What is culture?

Culture is a term that refers to norms present in a particular society, this includes their beliefs, customs, arts, social practices, habits, and laws. Often times we see culture displayed differently from one country to another. Encountering cultures with similarities is not uncommon especially for nations that are influenced by their neighboring countries or are adapted through past colonization.

For instance, many countries that have been colonized by Spain in the past will display traditions, foods, festivals, rituals, holidays, architecture, and language with very distinct influences from these foreign settlers. Countries like Haiti, Italy, Mexico, and the Philippines are some of the countries where Spain’s Catholic beliefs are still being widely practiced today, traditions, festivals, and even language in these regions still have traces of their time as a colony of Spain.  

Similarly, we can find buildings, art, and the like in Hong Kong, Australia, Ivory Coast, Monaco, and Singapore (to name a few examples) that are significantly shaped by the British who at some point were a presence in these territories. 

Ancient Greek, Mayan, Native American Indians, and Aboriginals are among the original civilizations that have cultural practices that are relatively uniquely their own. Modern times however have to a certain degree affected these older cultures with a few practices that are less traditional. For instance, some younger generations from these older civilizations are more open to present-day norms that go against their ancestral beliefs.

Explaining cultural identity

Cultural identity is defined as a sense of belonging a group of individuals has that is based on their ethnic background, social behaviors, art, literature, ancestry, values, rituals, and traditions, etc. Some cultures are more widespread than others, and because of this, there is a larger number of individuals who are able to associate with the same belief system.

Nonetheless, this does not negate the existence of ethnic identities with smaller numbers of people who align themselves with the same set of origins, idealogy, and values.

Regardless of the size of a group, the cultural identity’s value is not in any way defined by this factor. No matter how far the reach of culture is, the age group of those identifying with it, or if there are any changes to it, there is still much that each culture can teach the rest of the world.

Examples of cultural identity

As previously mentioned, cultural or ethnic identity is the sense of belonging that a number of people identify with. Religion like Buddhism, Catholicism, and Islam are some prime examples. Not many realize it but even a person’s ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, and education are all considered to be a cultural ethnicity.

That said, cultural identity isn’t without issues. It can be rife with certain problems. For instance, there are a broad range of cultural concerns that revolve around religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and even disability. Studies have shown that issues related to cultural identity are typically connected to a person’s mental health.

This could be attributed to varying attitudes to self, family, personality, and well-being.

Additionally, other environmental factors can affect any struggles relating to belonging or identity. Many who suffer from ethnic identity problems find themselves unable to place themselves in a world where they are accepted especially when they consider themselves to be a minority.

Personal cultural identity: what is it?

As per the previous definition, cultural or ethnic identity is the sense of belonging a person or group has to a particular culture. Having a personal cultural identity simply means that the individual has a strong concept of self and perception which can be associated with a particular social class, ethnic association, religion, nationality, locality, or generation that has its own recognizable culture.

Having ample comprehension, consciousness, and appreciation is involved in a positive personal ethnic identity. These factors contribute to a sense of self that is healthy.

On the same note, it is important to also include having ample information about heritage, beliefs, family background, and belief systems that are present in a diversified society in order for personal cultural identity to be a positive one.

The importance of cultural identity

It cannot be stressed how important cultural identity is to a person’s wellbeing. Thus, belonging to a specific group culture allows people to be a part of an ethnic group which in turn provides a sense of security.

Furthermore, it gives individuals access to various social networks that can be a source for camaraderie through the shared ideals and values. Not to mention, the vital support that is provided through these networks.

Cultural diversity and its issues

In many social situations, people who are amongst their peers or colleagues often find themselves unable to fully express their thoughts and feelings. Along with a fear of being persecuted for having varying beliefs.

To a certain degree, there is still some difficulty in this day and age to have seamless integration throughout multicultural groups. People from various cultural backgrounds continue to face cultural stereotypes that paint them in a negative light, along with this, prejudice remains rampant in many societies. Language barriers make communication challenging and will sometimes result in misinterpretation and conflict.

Cultural appropriation

These days the term cultural appropriation is being thrown around a lot. This is primarily due to the lack of information that countless individuals have regarding culture and what is acceptable practices by those who belong to a different one.

To be clear the merging or blending cultures of people who come from differing backgrounds is only natural. Day to day interactions with colleagues and strangers already lead to interactions that bring opposite backgrounds together.

The birth of many inventions can actually be traced to the combination of two cultures. The problem however is when one cultural group becomes dominated by another through the use of elements components that are identified as there. Essentially, what happens is a form of exploitation. To further clarify this sensitive matter, cultural appropriation is often present when a culture uses another culture’s identity disrespectfully.

Cultural appropriation is defined as the usage of elements or objects from a less dominant culture in a manner that eliminated or extinguishes the original value or meaning. There is also the lack of credit given to the origins or source material. Appropriation of ethnic identity tends to reinforce stereotypes that lead to the oppression of a culture. In a manner, appropriation of ethnic components is a complex occurrence that has been happening for ages.

The only difference now is the addition of social media which has made it worse. Visages of celebrities sporting cornrows, afros, cheongsams, kimonos, and bindis as fashion disrespects the origin of these items immensely. Movie stereotypes of races, affectation in languages, religious practices, etc., are becoming a punchline.

This is being done without realizing how it affects the culture and its people negatively. And because of these portrayals, there are some instances of individuals who do not comprehend why their actions are not a form of imitation that compliments the source, rather ends as an insult to a belief system.

Social culture defined

Social culture is defined simply as ethnic and social factors that share the same patterns, traditions, beliefs, and habits that are found in a community. As the name would dictate, sociocultural is an amalgamation of social and cultural studies that are anthropologically rooted.

After all, the study of anthropology delves into learning about family backgrounds, societies, practices, values, and many ethnic-related ideologies.

The common social issues dealt with by individuals

All over the world, people suffer from various social issues every day. As a whole, all living beings on the planet are already dealing with the worst social issue which is climate change. This issue has resulted in weather reaching extreme temperatures. Warm weather becomes warmer, while cooler seasons now become extra chilly. This worldwide phenomenon is experienced on a daily basis.

Another common issue would be poverty, malnutrition, and homelessness. Wherever you look, these problems exist. The only difference is how numbers are larger in certain areas while some nations are able to keep their count to a minimum.

Nonetheless, the issue exists and remains unsolved. Perhaps one of the main reasons for poverty stems from another social issue which is overpopulation. To combat this there are governments that have started implementing child policies. Two major examples are China and Singapore where the population growth is now being controlled by country leaders. This is being done in the hopes to stem bigger problems with housing, and even healthcare.

Wartorn nations, on the other hand, deal with immigration problems, civil rights tension, and even racial discrimination. Another current cause for concern is the growing number of gender inequality especially now when a wider range of sexual orientations exist. The lack of understanding as well as refusal to accept changes are the underlying proponents that drive this social issue.

Realistically these social problems cannot be solved easily. Nor cat it be solved by a single person or a solitary society. In order to eradicate these problems, cultures must bridge the gap and build better understanding and solutions that will benefit not just one but all groups across the globe.

Categories: General

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I’ve been writing articles for more than 10 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I’m currently writing for many websites and newspaper. All my ideas come from my very active lifestyle. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. In all my years as computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. I believe that any information should be free, we want to know more every day because we learn everyday. You can contact me on our forum or by email at: [email protected].