Characteristics of culture

10 Important Characteristics of Culture

The definitions cited below indicate some of the characteristics of culture. For a clear understanding of the idea of culture, we must know its important features.

B. Malinowski has described culture as the ‘cumulative creation of man’. He also considers culture as the handiwork of man and the platform through which he acquires his ends.

Graham Wallas, an English sociologist has interpreted culture as an accumulation of thoughts, values, and objects; it is the social heritage attained by us from preceding generations through learning, as distinguished from the biological heritage which is transmitted to us automatically through genes.


1. Culture is Learnt

Culture is not inherited biologically but acquired socially by man. It is not a genetic tendency.

There is no cultural intuition as such. Culture is frequently called ‘learned ways of behavior’. Simple behavior, such as closing the eyes while sleeping, the eye flickering reflex, and so on are simply physiological and not cultural. Shaking hands or saying ‘namaskar’ or ‘thanks’ and shavings and clothing, on the other hand, are cultural.

Likewise, wearing clothes, combing the hair, wearing ornaments, cooking the food, drinking from a glass, eating from a plate or a leaf, reading a newspaper, driving a car, performing a role in a drama, singing, worshipping, etc., are all kinds of behavior known by man culturally.

2. Culture is Social

Culture does not stand in isolation. Neither is it an isolated phenomenon. It is an output of society. It establishes and develops through social interactions. It is disseminated by the members of society.

No man can preserve culture without association with other human beings. A man comes to be a man only among men. It is the culture that enables man to develop human traits in a human environment.

The need of a company or association of other individuals to an individual is nothing but a need for human qualities.

3. Culture is Shared

The third characteristics of culture mean culture in the sociological principle is something shared. It is not something that an individual possesses.

For instance, customs, traditions, beliefs. ideas. values, morals, etc., are all shared by people of a community or society.

The creations of Arya Bhat, the literary efforts of Kalidasa or Keats, Dandi Dante; the philosophic works of Confucius
or Lao Tse, Shankaracharya, or Swami Vivekananda; the artistic traditions of Ravi Verma or Raphael, etc.. are all shared by a huge number of people.

4. Culture is Transmissive

Culture is able of being transmitted from one generation to another. Parents pass on cultural characteristics to their children and them in turn to their children, and so on.

Culture is transferred not through genes but by utilizing language. Language is the leading vehicle of culture.

Language in its different aspects like reading, writing, and speaking makes it practical for the present generation to understand the performances of earlier generations.

But language itself a portion of the culture. Once the language is attained, it unlocks to the individual Its extensive field. Cultural transmission may take place by imitation as well as by instruction.

5. Culture is Continuous and Cumulative

Culture exists as a never-ending process. In its historical progress, it oversees to become cumulative.

Culture is a ‘growing whole’ that incorporates in itself, the prosperity of the past and the present and makes a regulation for the future achievements of mankind. Culture may be therefore conceived of as a symbol of the stream flowing down through the centuries from one era to another.

6. Culture is Consistent and Integrated

Culture, in its growth, has indicated a tendency to be consistent. At the time different elements are Interconnected.

For example, the value system of a society is virtually connected with its other traits such as morality, customs, traditions, beliefs, and so on.

7. Culture is Dynamic and Adaptive

Though culture is somewhat stable it is not altogether static. It is subject to delay but ongoing changes.

Change and growth are latent in culture. We find remarkable growth in the existing Indian culture when we compare it with the culture of the Vedic times. Culture is therefore dynamic.

Culture is responsive to the changing circumstances of the physical world. It is adaptive.

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8. Culture is Gratifying

Culture gives favorable opportunities and prescribes means for the comfort of our needs and desires. These needs may be biological or social.

Our need for food, refuge, and clothing on the one hand, and our desire for status, name, fame, money, mates, etc., are all, for instance, fulfilled according to the cultural ways.

Culture determines and governs the carried activities of man. Culture is defined as the technique through which human beings satisfy their wants.

9. Culture Varies from Society to Society

This characteristics of culture mean each society has a culture of its own. It varies from society to society. The culture of every society is distinctive to itself.

Cultures are not identical. Cultural components such as customs, tradition, morals, ideals, values, dogmas, beliefs, practices, ideologies, institutions, etc., are not similar everywhere.

Ways of eating, speaking, welcoming, dressing, entertaining, habitation, etc., of different societies, differ relatively.

Culture differs from time to time also. No culture ever stays constantly changeless. If Manu were to come back to see the Indian society today he would be amazed to
see the great transformations that have taken place in our culture.

10. Culture is Superorganic and Ideational

Culture is occasionally called ‘the superorganic’. According to Herbert Spencer culture is neither organic nor inorganic but above these two.

The term signifies the social value of physical objects and physiological acts. The social value may be independent of
physiological and physical properties and components.

For example, the social value of the national flag is not exactly ‘a piece colored cloth’. The flag symbolizes a nation. Likewise, priests and convicts, professors and doctors, players, engineers and specialists, farmers and soldiers, and others are not just biological beings.

They are valued In their society differently. Their social status and role can be appreciated only through culture.

Besides, every society regards its culture as an ideal. It is considered an end in itself. It is inherently valuable. The people are also deliberate of their culture as an ideal one. They are dignified of their cultural heritage.

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