How Culture Influences Human Development Essay

2100 words - 8 pages

INTRODUCTIONThis essay is an attempt to show how culture influences human development and interpretation of the world. Therefore, to start with this essay will define culture by different scholars. It will then show the types of culture and give a brief account on what culture constitutes (characteristics of culture). Furthermore, the concept of human development will be discussed briefly to give the reader a more clear understanding of the topic at hand. With clear examples, the essay will then show how culture influences human development and their interpretation of the world. Finally, a conclusion summarizing what the essay will discuss will be drawn.The attempt to define culture is elusive as many may suggest. Nevertheless, there are certain paradigms that constitute the sum total of culture and underlie cultural images and identity construction. It is the close affinity between cultural image and human identity that makes the definition of culture complex. The most complex and yet comprehensive definition of culture is that arrived during the 'Mondiacult' in Mexico city which has continued to be the most operationalised definition of culture: 'Culture is the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material and intellectual features that charactorise a society or social group. It includes not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of human beings, value systems, traditions and beliefs.'Young Kate (1993) in a report said, culture is seen in the African social context as transcending the arts or artifacts, folklores, literatures, music, dance and other artistic paraphelia.According to Taylor (1996) culture refers to the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share. Culture distinguishes one human group from others. It also distinguishes humans from other animals. A people's culture includes their beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art, technology, styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems.Culture can also be defined as a set of values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors shared by a group of people, communicated from one generation to the next via language or some other means of communication (Barnouw, 1985).An American sociologist Ogburn has divided culture into two parts: Material culture which consists of tangible things and tools used to express the way of life such as machines, dwellings, manufacture of goods and transportation; and Non material culture which consists of non tangible aspects such as norms, values, customs and practices that are exhibited in social institutions such as the family, religion, economy and education.Some of the characteristics of culture is that it is symbolic, meaning it is based on symbols or abstract ways of referring to and understanding ideas, objects, feelings, or behaviors-and the ability to communicate with symbols using language; it is shared meaning...

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