The way of living, eating, wearing, singing, dancing and talking are all parts of a culture. In common parlance, the word culture, is understood to mean beautiful, refined or interesting.
In sociology we use the word culture to denote acquired behavior which are shared by and transmitted among the members of the society. In other words, culture is a system of learned behaviour shared by and transmitted among the members of a group.
Definitions of culture
Culture has been defined in various ways by sociologists and anthropologists. Following are the important definitions of culture.
E.B. Tylor defines “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, Jaw, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”.
Edward Sapir says that “Culture is any socially inherited element of the life of man, material and spiritual”.
Malinowski defines "Culture the handwork of man and conventional understanding manifest in art and artifact which persisting through which he achieves his ends".
Redfield remarks that “Culture is an organised body of conventional understanding manifest in art and artifact which persisting through, characterizes a human group”.
Mac Iver is of the view that “Culture is the expression of our nature in our modes of living, and our thinking, intercourses in our literature, in religion, in recreation and enjoyment.
According to E.S. Bogardus “Culture is all the ways of doing and thinking of a group”.
Characteristics of Culture
For a clear understanding of the concept of culture it is necessary for us to know its main characteristics. Culture has several characteristics. Following are the main characteristics of culture.
1. Culture is Learnt
Culture is not inherited biologically, but learnt socially by man. It is not an inborn tendency. There is no culture instinct as such culture is often called learned ways of behaviour.
Unlearned behaviour such as closing the eyes while sleeping, the eye blinking reflex and so on are purely physiological and culture sharing hands or saying namaskar or thanks and shaving and dressing on the other hand are culture.
Similarly wearing clothes, combing the hair, wearing ornaments, cooking the food, drinking from a glass, eating from a plate or leaf, reading a newspaper, driving a car, enacting a role in drama, singing, worship etc. are always of behaviour learnt by man culturally.
2. Cultural is social
Culture does not exist in isolation. Neither it is an individual phenomenon. It is a product of society. It originates and develops through social interaction. It is shared by the members of society. No man can acquire culture without association with other human beings.
Man becomes man only among men. It is the culture which helps man to develop human qualities in a human environment. Deprivation is nothing but deprivation of human qualities.
3. Culture is shared
Culture in the sociological sense, is something shared. It is not something that an individual alone can possess. For example customs, tradition, beliefs, ideas, values, morals, etc. are shared by people of a group or society.
The invention of Arya Bhatta or Albert Einstein, Charaka or Charles Darwin, the literary, works of Kalidas or Keats, Dandi or Dante, the philosophical works of Confucius or Lao Tse, Shankaracharya or…