We explain what culture is and what types of culture exist. In addition, the elements of a culture, and some examples.
What is culture?
When we talk about culture we refer to a broad, very comprehensive term, in which the different manifestations of the human being are contemplated , as opposed to their genetic or biological aspects, to “nature”. However, it presents various ways of understanding each other.
Culture is called the way of doing things proper to a human community , usually determined by its unique characteristics of time , space and tradition . Thus, when talking about culture we also do it in the way of seeing the life of a human community, their way of thinking about themselves, of communicating, of building a society and a series of transcendent values, which can go from religion, the moral , the arts , the protocol , the law , the history , the economy and a long and varied etcetera. According to some definitions, everything human does is culture.
The word culture comes from the Latin word cultus , in turn derived from colere , that is, “take care of the field and livestock,” what we now call cultivating. The Roman thinker Cicero used it as an animi culture (“Cultivate the Spirit”) to metaphorically refer to the work of making human wisdom flourish, and since then it was linked to these aspects.
In that way the use of “cult” and “cult” is also born to refer to those individuals who have cultivated their spirit, and the term culture is given a meaning similar to that of civilization, of “being civilized.” From there also comes the distinction between a high or “high” and a popular or “low” culture , according to the distinction between social classes .
However, today the concept is used much more broadly and democratically, as we said at the beginning, to mean all spiritual, rational and social aspects of humanity.
Types of culture
There are many ways to classify culture (or cultures), some of which may be:
- According to social stratum . There is talk of high and low culture to refer, respectively, to the culture of the privileged and dominant classes, and that of the vulgar and popular tradition. For many centuries it was the first as the true culture, but today it is understood that this is only because it belonged to the literate elite.
- According to the use of writing . You can talk about oral cultures or ágrafas, for those who do not know the writing and depend on memorization to transmit and preserve their traditions, and literate cultures for those who handle the writing and depend on it to do so.
- According to state of historical development . Depending on the place they occupy in the course of human history , it is possible to speak of primitive or original cultures (those with which humanity began), nomadic cultures (wandering, hunters and gatherers), agricultural cultures (those centered on the life of the agro), urban cultures (typical of the city) or industrial cultures (after the Industrial Revolution and its change of values).
- According religion . It is also possible to divide cultures based on their religious roots, which historically determined their range of values and their moral and ethical regulations. Thus, there is talk of Christian culture, Islamic or Muslim culture, Jewish culture, etc.
Elements of the culture
Every culture is formed from six basic elements, which are:
- Values . Shared considerations of the desirable and undesirable, the transcendent and the ephemeral, as well as the direction that existence must have regarding society .
- Rules and penalties . A code of laws, basically. A regulation by which societies choose to be governed, either explicitly (legally), protocol or subjectively. Not all laws are said, or written in stone.
- Beliefs A set of ideas about how life and the universe operate , about the human being and his place in the world, and give life purpose and direction.
- Symbols Emblems, forms or signs that contain a powerful meaning within the culture, representing its model of life or its ancestral tradition, or some element considered iconic and identifying it, such as the cross of Christianity, for example.
- Language. The shared code of sounds that allows communication, together with the specific way of speaking, deriving, changing and using it creatively ( literature ), are a vital part of a culture’s heritage. It is said that language is the mirror of culture.
- Technology. The body of knowledge and applications of them that derive from human desire to manipulate reality and adapt it to their needs and cravings. The great technological revolutions brought profound cultural changes.
Some examples of culture can be:
- Chinese culture Own one of the oldest nations on earth, whose rich and diverse origin assured them a dominant place in ancient and modern Asia.
- European culture This is the name of the one that identifies the values of the region, cultural, technological and commercial center of the ancient world, and that knew how to impose itself on the other continents throughout the centuries.
- Pre-Columbian cultures This is the name of the group of American civilizations prior to the arrival of Columbus, such as the Mexica ( Aztecs ), the Incas , the Taínos, the Caribs, etc.
- The culture 2.0. Own Internet and social networks , as well as the interactions that this technological advance allows for the creation of online communities.