Google dictionary offers two meanings of the word culture, “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively” or “the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or society”. The same source offers the synonyms of the arts, the humanities, intellectual achievement(s), intellectual activity, literature, music, painting, philosophy, civilization, society, way of life, lifestyle, customs, traditions, heritage, habits, ways, mores and values as a part of description of word culture. A society, group, family or institution has its own culture that differentiates it from others. Cultural Anthropology that is aimed at studying cultural variations in humans. According to encyclopedia of public health culturally determined characteristics include: language spoken at home; religious observations; customs (including marriage customs that often accompany religious and other beliefs); acceptable gender roles and occupations; dietary practices; intellectual; artistic and leisure-time pursuits; and aspects of behavior.
According to an online article that I found on ‘yourarticlelibrary.com’ (that didn’t have the authors name) described that cultures help individuals communicate, interpret and evaluate as members of society. The same author writes that there are many philosophers who feel that culture is such an abstract and material element that it is difficult to define it. According to researchers culture is challenging concept because “its primary focus is on broadest component of social behaviour in entire society”. Psychologist, Sociologist, Anthropologist study only one aspect of society including language, knowledge, laws, religions, food customs, music, art, technology, work, patterns, products and other anti-facts that give the society its distinctive flavour. In this sense culture is society’s personality. The same author gives a list of attitude and behaviours that are influenced by ones culture that according to him/her include personality, language/communication, dress, food, habits, religion and religious faiths i.e. beliefs, special social customs, social relationships (marriage, family, social and religious organisations, government), system of education (role of churches, temples, mosques on education system in fostering mental process of behaviour (formal and religious symbols, colleges, technical institutes, universities etc), work habits and products, time value, values and norms, belief and faith, festivals, art (music, pictures, TV, radio, movies, theaters), technology and innovation, products and services, knowledge, law of government, social traditions and laws laid down by religion.
We can note above that those factors that determine culture are eventually influenced by the culture as the two go hand in hand. Out of many factors, most of authors are in agreement that two most important factors that influence or determine culture are Values and Norms. Values are important and lasting beliefs or ideas shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values directly influence person’s behaviour and attitude and serve as a broad guideline in all situations. Norms are ways of behaving that are considered normal in particular society that is typical and standard and most people agree with.
In order to understand the developmental, psychological and personal aspects of an individual, a country, a even a nation we need to understand its culture and determinants of its culture essentially.