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Culture and its many definitions

Given that culture has many definitions, see the following:

Definition 1: A culture, in the anthropological sense, is the set of beliefs, rules of behavior, and customary behaviors maintained, practiced, and transmitted in a given society. Different cultures may be found in a society as a whole or in its segments, for example, in its ethnic groups or social classes.

Definition 2: Culture is any group of people who share experiences, language, and values that permit them to communicate knowledge not shared by those outside the culture.

Definition 3: Culture refers to the learned behaviors, values, norms, and values that are passed from generation to generation within a society.

Definition 4: One useful definition of culture is learned patterns of thought and behavior shared by a social group-Cultural patterns might be considered to have three basic interconnected domains: (1) Infrastructure, the domain of material and economic culture; (2) structure, the domain of social organization, power, and interpersonal relations; (3) the belief system or super structure, the domain of symbols, cognitive models, and ideology.

Definition 5: Culture is the patterned ways in which humans have learned to think about and act in their world. These learned, shared and patterned ways of thinking and acting replicate human social structures.

Definition 6: Culture is defined as the totality of socially transmitted behavioral patterns, arts, beliefs, values, customs, lifeways, and all other products of human work and thought characteristics of a population or people that guide their world view and decision making.

Please answer the following questions based on the above definitions. Each question should be a half a page long as its reply:

What similarities and differences do you see among them?

What concepts seem to be common to all the formal definitions?

How might the differences among the definitions lead to confusion in clinical settings?

Solution Preview

What similarities and differences do you see among them?

Nearly all of the definitions define culture as something that is learned. It is passed down from one generation to another as children see their parents do, say and act in certain ways and they in turn copy these mannerisms. Culture is not something that occurs in a vacuum but is constantly being molded by people, the environment, fads and governments. Additionally there is high culture that is typically visible and can be picked up on by a visitor into that society and there is also low culture which is closer to a worldview level. The low culture affects every aspect of life and may not even be consciously noticeable to the members of that culture until someone begins to question them about their values, beliefs and ideas.

There are some differences in the definitions. Some (especially the anthropological) equate culture with inanimate objects, traditions and belief systems thereby almost divorcing culture from the people. This makes sense in anthropology because many times the people are not around anymore to be questioned directly so inferences need to be made from artifacts and ruins. Nearly all of the other definitions refer to culture as the values, ideas, ...

Solution Summary

The varied definitions of culture is compared and contrasted and a general overview of culture is provided.

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