Culture, Sarsha Brown

What is culture? How does one begin to define the one thing that seems to be fused into every individual or group of people? The textbook definition of it is : Culture consists of explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by the symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in the artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other, as conditioning elements of further actions. From my understanding, all that means is that culture is a very complex thing with many different aspect in which we react to. Culture consists of language, symbols, behaviors, customs, values all of which defines whats normal and how we respond to things that are not.

A good example of how vast cultures could be is by noticing the hundreds of different languages people speak around the world. To get even more complicated each language could have infinite amounts of variations in pronunciation, dialects, and accents depending on where you live. Let’s take the word “chocolate” for example, some say, “chawklit” and others say chaaklit. This variation can be found right here in New York City depending on which borough you live. Within verbal language there is also a visual language in which people respond to in forms of symbols and gestures. Symbols and gestures become a part of culture because they represent something to a majority of people. Symbols such as the Nazi swastika, Hindu Aum, Catholic cross, and something as simple as a red rose invoke serious emotions.

By being a part of a certain culture you develop your own notions on you think is normal. This touches every aspect of life whether it be the way you speak, the way you dress, what you believe, and how you react to something that is not your idea of normal. The book gives the perfect example to what a woman should wear to church. According to the norm a lady must dress modestly when attending church and in return she will earn the respect of the congregation. On the flip side if a woman comes to church in a low top and short tight skirt it is likely that people will down on her. Do these things indicate whether she is a good or bad person? no? She just didn’t follow the norms of the cultures she is consumed in. Reactions like these can be referred to as positive and negative sanctions. These sanctions can also be politically enforced by using laws that prevent such things as public nudity and drinking laws.

Through culture we begin to assess what we value and carry them with us for the rest of your life. I for one have become to value the opportunities I have living in this culture of New York City as a young woman. But this is just as significant as the way I value honesty because of the way I was raised by my parents. In my opinion, the narrative of culture is that, We think we’re individuals but the underlying factor is that we’re really just driven by the ominous cultures we were brought up in.

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