12 CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURE

Culture is the collaboration of shared meanings, values, norms, customs and beliefs among members of a social group.

According to Horton and Hunt, "Culture is anything which is socially shared and learned by members of a society"

Characteristics & features of culture

1. Culture is learned: Culture is learned rather than inborn, as no one is born with it.

No one biologically inherits culture. We all learn cultural elements from our family, friends, institutions, and the media, both deliberately and unconsciously

Enculturation is the process of learning culture. It is the process by which individuals learn the dynamics of their surrounding culture through observation, experiences and instruction

2.  Culture is dynamic: Culture is not static but dynamic.

Simply said, culture evolves when it interacts with the cultures of others.

For example, 40 years ago, it would have been considered absurd to see ladies wearing trousers in Nigeria. 

But presently, ladies are increasingly competing with men in wearing trousers in Nigeria.

3. Culture is based on symbols: Symbols are things that have meanings that are understood by members of society.

Some symbols are universal to all societies, while others have different meanings in different societies.

For example, almost all societies have non-verbal means of communicating, however, the thumps up gestures have different meanings in different societies

The important thing is that every culture has objects with specific meanings that society members can recognize and comprehend

4. Culture is also based on language: Language is a type of symbol used for communication.

Language is an essential characteristic of culture because members of a society must interact and communicate.

More so, Language serves as the main vehicle through which culture is transmitted from one generation to another.

5. Culture is shared: There are two things common to all societies: Culture and territory.

Culture is made up of the beliefs, values, and norms that are common to members of society.

People can only act in a socially acceptable manner if their culture is shared by all members of society.

6. Culture is abstract: Culture exists in the minds and actions of members of society.

Culture is an abstract concept because we see it physically, but we can see its manifestations in the beliefs and actions of members of society.

7. Culture is super-organic: Culture is superior to nature, so it is considered super-organic.

Culture has a symbolic rather than genetic life of its own.

It high a higher level of complexity than the organics and the individuals that make it up.

To quote page 490 of the American Anthropology, 1921-1945, "Human culture is superorganic in the psychological sense that man's capacity for invention and communication enables him to create and acquire new forms of cultural life without any corresponding change in his organic structure".

8. Culture is pervasive: Culture affects every aspect of our lives.

It is the foundation on which social interactions and social living take place in society.

Every social action and institution is infused with culture.

9. Culture is transmittable: Culture is passed down from generation to generation through the various agents of socialisation.

Furthermore, some cultural characteristics and traits can be transmitted when one culture interacts with another.

10. Culture varies by society: Culture varies from one society to another.

We have seen people have made references to Nigerian culture, British culture, and Brazilian cultures. 

This demonstrates the diversity of culture, as each society has its unique cultural characteristics.

More so, there exist subcultures within a culture that varies from the mainstream culture.

For example, within Nigeria, we have the cultures of the Igbos, the Yorubas and the Hausas.

All of this demonstrates the diversity and variability of culture

11. Culture is integrated and accumulative: Culture is made up of many different components that are all linked together and highly integrated.

Any new element of cultural trait introduced into the culture or borrowed from another culture is integrated as well.

12. It is a way of life: Culture is the organisation and way of life of members of society.

Culture influences how members of society communicate, interact, and approach social issues.

It is the underlying values, beliefs, ideas, perceptions and assumptions that influence our ability to comprehend what we hear, read, as well as interact with our social groups.

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