What are the eight important characteristics of culture?

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An attempt has been made by anthropologists to give the universal characteristics of culture while defining it. Kroeber has recognised two aspects of culture – eidos and ethos. The first includes the formal appearance of culture.

The second is an aggregate of those elements which determine the qualities, interests and main patterns of culture. Bateson is also of the opinion that there are two aspects of culture. Kluckhohn has classified cultural elements into explicit and implicit. According to him, we cannot know everything about a people’s life merely through sensory observation.

Those items of culture which can be known through eyes and ears are only explicit. Besides there are some other items which can be perceived only by those who are specially trained to look for them. These are the motivations and impulses underlying human actions of which the actors themselves may not be conscious. These are the implicit items of culture. Both these items, the explicit and implicit, must be included in studying the culture of any society.

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Although all the anthropologists differ in their opinion about the universal characteristics of culture, yet the universal characteristics of culture can be included in the following heads:

1. Culture includes acquired qualities

All those things, which are made by man and can be modified by him, are included in culture. It is the man-made part of environment. Culture includes all the qualities, habits and ideas, etc., acquired through socialization. Because of his capacity for symbolic communication, a man can acquire culture behaviour.

2. Culture is found only in human societies

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There are societies among animals but they do not have culture. In this way, man is the only cultured being. In the words, culture is found only in human societies.

3. Culture is Communicable

Culture is mentally communicated from one generation to another. This brings about a regular expansion of culture. Because of this communication, a new generation can benefit from the experiences of an old generation. In other way, culture becomes stable, and extinction of an individual or group does not affect it.

4. Culture is not individualistic but social

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Every individual takes some part in the expansion and communication of culture, but culture is social instead of being individualistic. It includes common expectations of the members of a group. An individual can not create culture by keeping out of the group.

5. Culture is idealistic

Culture includes ideal behaviour patterns or rules according to which the members of a society try to behave. These ideal standards or patterns are accepted by the society.

6. Culture satisfies certain needs

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Culture satisfies those moral and social needs of a man which are practicable in themselves. Culture includes collective habits. Habits are formed for only such actions which satisfy some needs. Without the fulfillment of these needs, no culture o*n exist. The part of culture, which is not helpful in social stratification, becomes extinct.

7. Culture is capable of adjustment

Culture undergoes a regular change according to environment and its adjustment with other powers, resulting from a change, goes on. But the influence of the natural environment, on evolution, goes on decreasing. Apart from this, different parts of culture go on developing and need internal adjustment among them.

8. Quality of integration in culture

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There is order and unity in culture. Its different parts keep united among them and any new element, that arrives, gets united with it. Cultures which have greater outside influence are more foreign. But sortie tendency of unity is sure to be seen.

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