Culture

A FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPT in social sciences and philosophy, culture gathers all human productions of a specific group or society at a given moment. What is known as culture includes a given language, art and literature, history and traditions, religious beliefs, the media, and comprises the way people live and prepare food. Usually, groups recognize themselves and identify with their own culture. However, a culture is different from a civilization: for instance, the civilization of Ancient Greece does not exist anymore as all of its people are dead, but their culture remains accessible because of their monuments, art, and the knowledge of their philosophers and poets through books and translations. The same applies to the culture of the Ancient Egypt: modern Egyptians no longer believe in the ancient gods and goddesses, but there is still a fascination with ancient structures.

Today, what we know as the American way of life is understood to be the way most people in the United States live and consume, based on a system that encourages and values consumption. American tourists who travel to other countries discover many cultural differences while abroad. They may be surprised to find frogs and snails on the menu at France's finest restaurants, served by peopel who would never think of eating the American staple of peanut butter.

A culture is often specific to a country, a nation, or a group; culture is a part of a group's identity. Culture is not limited to the borders of a given country. For example, even Americans who visit Louisiana acknowledge the fact there is a unique culture and way of life in New Orleans. Whenever U.S. citizens go to England, they feel that although the language is quite similar, they are into a much different context: that difference is mainly cultural.

Understanding culture is essential to understand how individuals rely on their group or society. Cultural practices are studied by anthropologists, sociologists, and media experts. Strategists in marketing observe how people consume, and what motivates them to buy a product. In many cases, the strategies crucial to lessen society's effect on climate change, or to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, require a change in the way people live: partaking in recycling, using automobiles less frequently, carpooling, per haps even choosing a job closer to home to reduce commuting distances.

The adoption of ideas such as "consuming creates global warming" contradicts the models of the consumer-based societies in which most individuals in industrial countries live.

The media are an essential part of our culture. A popular topic of social interaction is to discuss what they have seen on television, or what they have read in the newspapers. For instance, media experts have studied how a certain groups use television, particularly channels pertaining to the weather. Researchers have found that about 10 percent are obsessed by any unusual event related to the weather; they do not use forecasts as an instant information, but rather as a dramatized narrative about what could happen tomorrow.

The distinction between culture and ideologies are fundamental in philosophy and social sciences. To summarize, it could be said that the ideology is what you generally think and believe in, while culture is what you generally do. In other words, ideologies are a set of coherent ideas that are linked together, while culture is a set of practices related to a group. There are many opposing ideologies related to climate change and global warming: those who agree with the idea of climate change and those who reject the idea of a global warming. These beliefs are organized into ideologies that guide our attitudes, behaviors, and actions.

Although there are exceptions, most individuals try to act according to their beliefs. Whenever they do not, they usually become aware that their actions are not aligned with their convictions. For instance, a bus or truck driver might neglect to turn the engine's motor off while waiting for passengers for a long period, knowing that he is contributing to air pollution. The bus driver employed by the city would not be affected by wasting energy or consuming too much because he does not have to pay for the gasoline that is consumed. An independent, private truck driver may turn off the engine, because he pays for the fuel consumed.

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