Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving. Culture is the system of knowledge shared by a relatively large group of people.

“Culture is communication, communication is culture.”

Culture is symbolic communication. Some of its symbols include a group’s skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, and motives. The meanings of the symbols are learned and deliberately perpetuated in a society through its institutions. Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in 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 hand, as conditioning influences upon further action. Culture is the sum of the total of the learned behavior of a group of people that are generally considered to be the tradition of those people and are transmitted from generation to generation. Culture is a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.

Cultural Relativism

Different cultural groups think, feel, and act differently. There are no scientific standards for considering one group as intrinsically superior or inferior to another. Studying differences in culture among groups and societies presupposes a position of cultural relativism. It does not imply normalcy for oneself, nor for one’s society. It, however, calls for judgment when dealing with groups or societies different from one’s own. Information about the nature of cultural differences between societies, their roots, and their consequences should precede judgment and action. Negotiation is more likely to succeed when the parties concerned understand the reasons for the differences in viewpoints.

Layers of Culture

People even within the same culture carry several layers of mental programming within themselves. Different layers of culture exist at the following levels:
The national level: Associated with the nation as a whole.
The regional level: Associated with ethnic, linguistic, or religious differences that exist within a nation.
The gender level: Associated with gender differences (female vs. male)
The generation level: Associated with the differences between grandparents and parents, parents and children.
The social class level: Associated with educational opportunities and differences in occupation.
The corporate level: Associated with the particular culture of an organization. Applicable to those who are employed.

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