What Is Culture?

Culture is the set of ideas, beliefs, customs, and behaviors that are shared by a people living in a specific place and time. Human beings are born with the genetic capacity for creative thought and for communication using symbols. But we are not born with culture — we acquire it from our parents and our social peers. Thus another important component of culture is that it is transmitted from one generation to the next through a complex learning process. Other animals possess some of the behaviors that we associate with culture, such as the ability to use simple tools, to communicate with one another, and some forms of social behavior. But none have developed these to the extent that human beings have.  The sophisticated development of cultural behavior is our unique adaptation.


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