Culture is the set of knowledge and characteristic traits that distinguish a society, a certain era or a social group.
The term culture, as it has evolved in society, is associated with progress and values.
Evolution of the concept of culture
To understand this concept, as well as its meaning, it is essential to know the origin of the word. Of course, being a polysemous term (with many meanings), it is not easy to disentangle its origin.
The word culture has had different meanings throughout history. At first, it was associated with cultivation techniques. For example, it was common to hear that cultivation techniques are not very productive. Thus, the word agriculture means cultivation of the field.
Subsequently, it was used to emphasize the fact that someone had to have critical and elaborate judgment on a specific subject. In this sense, it is also about training, education or intellectual development.
The aggregate of a society’s artistic development, lifestyles, and variety of customs is the most representative and known term of culture as it is known.
Thanks to the development of the social sciences that took place in the 20th century, this term has been defined with the attributions associated with it since that date.
What are the elements that make up culture?
Here are the main elements that make up a culture:
- Beliefs: It is the set of ideas that generate specific behaviors and attribute meaning and values to certain things. Beliefs can come from different paths. For example, scientific explanations, popular sayings, associated with religion, among others.
- Rules: There are a series of rules, which must be followed by people. Otherwise, a series of corresponding sanctions are produced to correct the violation of these rules.
- Values: It is usually those positive norms that are shared in groups and that they try to promote in social life.
- Language: Something essential to communicate and which is shared all over the world. Thanks to it, it is possible to debate, communicate, share knowledge and pass it on from generation to generation.
- Symbols: It is something that expresses a certain meaning for a specific society, social group or people. For example, a religious image, the flag of a country that can evoke patriotic feelings.
- Technology: It is all the techniques, methods and equipment to improve and facilitate the work of human beings.
- Identity : It is something that identifies a society and includes the way of life, the typical diet, the cults that exist there.
Due to the breadth of the concept, to know the different types of culture, it is necessary to establish different classifications. In general, there are four types of classifications according to the benchmark.
- According to the use of language and writing : Which depends not only on when you started writing this culture, but also on how you do it. For example, in China they have a type of writing based on logograms. Meanwhile, in Latin America, the writing is alphabetic. On the other hand, there are also cultures that have not evolved into written systems and are based on oral systems. Examples of the latter are certain indigenous cultures.
- According to the type of economic system : In the article on the types of economic systems, we develop the main types of systems.
- Depending on the religion practiced Although there are as many cultures as there are religions, in general, one can distinguish between theistic and non-theistic cultures. Theists believe in one or more gods, while non-theists like Buddhism do not believe in a single god.
- According to the social hierarchy : According to the social classes and the socio-economic order, one can find elitist, popular or mass cultures. The difference between them is the education of the population, the history it carries, as well as participation in the governing power of society.
- According to the meaning of gender : According to the mode of social organization, we can find two types of cultures that clash: the matriarchal and the patriarchal. According to what is practiced, the head of the family or the figure of power will be a man or a woman.
- According to the historical evolution : By virtue of the historical context in which a society develops, one can find different aspects of culture. For example, baroque culture or ancient culture are different from contemporary culture.
- For geographical reasons: Depending on the geographical area in which a city is located, it will be said to have a Western (Western Hemisphere) or Eastern (Eastern Hemisphere) culture.
In addition, we can find other types of culture that do not necessarily correspond to the previous classifications.
Structuralist culture is based on philosophical structuralism. This school of thought holds that to understand the world around us, it is essential to analyze the structures that make up the culture of a society. Thus, according to structuralists, culture is formed according to different events and phenomena such as religion, customs, literature or sport.
The symbolic culture of a society is that which is capable of transmitting traditions and customs to its descendants. Unlike other living beings, humans have the ability to convey concepts such as good or evil, religion through gods, or belief in the fiduciary system.
Although it is not by far the last type of culture, it is worth noting cultural Marxism or Marxist culture. His idea comes from Marxist theory. That is to say the development of Karl Marx on the economic, political and social system which should, according to the author, prevail in society.
Marxism has evolved over the decades and there are very different currents in this regard. However, its fundamental idea allows a Marxist culture to exist around the concept. For example, Marxism rejects religion.
Why is culture important?
It is distinguished by the following elements:
- Improves critical ability: This is something that can be observed when there is continuous contact with art and different cultural disciplines. Being in contact with them, learning and maintaining this relationship strengthens critical thinking.
- They promote leisure and entertainment: Cinema and theater are part of culture and contribute to promoting leisure, learning values and expanding knowledge.
- Increase knowledge: Culture helps to know the different societies and their characteristics. Enriching the human spirit and discovering through them its most striking values.
- Creativity is encouraged: Participating in cultural activities such as a painting or film workshop, enhances creativity, imagination, improving skills. In short, positive feelings associated with the culture and the learning that comes from it.