Culture is an umbrella phrase that encompasses the traditional practices and norms observed in various human cultures, the ideas, beliefs, art, customs, laws, manners, skills, and languages of the people in these cultures. It also involves the types of materials used by the people in these cultures, their valuation of language and literary creativity, and their ability to make the most of their time and resources. In fact, the present-day culture is very diverse, because it is found in all parts of the world. Some of its most profound effects are seen in politics, education, business, law, healthcare, and technology. However, the study of culture can also be traced back to the very beginnings of humanity.
The word culture comes from the Greek word kinesis which means “folk-culture.” It is believed that the various distinct cultures which speak the same language and share certain customs were produced out of a common ancestry which came from Africa, Asia, and Europe. Although some believe that all of these different cultures are biologically derived, others believe that they are culturally influenced by social factors such as religion, art, or language. Nevertheless, some critics argue that culture is nothing more than the particular way of acting that people from one culture choose to do, while other people believe that culture is more important because it determines what the laws are and how they are applied, which determines how people behave and how they interact with each other. The belief is that culture has significant effects on human choices and human actions.
Two broad schools of thought exist concerning the question of which is the greater authority on determining what culture is. The first school of thought concerns itself with the meaning and importance of culture, considering that any given culture contains both a history and a living tradition. According to this school, culture is the accumulated results of social life, with a particular culture providing certain advantages which other cultures do not have. Another school of thought considers culture as the set of beliefs about life, art, language, and family which a people have come to consider as being true. The main difference between these two views is that the first group regards culture as something that has lived up to time and the second believes that culture is something which has been created over time by humans in their social interactions.
One of the most interesting questions concerning the relationship between culture and beliefs is the answer to what exactly is considered to be a culture. Beliefs in general are a matter of interpretation. We may believe that poverty is a culture, while another may hold that the wealthy are very rich. Differences in interpretation often arise from differences in what is considered to be a culture. If an African culture is considered to be a culture, then other cultures that have come to occupy the same area may not be so clearly seen as being a culture, even if they are neighbors within a region that shares a border. While there are some areas where there are clearly cultural differences, there are still many points where there are strong overlaps in values and beliefs.
Within modern society, several different schools of thought have attempted to define what a culture is. Most social scientists agree that a culture is a common way of organizing human behavior within a community. By extension, this means that all people living in a community share similar beliefs about how life should be organized, how social norms should be formed, how property should be shared, how religion should be practiced, and so on. While there is certainly overlap in these shared patterns among various cultures, the exact nature of culture is more difficult to pinpoint.
The reality is that the relationship between culture and beliefs is a complex one. While many individuals have a general sense of what is a culture, sociologists have spent the past half century developing theories that attempt to explain why people have different cultural traits and how those traits link to larger patterns of behavior. Although the exact mechanisms through which cultural traits and beliefs produce different outcomes are not completely understood, there is broad agreement among social scientists that culture plays a significant role in the formation of individual and group identity. Thus, while religion may not be a main driver behind why some people are more prosperous than others, religion has been found to play a large part in why certain groups of people are more successful than others. This makes it a fruitful theory for any business that wishes to promote individual achievement as well as understanding why specific behaviors are prevalent in certain locations and the effects these behaviors have on an individual’s self-image.