What is culture and how is it defined?

What is culture?

Culture is everywhere. It is the characteristics of a particular group of people. Culture forms beliefs, perceptions, values, norms and knowledge, as well as attitude, behavior and language. It also determines what is right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable in each society.  People from different cultures have different ways to follow the rules and the patterns of behavior that their ancestors have passed down to their society. To put it another way, culture determines who the person is.

Culture is like an iceberg!

Image

When we see an iceberg, the visible portion that we can see above the waterline, is very small compared to the whole. Like an iceberg, the majority of culture lies beneath the surface. People often think that they can examine other cultures from observable characteristics such as languages, arts, foods, music and appearances. However, in reality, there are many cultural components that are invisible and lie below surface.

What is cultural conflict?

Cultural conflict occurs when values, norms, expectations and belief of one culture clash with one another. It also refers to disagreements between people in different cultures caused by misinterpretation of other’s behavior.

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One thought on “What is culture and how is it defined?

  1. The visual model of culture is spot on with the visible vs invisible iceberg analogy. As a person who grew up in a very diverse family- Japanese aunt, a Scottish Great Grandmother, and Parents from the Caribbean and the South it is always refreshing to meet and get to know and truly have an open mind in respecting all cultures.

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