Culture – Definitions and Dimensions
Culture is a widely-used term but a single definition of the word is elusive. As a concept, the meaning of culture may subtly change according to the context in which it is being used. This is partly because it can reflect a range of characteristics.
Specific cultures can be defined by a group of people sharing language, religion, or an ethnic or geographic origin. More broadly, it may embrace common customs, tastes in food, drink, music or the arts, or through participation in a set of rituals and events.
In today’s world of easy travel, mass communication and extensive migration, we can argue that culture operates on several levels. For example, in my social life I may be part of a group that is of a similar age and shares similar interests in music. On weekends I may attend church and engage in social and supportive initiatives of that community.
When I go shopping I may seek out shops that appeal to my culinary preferences, or spend time in particular aisles of the supermarket. At home, I may speak the language of my parents but read local newspapers in English. When I travel I choose destinations that help me understand more about where I came from and how it relates to other parts of the world. At election time, I celebrate the democratic principles that allow me to vote and hear views expressed that are often different to my own. Most significantly, this blend of cultural identities translates into a set of attitudes, values and behaviours that condition my actions as a consumer.