Man is not only a social animal but also a cultured being. Man’s social life has been made possible because of culture. Culture is something that has elevated him from the level of animal to the heights of man.
Man cannot survive as man without culture. It represents the entire achievements of mankind. Culture has been fulfilling a number of function among which the following may be noted.
1. Culture is the treasury of knowledge
Culture provides knowledge which is essential for the physical and intellectual existence of man. Birds and animals behave instinctively with environment. But man has greater intelligence and learning capacity. With the help of these he has been able to adapt himself with environment or modify it to suit his convenience.
Culture has made such an adaptation and modification possible and easier by providing man the necessary skills and knowledge.
Culture preserves knowledge and helps its transmission from generation to generation through its means that is language helps not only the transmission of knowledge but also its preservation, accumulation and diffusion. On the contrary animals do not have this advantage. Because culture does not exist at such human level.
2. Culture defines situations
Culture defines social situations for us. It not only defines but also conditions and determines what we eat and drink, we wear, when to laugh, weep, sleep, love to like friends with, what work we do, what god we worship, what knowledge we rely upon, what poetry we recite and so on.
3. Culture defines attitudes, values and goods
Attitudes refer to the tendency to feel and work out in certain ways. Values are the measure of goodness or desirability. Goods refer to the attainments which our values define as worthy.
It is the culture which conditions our attitude towards various issues such as religion, morality, marriage, science, family planning, positions and so on.
Our values concerning private etc. are influenced by our culture. Our goals of winning the race, understanding others, attaining salvation, being obedient to elders and teachers, being loyal to husband, being patriotic etc. are all set forth by our culture. We are being socialized on these models.
4. Culture decides our career
Whether we should become a politician or a social worker, a doctor, an engineer, a soldier, a farmer, a professor, an industrialist, a religious leader and so on is decided by our culture.
What career we are likely to pursue is largely decided by our culture. Culture sets limitations on our choice to select different careers.
Individuals may develop, modify or oppose the trends of their culture but they always live within its framework. Only a few can find outlet on the culture:
5. Culture provides behavior pattern
Culture directs and confines the behavior of an individual. Culture assigns goals and provides means for achieving them. It rewards noble works and punishes the ignoble ones.
It assigns him status. We see dream, aspire, work, strive to marry, enjoy according to the cultural expectation. Culture not only contains but also liberates human energy and activities. Man indeed is a prisoner of his culture.
6. Culture provides personality
Culture exercises a great influence on the development of personality. No child can get human qualities in the absence of a cultural environment.
Culture prepares man for group life and provides him the design of living. It is the culture that provides opportunities for the development of personality and sets limits on its growth. As Ruth Benedict has pointed out every culture will provide its special type or types of personality.
7. Culture makes man a human being
It is culture that makes the human, a man, regulates his conduct and prepares him for group life. It provides to him a complete design for living.
It teaches him what type of food he should take and in what manner, how he should cover himself and behave with his fellows, how he should speak with the people and how he should co-operate or compete with others. An individual abstained from culture is less than human, he is what we call feral man.
The individual to be truly human must participate in cultural stream without it he would have been forced to find his own way which would meant a loss of energy in satisfying his elementary needs.
8. Culture provides solution for complicated situation
Secondly, culture provides man with a set of behavior even for complicated situation. It has so thoroughly influenced that often he does not require any external force to keep himself in conformity with the social requirements. His action becomes automatic.
Forming queues when there is rush at the booking window or driving left in the busy streets. In the absence of culture he should have been baffled even at the simplest situations. He need not go through painful trial and error learning to know what food can be taken without poisoning himself and fellow.
His culture directs and confines his behavior, limits his goals and measures his reward. His culture gets into his mind and shutters vision so that he sees what is supposed to see in dream what he is expected to dream and hunger for what he is trained to hunger.
9. Culture provides traditional interpretations to certain situation.
Through culture men gets traditional interpretation for many situations according to which he determines his behavior. If a cat cross his way he postpones his journey.
It has seen on the top of the house he regards it as inauspicious. It may however be noted that these traditional interpretation differ from culture to culture. Among some culture owl is regarded as a symbol of wisdom and not a symbol of idiocy.
10. Culture keeps social relationship intact
Culture has importance not only for man but also for the group. Had there been no culture there would have been no group life. Culture is the design and the prescription for guiding values and ideals. By regulating the behavior of the people and satisfying the primary drives pertaining to hunger and sex it has been able to maintain group life.
Culture has provided a number of checks upon irrational conduct and suggestibility culture aids such as in schooling or scientific training.
Lessen the chances that a man will behave irrationally or irresponsibility. The members of group characterized though they be by consciousness of kind, at once competing. They are held in line by constraints prescribed by culture.
11. Culture broadens the out looks of the individual
Culture has given a new vision to individual by providing him a set of rules for co-operation of the individuals. He thinks not only his own self but also of the others.
Culture teaches him to think himself a part of the larger whole, it provides him with the concept of family, state, nation and class and make responsible the cooperation and division of labour.
12. Culture creates new needs
Culture also creates new needs and new drives, for example, thirst for knowledge and arranges for the satisfaction.