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Overview of culture

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Society is a group of people. And culture talks about the rules and instructions within a society that guide people and teach them how to live. With that out of the way, let's learn more about culture. Culture refers to the ideas and things that are passed on from one generation to the next in society. Culture includes many different things like knowledge, beliefs, and values. It also includes language and customs. One important thing to realize is that culture varies as we travel across the globe. In America, most of us use toothbrushes and toothpaste when it comes to cleaning our mouths, while in other regions people use twigs from trees believe it or not. This is done in some African cultures and what they do is they'll go to a tree and they'll break off some twigs and on a certain half they will soften a broken end and then they'll rub the twig on their teeth to clean their teeth. Many people also sleep in beds, while others may sleep on tatami mats or even animal skins. Here is a picture of a tatami mat and these are often used in Japan. I speak English along with a little over 500 million other people around the world but also there are many different languages, so there are over one billion people who speak Chinese and there are also over 480 million people who speak Hindi and Hindi is the official language of India over here. There's also over 400 million Spanish speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of over 20 countries, including Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. Also many people like to eat meat and vegetables while other eat tofu and grasshoppers. And you can see here this is a picture of a bowl of grasshoppers, this is a special dish in another region. Also, another way cultures vary around the world is when you go to greet someone. In the United States proper greetings include a handshake, maybe a wave, maybe they even say "hello." But the greeting ceremony in Japan includes bowing and the depth of the bow is defined by relative status. So each individual has to bow a certain way. So a person who is younger, and of lower status, must bow more deeply. And the proper greeting of many European countries calls for men and women to kiss acquaintances on both cheeks. These are examples of how culture varies greatly across the globe. This also shows how each social unit of people develops a unique way of life. Culture provides the guidelines for the actions and interactions within a society, as we've said many times. As we just saw, this could include guidelines for how to greet people, for example. There are four main points that I want to share with you about culture. The first one is that all people share a culture with others in their society. As mentioned before, culture provides the rules and expectations for carrying out your daily rituals and interactions. From birth, we learn the patterns of behavior that are acceptable in our society. A second point that I want to make is culture evolves over time and it is adaptive. So what is normal in hunter-gatherer societies would be very different from what is normal in the information age. Hunter-gatherers value cooperation and loyalty to the community because they're critical for hunting. Now in the information age, which is just the age of technology and the explosion of information on the internet, individualism and competition are encouraged and they are what is required to enhance one's position and well being. The creation of culture is ongoing and cumulative. Societies build on existing culture to adapt to new challenges and opportunities. So your behaviors and values that are seen as normal to you are actually shaped by your culture. Culture is so much a part of life that we might not even notice behaviors that outsiders may find weird. For example, you may not thing anything about putting a baby in a crib, but in other countries they may find that strange. For example, in Finland babies sleep in padded baby boxes that are issued by their government. This again shows how greatly culture differs around the world. Also, a final point I want to make is that culture is transmitted from one generation to the next. This talks about how we teach a way of life to the next generation. Humans are the only mammals with culture that enable them to adapt to their environment so they can survive on both the Equator and even in the Arctic. So that's just a more in-depth look at culture.