Culture is a universal phenomenon. It can be witnessed all around the globe and refers to the ideas, customs or behaviors passed on, shared and practiced within a particular group of people or society. No two cultures are the same but there are always certain basic elements present in every culture of the world. Examining these elements can help one understand the uniqueness of each culture while simultaneously appreciating the similarity of the foundations all these cultures stand upon. These elements can be categorized into six distinct groups.
Language is the human ability to gain and put into use systems of communication. It refers to a group of words which have a shared meaning for a particular group of people in particular social situations. The meanings, terminology and sound patterns are specific to that culture and common within it. It aids us in our social activities and gives meaning to our social life.
A symbol may be a person, an object or even a concept that stands for a particular idea or belief. A set of symbols guide behavior within a given culture. They usually used to express a situation or event.
The norms of a particular culture also guide a person’s behavior. They are a set of informal rules or understanding of how the society works and what is expected of an individual in that society. Norms help prevent deviation and keep individuals restricted within the boundaries of a society.
Values are standards of behavior that reflect what is considered important in a given society. These values are a product of the society and refer to the level of importance any behavior or action is given so that members of the society can decide which actions are the best or ideal.
Beliefs are the tenets that members of a society believe to be true, often times without evidence. They lead to the spiritual rejuvenation of the members of that society. The members of the society are unified in their beliefs and practice faith together, an act which might help in strengthening the ties within the society.
Cognitive elements refer to the conscious intellectually activity individuals of a society undertake to deal with the different situations they have to encounter, whether it be long-term survival or day to day problem solving.
Therefore, cultures are made up of some basic elements that can be found across countries, boundaries and society. No matter how different cultures may be they share these six elements that help one dissect and understand each culture better.