Overview of culture | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy
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Overview of culture | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy


– [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.

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