Characteristics of Culture

Although the definitions of culture presented are excellent, they seek to characterize culture in only a few words. It is evident that the concept is difficult to convey clearly in any definition. As one writer notes it’s like putting your hand in a cloud. This article therefore will expand on these definitions by discussing the significant characteristics or features of culture. Many characteristics of culture may be cited to illustrate its nature, but most social scientists agree that the following features are essential.

Culture is invented:

Culture does not simply exist somewhere waiting to be discovered. People invent their culture. This invention consists of three interdependent systems or elements: (1) an ideological system or mental component, that consists of the ideas, beliefs, values, and ways of reasoning that human beings learn to accept in defining what is desirable (2) a technological system that consists of the skills, crafts and arts that enable humans to produce materials goods derived from the natural environment and (3) an organizational system (such as the family system and social class) that make it possible or humans to coordinate their behavior effectively with the actions of others.

Culture Is Learned:

Culture is not innate or instinctive, but is learned beginning early in life and is charged with a good deal of emotion. The great strength of this cultural stamp handed down from one generation to another is such that at an early age, children are firmly imbued with their culture’s ways of acting, thinking and feeling. This obviously has important implication s for the behavior of consumers because these preconditions of that behavior are molded by their culture from birth.

Culture is socially shared:

Culture is a group phenomenon, shared by human beings living in organized societies and kept relatively uniform by social pressure. The group that is involved in this sharing may range from a while society to a smaller unit such as family. Important parts of American culture are shared with foreign countries by way of export. In many areas around the world there is an insatiable appetite for American popular culture, broadly defend as ranging from movies, music, TV programming, and home video to licensed consumer products (such as Mickey Mouse and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) McDonald’s hamburgers, Levi’s jeans and Coca Cola soft drinks. Only export of aerospace products (aircraft and related equipment) exceeds the $8 billion in annual exports of American pop culture by the entertainment sector.

Cultures are Similar but different:

All cultures exhibit certain similarities. For example, each of the following elements is found in all societies: athletic sports, bodily adornment, a calendar, cooking, courtship, dancing, education, family, gestures, government, housing, language, law, music, religious ritual and numerous other items there is, however great variation from society to society in the nature of each of these elements which may result in important consumer behavior differences around the world.

Culture is Gratifying and persistent:

Culture satisfies basic biological needs as well as learned needs. It consists of habits that will be maintained and reinforced as long as those who practice them are gratified. Because of this gratification, cultural elements ate handed down from generation to generation. Thus, people are comfortable doing things in the customary way.

Our thorough inculcation with culture causes it to persist even we are exposed to other cultures. No matters where we go or what we do. We cannot escape our cultural heritage. Its persistence means that change although not impossible is often quite difficult because resistance to it may be strong.

Culture is adaptive:

In spite of our resistance to change, cultures are gradually and continuously changing. Some societies are quite static, with a very slow rate of change, while others are more dynamic, with very rapid changes taking place.

Culture is organized and integrated:

A culture hangs together that is its part of it together. Although every culture has some inconsistent elements, it tends to form a consistent and integrated whole.