as in other countries populated largely by immigrants, the
culture is influenced by the many groups of people that now make up the country.
Jazz music, which originated in the United States, has spread to other cultures. In this photo, the Soil & Pimp
Sessions band plays at the Jazzystan Festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The term Western culture has come to define the culture of European countries as well as those such as the United
States that have been heavily influenced by European immigration. Western culture has its roots in the Classical
Period of the Greco-Roman era and the rise of Christianity in the 14th century.
Other drivers of the Western culture include Latin, Celtic, Germanic and Hellenic ethnic and linguistic groups.
Today, the influences of Western culture can be seen in almost every country in the world.
Eastern culture was heavily influenced by religion. This giant statue of Buddha overlooks Hong Kong.
Eastern culture generally refers to the societal norms of countries in Far East Asia (includingChina, Japan, Vietnam,
North Korea and South Korea) and the Indian subcontinent. Like the West, Eastern culture was heavily influenced
by religion during its early development. In general, in Eastern culture there is less of a distinction between secular
society and religious philosophy than there is in the West.
Many of the Spanish-speaking nations are considered part of the Latin culture, while the geographic region is
widespread. Latin America is typically defined as those parts of the Central America, South America and Mexico
where Spanish or Portuguese are the dominant languages. While Spain and Portugal are on the European continent,
they are considered the key influencers of what is known as Latin culture, which denotes people using languages
derived from Latin, also known as Romance languages.
The El-Deir Monastery at Petra, Jordan, is an example of traditional Middle Eastern culture.
Middle Eastern culture
The countries of the Middle East have some but not all things in common, including a strong belief in Islam and
religion is a very strong pillar of this society. The Arabic language is also common throughout the region; however,
the wide variety of dialect can sometimes make communication difficult.
The continent of Africa is essential two cultures — North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. The continent is
comprised of a number of tribes, ethnic and social groups. One of the key features of this culture is the large number
of ethnic groups — some countries can have 20 or more — and the diversity of their beliefs
Northwest Africa in particular has strong ties to European and Southwestern Asia. The area also has a heavy Islamic
influence and is a major player in the Arab world.
The harsh environment has been a large factor in the development of Sub-Saharan Africa culture, as there are a
number of languages, cuisines, art and musical styles that have sprung up among the far-flung populations.
As Homo sapiens, evolved, several biological characteristics particularly favorable to the development of culture
appeared in the species. These included erect posture; a favorable brain structure; stereoscopic vision; the structure
of the hand, a flexible shoulder; and year round sexual receptivity on the part of the female. None of these biological
characteristics alone, of course, accounts for the development of culture. Even in combination, all they guarantee is
that human beings would be the most gifted members of the animal kingdom.
The distinctive human way of life that we call culture did not have a single definite beginning in time any more than
human beings suddenly appearing on earth. Culture evolved slowly just as some anthropoids gradually took on more
human form. Unmistakably, tools existed half a million years ago and might be considerably older. If, for
convenience, we say that culture is 500,000 years old, it is still difficult day has appeared very recently.
The concept of culture was rigorously defined by E.B. Taylor in 1860s. According to him culture is the sum total of
ideas, beliefs, values, material cultural equipments and non-material aspects which man makes as a member of
society. Taylor's theme that culture is a result of human collectivity has been accepted by most anthropologists.
Tylarian idea can be discerned in a modern definition of culture - culture is the man-made part of environment (M.J.
From this, it follows that culture and society are separable only at the analytical level: at the actual existential level,
they can be understood as the two sides of the same coin. Culture, on one hand, is an outcome of society and, on the
other hand, society is able to survive and perpetuate itself because of the existence of culture. Culture is an ally of
man in the sense that it enhances man's adaptability to nature. It is because of the adaptive value of culture that
Herskovits states that culture is a screen between man and nature. Culture is an instrument by which man exploits
the environment and shapes it accordingly.
In showing affection, the Maori rub noses; the Australians rub faces; the Chinese place nose to cheeks; the
Westerners kiss; some groups practice spitting on the beloved. Or, consider this; American men are permitted to
laugh in public but not to cry; Iroquois men are permitted to do neither in public; Italian men are permitted to do
both. Since this is true, physiological factors have little to do with when men laugh and cry and when they do not do
either. The variability of the human experience simply cannot be explained by making reference to human biology,
or to the climate and geography. Instead, we must consider culture as the fabric of human society.
Culture can be conceived as a continuous, cumulative reservoir containing both material and non-material elements
that are socially transmitted from generation to generation. Culture is continuous because cultural patterns transcend
years, reappearing in successive generations. Culture is cumulative because each generation contributes to the
An inherent paradox exists within the social heritage where culture tends to be both static and dynamic. Humans,
once having internalized culture, attach positive value judgments to it and are more or less reluctant to change their
established ways of life. Through most of recorded history men have apparently considered that change per say is
undesirable and that the ideal condition is stability. The prospect of change can seem threatening, yet every human
culture is subject to and does experience change. Those who speak of a generation gap portray two generations at
odds with each other. According to this view, the parent generation embodied the dynamic dimension. We contend
that if, in fact, a generation gap does exist in modern societies, and the differences are of degree and not of
substance. Part of the social heritage of almost every modern society is the high value placed on progress. Parents
encourage young people to seek progress, and progress is a form of social change. Debates between generations in
modern societies are seldom about whether any change should occur. The debates are usually about how such
change should occur, how fast it should occur, and which methods should be used for bringing about change.