Ruth Benedict once said, “The crucial differences which distinguish human societies and human beings are not biological. They are cultural.“. It is significant to learn more about cultural diversity and appreciate it in the modern world. What is culture? What role does it play in the lives of its representatives? What factors or features make the culture of one society influential and widespread?
If one wants to answer these questions, it will be necessary to comprehend the meaning of such terms as “cultural identity”, “culture”, and “society”. According to Cambridge Dictionary, society is an organized large group of people who decide when and how to do things within one or several similar countries. Consequently, they use some rules and behavioral patterns. These norms create a culture. It includes spiritual and material values such as art preferences, religious beliefs, dominant language(s), traditional clothing, marriage peculiarities, the definition of true beauty, cuisine distinctions, and more. Finally, cultural identity is a choice of a person who follows the dogma of a certain culture or not. Some people share territory with the representatives of a dominant culture but identify themselves as representatives of the pure culture of their ancestors. The value of a culture is not determined by the number of people who follow it. Cultural diversity is a manifestation of the uniqueness of different nations. It is a link between people inside a community that unites them spiritually.
How many cultures are there in the world? Scientists cannot answer this question precisely. The approximate number is 5.000-6.000. Some of them disappear or dwindle because of two reasons. If the last representative of a certain culture dies, nobody will follow it. So, it has become extinct. Some cultures are powerful and influence others. Due to globalization and the spread of English, genuine cultures become assimilated, or in other words, they adapt to the new environmental reality. Another criterion for the significance of culture is its language. People speak over 6000 languages, but only 3000 of them are used by children. It means that it can disappear over time if nothing changes. We should appreciate each of the existing cultures because they teach us about our past and explain things we cannot understand without historical awareness. Why do we wear costumes and make jack-o-lanterns on Halloween in the US? Why don’t some other societies do the same? The answer is simple – those societies bear other cultural values. Today’s cultures change because of the influence of technology, politics, and mass media. Moreover, English is getting popular worldwide. Schools, colleges, and universities include not only English courses but also organize events that reflect the culture of Americans and the English who are official native speakers. That is why one can see Chinese kindergartens celebrating Thanksgiving Day or Christmas.
The last thing to discuss is cultural difference. It is a complex of behavioral, religious, and governmental values and norms that distinguishes one culture from another. Understanding cultural differences lets people build strong relationships. For example, you will never sign a contract with a representative of Arabic culture if you serve pork to him. Besides, different cultures have nine distinguishing aspects. First off, some countries support collectivism, while others appreciate individualism. Second, one person can adapt to changes quickly, and the other feels lost and helpless when facing unpredictable obstacles. Third, some countries have strict hierarchies of influential people, while others fight against inequality. Fourth, one person orients on the current progress, and the other always works for the future. Fifth, gender inequality still remains in many countries, but it is barbaric in the rest of the world. Sixth, some cultures value assertiveness, aggression, and intolerance, while others support tenderness, modesty, social solidarity, and equality that excludes unhealthy rivalry. Seventh, highly-religious cultures entrust their destiny to their god(s), while others consider their “self” as the only possible catalyst of success. Eighth, a representative of one culture can be egoistic and contrast with a representative of a low human orientation culture. Finally, while some nations enjoy their life to the fullest, others lead an anti-hedonistic lifestyle.
So, culture is a unity of spiritual, physical, and mental values of a certain community that lets it differ from other societies. Due to globalization, cultural stereotypes gradually disappear. Nevertheless, the remnants of a dying culture can be traced even to representatives who have adapted to new realities. Culture is the core of a personality. It takes time to make it vanish forever.
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