We are surrounded by culture. It is in the language we use, the clothes we wear, the food that we eat and even in our schools.
Culture is everywhere! And yet most people have no idea what it really means or how it influences their lives. Culture is a set of behaviors or norms including art, dress, music, architecture and more that are socially transmitted from one generation to another within a society.
Culture is also what differentiates us from one another.
Culture is what makes people different from each other. It includes the way we dress, the language we speak and even what you eat.
For example, some people like to go to church on Sunday and others might not. Some people like to watch movies with their friends on Friday night and others might not.
Okay, now that you’ve learned what culture is, how about we give some real-world instances? Here are a handful of distinct interesting cultures.
19 Examples of Culture
Culture is a very deep topic but the simplest way to define it is that culture is a group of people’s values, norms, assumptions and behaviors. Learning about different cultures around us can help us better understand the world we live in!
The following are illustrative examples of culture:
Now, let’s go through each one in detail.
Norms are informal, unwritten rules that govern social behaviors. Norms are created when people repeatedly use certain behaviors to solve certain problems.
Something taken for granted. An assumption is something we believe to be true but can’t prove, such as the idea that gravity will always make a heavy object fall if you let go of it.
A strong feeling of trust or confidence in someone or something. Belief is having faith in something, not just saying it exists but truly believing that it does.
A way of acting or behaving that reflects your thoughts, feelings and attitude. Your behavior might be different depending on who you are with so its good to think about how you would act if you were at school/home/with a friend.
Languages are systems of communication, either spoken or written. They are usually within a very large group (for example Chinese) and there is almost always more than one language in the world (English, French). Every language has its own grammar rules which vary widely across geographical regions.
A celebration of a local harvest, religious event or traditional custom.
Rituals & Ceremony
A ritual occurs when an action is repeated for a long time and often included as part of tradition.
Traditions are practices or behaviors that have been passed down through generations within families or communities, such as taking the garbage out on Tuesdays at 5 pm because your parents always do it that day.
Special times or events for celebration. Holiday is a day of vacation from work and usually given to us by our boss!
An activity that people do in their spare time.
A physical activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, such as football.
Movies are the recorded stories/scenes from real life or imaginary creatures on film! They can be an interactive experience meaning that you’ll have to think about what is going to happen next or how it will end.
Values are ideas that are important to us and that we strive to achieve in everyday life. For instance, you might value honesty because its something you believe is very important. Your values might be different from someone else’s values but luckily differences can often lead to a more enriched world for all of us!
Music can be original compositions, such as machine-generated beats, or it may be artistic performances that involve singing or dancing. Music may also be a recorded or transmitted performance.
Food is what we eat and drink! Some people have different kinds of food for breakfast lunch and dinner depending on the time of day. Food can come from animals, fruit, vegetables or grains, sometimes all these types are combined together to make something delicious! There are many different types of food around the world, some are familiar to you while others might be very different!
Belongings are objects that people own but do not usually use every day.
This is how buildings are designed and the materials used to make them, for example wood or steel.
Clothing is a covering of the body. It is made from many different types of materials which offer protection from the environment (such as cold weather) and/or help keep the wearer clean. Fashion often changes over time but some items of clothing, such as underwear and socks, never fall out of fashion!
This is the way we live our lives which includes how we interact with others and what we do in our spare time.
What are elements of culture?
Social organization, customs, religion, language, government and economy are all elements of culture.
These elements can be interrelated so much so that certain areas may not have a clear separation between them as they often overlap in their influence. What you might find interesting is that these elements do not rely on technology or science for their existence or maintenance.
This means you don’t have to have electricity to have a culture nor does your culture need to use the internet too stay alive.
In reality, something as simple as the passing on of group history orally from one generation to another would suffice for example; though I’m sure people would prefer more details about specifics like it’s important role in maintaining the group’s continuity and preservation of its shared experiences which are important.
What are different types of culture?
There are two basic kinds of cultures, and these are; material culture and non-material culture. Material culture the influence of physical things produced by society, while non-material culture the intangible stuff made by the community. Both material and non-material cultures exist at the same time within a society.
An example of a material culture might be the technology used, such as computers and smart phones. An example of a non-material culture might be values or ways of life, such as how we all get along with each other in society.
Material Culture, the tangible aspects of culture, are objects created or modified by humans. Materials can include clothing, food, artworks, buildings and many other things.
The study of material culture can be seen as one means for understanding different cultures and how they change over time. This is because we usually express our identities through material artefacts such as clothes and jewelry that we find in archaeological sites and museum collections today.
Non-material culture is the less tangible aspect of culture that includes beliefs and values without leaving a physical trace. Although non-material culture is often invisible to casual observers, this kind of thing constitutes the bulk of an individual or group’s cultural heritage.
Different cultures of the world
From a global standpoint, there are ancient civilizations that have distinctive ways of doing things that may appear strange to people from different parts of the world. Traditional cultures stand out because they have origins in antiquated civilizations at glance.
What exactly are cultural habits? Community customs and beliefs, commonly known as culture, are a unique feature of every society. The following are examples of various cultures throughout the world that have attracted interest from many:
- Italian, the Italians possess a rich culture in art, architecture, and cuisine. An Italian Renaissance painting by Raphael, one of the most celebrated artists in history. Italian culture is also known for its vibrant fashion scene, which was born in Milan.
- Japanese, the Japanese celebrate their culture through festivals every month. Today’s Japan displays a rich, fascinating culture that has been influenced by traditions from both East and West. For example, there are elements of Italian architecture in many of Tokyo’s skyscrapers, while Japan’s bullet trains operate on the same rail network as Amtrak.
- Spaniards, the Spaniards famous for enjoying a lifestyle that is more closely associated with the Mediterranean region as compared to their cold, northern counterparts in Europe. In terms of culture, Spain’s primary contribution has been populated by many outstanding artists, including Dalí and Picasso.
- French, the French are famous for their culture of romance. French culture remains a major source of the world’s art and ideas, and it continues to produce some of the most influential thinkers and artists of Western thought. The French were among those who spearheaded early efforts at uniting Europe after centuries of bloody conflict between rival kingdoms and empires had left much of the continent in ruins.
- Chinese, the Chinese developed a strong sense of culture. The most important part of Chinese culture is the family, and Confucian teachings stress the importance of respect for one’s parents and ancestors. Another traditional element of Chinese culture is its focus on education, which has helped produce some of the world’s most outstanding intellectuals.
- Land of the Free, the Land of the Free is a phrase used as a slogan in the United States. The concept of being free to pursue one’s own destiny without any restraints from society is important to the formation of American culture and its identity. This freedom is a significant part of the American Dream and represents what many Americans feel that they lack in their own countries.
- Scottish, the Scottish love their culture of Scotch Whiskey and Haggis. Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn, while their national colors are blue and white. Scots often enjoy celebrating holidays such as Saint Andrew’s Day, Burns Night, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and New Year.
- Second most populated country, the India is the second most populated country in the world. It is a land of diversity, with more than one hundred languages spoken while Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists and Christians form distinct cultural groups within its boundaries. The Indian culture dates back to 2nd millennium BC.
- The United Kingdom, the UK’s culture is influenced by its location as a full-fledged part of the European continent, as well as having a strong relationship with the United States. The UK has been credited with being an extremely diverse nation, and it continues to produce and attract talented people from all around the world.
- The Greece, the Greek culture is deeply rooted in its history, and many of the country’s greatest contributions to European culture can be traced back to ancient Greece. Athenian democracy, theater, philosophy, astrology, government, architecture and the Olympics – these are only some of the cornerstones that were laid by ancient Greeks.
- The Mexican, the Mexican culture is one of the most vibrant and diverse in the world. Its artistic expressions have been shaped through a fusion between Western European traditions and pre-Columbian cultures in Mexico, Latin America and many parts of North America. Many elements in Mexican cuisine can be traced back to Mayan cooking practices; similarly, the use of cacti for foods, medicines and other purposes can be traced to pre-Columbian times.
- Czech, the Czech are used to celebrating their culture with festivals throughout the year. The most important of these is Easter – which is known as Velikonoce in Czechia – but there are also harvest celebrations at the end of summer, commemorations of historical events, and other festivals.
- Swedish, the Swedish culture is one of the most prevalent in Europe and Scandinavia, where Swedes have left their mark in culture, design, music, film, literature and even politics. From ABBA to IKEA , Swedish influence has reached every corner of the globe.
What are the most beautiful cultures?
The cultures that are often deemed to be the most beautiful in the world are Huli, Kazakhs, Rabari, Loba, and Gaúchos. There isn’t one characteristic that these groups seem to share in common to mark them all as “the most beautiful”; certain aspects of their culture could be seen by some people as ugly or distasteful (e.g., head hunting among the Huli), while other features might act as what would be for many cultures (e.g., wearing skirts) an emblem of beauty.
The hallmark feature of these cultures seems to not necessarily lie with what they do or don’t do; it instead lies predominantly in how they interact with each other and their environment in a dynamic and harmonious way.
Furthermore, the beauty of a culture lies predominantly in how it is perceived by other cultures, making these hypothetical “most beautiful” cultures impossible to define.
- Huli – Papua New Guinea. The Huli are one of the most famous tribes on Papua New Guinea, an island in Oceania that is home to hundreds of unique traditional tribes. The Huli are believed to have originated in the north-eastern regions of Papua. They are known for their tradition of lip stretching which is done by piercing the lips with tiny discs made out of cane and gradually increasing the size over time.
- Kazakhs – Central Asia. The Kazakhs are a Turkic people, many of whom live in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of western China and the surrounding areas. They are known for their traditionally nomadic culture and horseback riding, as well as their elaborate yurt structures which can house up to 50 people at a time.
- Rabari – India. The Rabaris are a tribe of camel herders and nomads living in the Indian state of Gujarat. The Rabaris, like many other tribes in India, are known for their vibrant dress and matching jewellery which has been passed down through generations.
- Loba – Africa. Loba is a term used to refer to a number of different ethnic groups who share the same language and origin. They are found mostly in southern Chad, northern Cameroon and Central African Republic. The Loba people live a lifestyle that is deeply affected by the surrounding desert climate – they build their homes out of clay, avoid staying in one place for too long, drink large amounts of milk and use camels to travel throughout the area.
- Gaúchos – The Southern Cone. Gaúchos are the inhabitants of mountainous areas of southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. They make a living as gaucho cowboys and cowgirls, and although this lifestyle is no longer as widespread and popular as it once was, their colourful way of life has made a lasting impact on South America’s culture.
What are the 7 basic characteristics of culture?
- Culture is Learned. People are born with the capability to learn, and they learn through interaction with people around them. Being able to understand what is appropriate in a culture requires learning; if children did not receive this information, they would act according to their own impulses instead of understanding how others will react. Learning about culture often occurs unintentionally – for example, children will learn how they are expected to behave by watching others around them.
- Culture is Symbolic and Shared. Culture is often expressed through symbols such as language, dress, art and other material objects. The meanings associated with these symbols may vary; for example, a cross can be seen as a symbol of religion or of death. Symbols that are widely understood to represent certain values (such as freedom) will help members of one culture identify themselves and others in the context of another culture.
- Culture Mediates Nature. Culture is not natural, but it often mediates how people understand the nature around them. For example, if a person grows up somewhere with an extremely hot climate, that person might see clothing as necessary for comfort. However, someone who grew up in relatively cooler conditions might see clothing as unnecessary or even unappealing. Culture helps to shape people’s relationships with their natural environments.
- Culture is All-Encompassing. Culture is not just about what a person does or thinks, it’s also how they do things and think about the world. Culture shapes the way people speak to each other, their personal identities and beliefs, attitudes towards certain objects or ideas, how they dress and even what sorts of things they may find amusing.
- Cultures are Integrated – But Not Perfectly. Different aspects of culture work together, but they don’t always fit perfectly with one another. For example, a person who fits in to certain expectations about themselves as an individual might also subscribe to ideas that don’t seem logical or possible.
- People Use Culture Actively and Creatively. People are constantly changing culture to meet their own needs. Culture is not just a set of established rules, it is also what people do with them.
- Culture Can be Adaptive and Maladaptive. Cultures change over time to suit the needs of their people, but it is possible for cultural beliefs or practices to become outdated. Cultures can also be harmful in some cases – for example, restricting freedoms based on gender roles might cause problems within a community that are eventually addressed through legal means or revolution.
How Many Cultures Are There in the World?
It is impossible to tell exactly how many cultures there are in the world, because it is not easy to measure cultural identities directly. There are literally thousands of cultures world wide, and no one can know for sure how many there are. The estimated number of cultures in the world is over 30,000.
However, according to UNESCO, there are approximately 60,000 distinct languages in the world. Every language is a culture that has been passed down from generation to generation.
It is estimated that there are also thousands of distinct ethnic groups living in the world. Together with language, all of these different groupings would be considered a culture.
Two Aspects of Culture: Material and Nonmaterial
Material culture refers to the physical pieces that make up a culture.
Material culture consists of things that are created by humans. Examples include cars, buildings, clothing, and tools. Material culture has been called the “Handmade World” because most of it is made by hand.
Unlike material culture, non-material culture is intangible. So what are the components of non-material culture?
The component of non-material culture that stands out the most is language. Language plays a huge role in non-material culture because it helps to describe everything else that makes up the culture. Non-material culture also consists of shared ideas, attitudes, values, and beliefs that are passed down from generation to generation within a society.
What are three examples of material culture?
Material culture, also known as material objects, is made by humans. Material culture consists of physical things that are created out of natural materials or invented synthetically. Although cultures create different designs for each. There are three most common, though countless more examples exist.
- Artefacts – tangible objects associated with the people who created them and the culture in which they live.
- Material Evidence – physical evidence of sites, structures, patterns or deposits left behind by groups over time which can be analyzed to formulate models of their lifestyles or culture
- Customs & Traditions – symbols or practices that are passed down within a society which help preserve traditions and continuity between generations.
What are three examples of non-material culture?
Non-material culture comprises the ideas, beliefs, customs, and values that are held by individuals in a society. Non-material culture is usually learned throughout life through informal means such as observation rather than formally through educational institutions. There are three most common sources for this learning:
- Languages – sets of rules that govern how to produce and interpret words, symbols, and sounds shared by members of a society
- Religions – systems of beliefs dealing with soul, deity or life after death which can be expressed through worship or practice
- Beliefs & Values – the core set of principles and ideas that inform an individual’s decisions and actions.
Culture is a huge topic with many meanings. The examples we’ve offered should serve as a starting point for how to think about the issue and which elements are most important. What other sorts of cultures did you come across that you thought were fascinating? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!